The baseball draft is a significant event for baseball clubs in choosing which new baseball players they will sign into their teams. These prospective new comers, if picked right will be able to help their club by performing well. This is where the baseball draft can get complicated. There are two methods used to help pick prospective players in the draft. The old method is known as scouting and the new method is sabermetrics or also known as analyzing baseball through statistics (Lewis). Sabermetrics has raised a controversy within baseball drafting. Scouting and using sabermetrics are completely different from one another. Both sides have strong beliefs to why their method is more suitable for drafting players. This debate goes beyond baseball drafting and could be analyzed further by comparing it to the abortion debate. The abortion debate also had two strong sides that include pro-choice and pro-life (Luker 158). The debates have more to them as Luker would put it “That’s just the tip of the iceberg” (Luker 158). Luker demonstrates there are competing world views between pro-life and pro-choice activists in the abortion debate. Luker’s analysis of pro-life and pro-choice activists of the abortion debate can be used to examine and prove that there is also a competition of world views between the sabermetricians and baseball scouts within the sabermetric controversy.
Sabermatricians can be compared to the pro-choice world view and baseball scouts reflect the world view of pro-life activists. Luker demonstrates that the world views in abortion are formed by looking at the beliefs of the roles of sexes, the meaning of parent hood, and the view of human nature (Luker 158). Similarly, the world views of the sabermetric controversy reflect the roles of players, the meaning of a good player, and their view of human nature. Each world view is significant in understanding the controversy. The world views of pro-life to baseball scouting and pro-choice to sabermetrics can be further compared by dissecting each part of the world views.
The roles of sexes within the abortion debate can be compared and examined to the role of players within the sabermetric debate. Luker claims that pro-life groups believe that women and men are different therefore having different sexual roles (Luker 159). Pro-life activists see women’s role as nurturing and becoming mothers, where as a man’s role leans to being the money maker and support the family. The motherhood role to a Pro-life activist is a very important aspect that influences anti-abortion beliefs. On the other hand, Luker claims that pro-choice groups believe that women and men are more on the lines of being equal with one another (Luker 176). The Pro-choice perspective of the motherhood role is opposite of the pro-life view. Pro-Choice activists look at motherhood as a low status, and that controlling reproduction is a way to advance their human potential (Luker 176). Sabermetrics and scouting can also be analyzed by looking at the perspectives of the roles.
Scouting and Sabermetrics have different views of how they define the roles of players within the sabermetric controversy. The scout’s views of the role of players are their potential to do good and what they see them do during their youth. Scouts usually target young baseball players in high school and watch them play. Billy Beane was a player that was recruited for the Oakland A’s when he was in high school (Lewis 10). A scout can determine a player he would suggest to draft sometimes after seeing the player play only a little. It is believed that because the player is good in high school, he has potential on being a big leaguer and needs to be recruited (Lewis 38). The sabermetrics view of the role of players is their stabilized performance shown through their statistics. Unlike the scouts, sabermatricians don’t rely on the potentiality of a prospective player but rely on the role of the consistency of a player’s statistics (Lewis). The role of a good player to the sabermetricians is to maintain their consistency to determine if they will make it to the major leagues. Sabermetricians usually look at college baseball players because their statistics are more constant and realistic. Sabermetrics like pro-choice revolve on showing a players highest human potential. Whereas, scouting is similar to pro-life groups because they both seem to revolve on a strong belief of what each group can achieve potentially.
The meaning of parent hood is another aspect in the world views discussed in Luker’s abortion analysis and can be compared to the world views of the sabermetric debate. Luker claims that to pro-life activists parent hood is natural, and that it results in procreative love that is solely for reproductive purposes (Luker 176). This meaning of parent hood for the pro-life group contributes to their reasons on why they are against abortion. If they see parent hood as significant just like mother hood and their love is meant for procreative purposes then they would not be interested in contraceptives, or aborting a baby. The pro-choice activists see the meaning of parent hood differently from the pro-life group. The pro-choice activists see the meaning of parent hood as a responsibility. The pro-choice activists are not against parent hood, but maintain responsibility to decide if they are ready for it (Luker).
Luker’s examination of the meaning of parent hood gives us more insight to the world views of sabermetricians and scouts when you look at their definition of what a player is, and how they find good players. Scouts use the five tool method to explain their meaning of a good player. The five tool method include five an abilities which are: to run, throw, field, hit, and hit with power (Lewis 3). To them a good player possesses these five tools along with personality, looks, and what they could do. In essence, the scouts meaning of a baseball player reflects the natural perspective of the pro-life activists from Luker’s analysis. Scouts saw players who had the five tools similar to being natural and good enough to become major league baseball players. Sabermetricians meaning of a good player is not based on the five tool method or looks. It reflects their current achievements and their statistics. For example, the sabermetricians picked a college kid named Kevind Youkilis to be a draft choice. The scouts would never pick him because he was fat third baseman who could not run, throw, or field basically meaning he didn’t possess any of the five method tools (Lewis 19). However, the sabermetricians picked him because of his consistent statistics. He had the second highest on-base percentage in all of professional baseball (Lewis 19). Comparatively, the sabermetricans meaning of a good baseball player reflects similarity to the meaning of parenthood to the pro-choice abortion activists. The sabermetricians are also showing responsibility by trying to pick the best draft choice by using current performance statistics of a player then judging them on looks and potential.
Another aspect that is discussed by Luker’s analysis of world views in the abortion debate is human nature. The concept of human nature is not only shown in the abortion debate but also with the sabermetric controversy. Luker claims that with pro- life groups that human nature rests on god or the traditional (Luker 181). Pro-life groups’ beliefs to the traditional and natural coincide with their beliefs about abortion. The traditional to them involves life and reproduction and with abortion if they prevent reproduction from occurring naturally they are going against god. Pro-choice groups on the other hand view human nature having the best quality of life. Pro-choice activists want to have the resources and knowledge available about being ready for children (Luker 181). If they do not have this available they will not receive the highest quality of life that they value within their beliefs. Having children and parenting are not the main importance with Pro-choice activists. Instead, they rely on sex to build relationships and contraception and knowledge help them be responsible towards their belief of human nature.
The sabermetric controversy also involves the concept of human nature with sabermetricians and scouts. Scouts take the traditional view point when looking at human nature just like pro-life activists. Scouts use terms that explain how they recruit draft picks. Some of these terms include bad makeup, rock head, good body, out of shape, and other phrases. These phrases are all traditionally in grained in them, along with the five tools that they judge a player by (Lewis 25). Scouts are familiar with the game of baseball, and many have experience because they have played it. They do not understand the logistics of sabermetrics or analyzing baseball statistics. They use the traditional method of drafting players which is going out to games and watching them play. They are similar to pro-life activists because they are very concrete in their traditional views. Sabermetricians on the otherhand in a way also want to get the quality of life like the pro-choice activists. They view human nature as using the best realistic methods to gain economical goals. Sabermetricians help clubs spend their money the best possible way without over spending. They also help pick players for the draft that are not well known if you use the scouting method.
However, not all aspects of the sabermetric controversy apply with the abortion argument. Pro-life activists and pro-choice activists are totally opposed to each others arguments on abortion and. It works a little different in the sabermetric controversy. The scouts is this case are the ones who feel threatened by the sabermetricians because they are basically devaluing their work and how they draft players. The scouts do not want to change there methods and do not agree with the sabermetrics methods. However, with the sabermetricians they do not totally want to get rid of scouts and their methods. Instead some sabermetricians wish to incorporate both methods (Lewis). The sabermetricians want to still have qualities of scouting but want to concentrate on using statistics to determine the performance quality of a baseball player.
In conclusion, the controversy of sabmetrics can formulate opposing world view points that are similar to the worldview points of the abortion debate. Luker’s analysis of abortion helps demonstrates these viewpoints in relation to the sabermetric controversy. The world viewpoints in Luker’s abortion analysis showed aspects relating to sex rules, the meaning of parent hood and view of human nature. The sabermetric controversy formulated its own world viewpoint that involves the role of the baseball player, the meaning of a good baseball player, and its views of human nature. The sabermetric controversy different from the abortion debate to the extent that sabermetricians do not totally want to get rid of the scouting method but some thing they should both be used to help draft players.
Luker, Kristin. Abortion and the Politics of motherhood. University of California Press
Lewis, Michael. Money Ball. New York London: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004.