Scouting and Scoring: Baseball as a Data-Based Science

7 Nov 2019
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Christopher Phillips
Associate Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University

Player evaluation in baseball has become a paradigmatic case of the clash between traditional, subjective, humanistic techniques of evaluation and supposedly objective, statistical tools. The underlying idea—that the data sciences have transformed our ability to determine value and quality—has spread into many domains, from marketing and medicine to law and order. Central to this claim in baseball is the distinction made between scorers and scouts, between those who analyze numbers and those who evaluate bodies. The history development of these practices belies any such distinction, however: scorers relied upon sophisticated management of bodies and moral judgments to create their statistical tables while scouts relied upon numerical grades and scientific tools to make their evaluations. By reflecting on how scouts and scorers have struggled to create reliable and replicable knowledge, this talk explores broader transformations in the nature of and meaning of data-based science in the late modern world.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  CSTMS

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