Moore’s Law of Baseball

For almost my entire life (and before that all the way back to the dawn of baseball), the stats on the back of a baseball card were unchanged. If you got the box scores for your favorite player, you could calculate their stats yourself with a pencil. That’s not necessarily good. These stats were simple and misleading.

For example, it was clear in the 90’s that on-base percentage was more important than batting average. This got expanded on in the money ball era. Computers were brought in to analyze players, and so analyzing players was now subject to Moore’s Law, which can be simplified to say that we double computer power every 18 months. We’ve had about 20 doublings since then.

What the Moore’s Law of baseball? The number of stats is doubling every 18 months, all enabled by modern compute power.

There’s a stat called WAR or Wins Above Replacement, which tries to tell you how many wins a player adds to their team relative to the average player at their position (who has a WAR of 0). To calculate WAR for a single player you need every outcome from every player. It’s so complex, that we can’t agree on the right way to do it, so we have a dozen variants on it.

Stats like Exit Velocity, Launch Angle, Spin Rates, Pitch Tunneling, and Framing are only possible to know because of high-speed cameras and advanced vision processing enabled by Moore’s law. We’re not limited to describing what has happened already—some broadcasts put pitch-by-pitch outcome predictions on the screen.

Even with all this advancement, it still sometimes feels like we’re still at the dawn of this era. As a fan, these don’t feel like the right stats either. No one will be put in the hall of fame because they hit the ball hard a lot of times.

Just need a few more doublings, I guess.