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The general complacency of baseball people -- even those of undoubted intelligence -- toward mathematical examination of what they regard properly and strictly as their own dish of tea is not too astonishing. I would be willing to go as far as pretending to understand why none of four competent and successful executives of second-division ball clubs were most reluctant to employ probabalistic methods of any description ... but they did not even want to hear about them!Indeed, Earnshaw Cook never did find a ballclub that wanted to hear about his findings. He did, however, help inspire a generation of baseball analysts (not to mention novelist Philip Roth, who based a character in The Great American Novel on Cook). It should be said that even if Cook had been hired by a major-league team, he wouldn't have been the first of his kind. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey promoted statistician Allan Roth from the Dodgers' Montreal farm club to Brooklyn. And Roth was more than just a statistician; in addition to compiling statistics, Roth also analyzed them (which makes him a sabermetrician).
-- Earnshaw Cook in his foreword to Percentage Baseball, 1964
It's worth noting that at least a few major-league teams have employees who, while perhaps not full-fledged sabermetricians (whatever that means), do have an affinity for statistical analysis.
Typically, these men have a traditional baseball background: they might have played baseball in college, and they can talk about tools until the cows come home. But they're also open to discussions of objective knowledge, and they probably spend a few minutes every day trolling for useful information at sites like Baseball Prospectus and BaseballPrimer.
Examples include Cincinnati's Brad Kullman, Cleveland's Chris Antonetti, Colorado's Thad Levine, Detroit's Mike Smith and Oakland's David Forst. And while men like Keith Law, Eddie Epstein, and Bill James are facilitating a revolution as "outsiders," the "insiders" are playing a part, too.
-- Rob Neyer
|Where are they now?|
-- Rob Neyer