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How data finds the truth -- in baseball and in business

Thor Olavsrud | Sept. 23, 2015
Speaking at the NetSuite NYSE Disruption Summit at the New York Stock Exchange, baseball luminaries Bill James and Billy Beane talk data, truth and the new frontier for sabermetrics.

"Everything you can quantify, we're going to quantify," Beane says. "A catcher called a good game? How do you quantify that? Pitch framing? Every question that we can boil down to raw objective information is what we're trying to do. But unless your data is free of any human collection, there's going to be some error there."

In the end, James and Beane say the next frontier for sabermetrics will be the study of actual production versus potential.

"We haven't studied that as well as we should have or could have," James says. "Most of the industry is making decisions based on what the players did last year. If you could make a decision based on what the player is going to do forward, you can turn it into a marketable number, which is production."

"We're essentially buying stocks and we want to pay for future performance, not past performance," Beane adds. "Nobody cares what you did the previous five years."


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