There is a war in baseball that rarely comes up on the field of play yet rages in the stands, the press box, in print and online 365 days a year.
On one side of this battle are those that consider baseball a science and believe that numbers tell us more about the game than any other approach. On the other side are those that consider the game an art and hold that baseball is an activity far too complicated and discreet to be contained in a series of calculations.
Neither side speaks much to the other, and when they do those discussions usually degenerate into a series of playground taunts between straw men, Science eschewing the Art crowd as ignorant louts and esthetes blind to logic, and Art denigrating the practitioners of Science as socially stunted denizens of their parent’s basements.
I delicately wandered into this battle a few weeks ago when, in responding to a Facebook discussion Charlie Pierce was involved in on the merits of Mike Cameron versus Dwight Evans I quipped that “Baseball is an art not a science.” Moments later the esteemed Joe Posnanski and a few others gently reprimanded me, one wagging his finger and writing “They don’t keep score at the ballet, Glenn.” Of course I realized the question was not as simple as either comment decreed, so rather than throw dirt bombs back and forth over the back fence I decided to step back, analyze the structure of the disagreement and try to determine if that tells us anything about the veracity of either approach.
[Photo Credit: Fecal Face]