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How TCB Follows the Astros (The Truth Is Out There)

Recently, Beyond the Box Score set forth an engaging, thought provoking philosophy for their community. It caused me to spend to some time reflecting on both my own philosophy and TCB's philosophy. I feel that this reflection is both timely and worthwhile given that we're venturing into the hot stove season.

Beyond the Box Score succinctly phrased their site philosophy as:

This is not a blog about sabermetrics. This is a blog about understanding and analyzing baseball through the sabermetric lens.

While TCB is neither of those things, it comes closest to resembling the latter. Remarkably, this approach to analyzing the Astros has been successful; a result Evan and I did not predict when we were brought on board in 2008. But the posture this blog takes on the Astros, though saber at times, is something more refined (in my opinion), and it is certainly not the work of Evan or myself.

For those of you around when Evan and I swindled our way into your hearts and minds this community, you will recall that we were decidedly saber in all of our beliefs. We had read Baseball Between the Numbers, The Book, and of course, Moneyball. Thus, we knew everything there was to know and could cite to a stat, formula, and article bolstering our contention.

We didn't fare too well with that approach (those of you here at the time are probably unconsciously nodding your heads right now). In a humbling reversal of roles (Evan and I definitely though we were going to start an saber-based Astros-revolution), we have ended up learning through your questioning of our saber-dogma. Through a back and forth conversation that continues to this day, fans at all ends of the saber-based/traditional-vantage spectrum pick at the gray areas, margins of error, assumptions, and half-truths of just about every aspect of the game.

It's quite a remarkable thing; though sometimes daunting to me as a conversation starter. But my understanding of the game of baseball has been decidedly formed through the last two-plus years of writing for and talking with you—not through those aforementioned books.

As I said earlier, though, TCB is not defined by a saber-slant, or at least I don't think it is. Rather, I think that TCB, as a community, has come to a more refined vantage point. Just look at the mix of authors we have here: Clack, Evan, and I utilize advanced metrics and economic analysis quite a bit; David, well David does everything from traditional scouting, pitch/fx divinations, and utilizing advanced metrics; Subber and OremLK mix traditional scouting with some advanced metrics for some new school scouting reports; Timmy is another jack of all trades; Allphilla plays the every man, comedic role. There is a lot of variance in what gets written about, and how the subject matter of the writing is analyzed. It is an incredibly valuable approach to analyze a baseball team with.

If I had to boil down the philosophy of TCB, I would phrase it something like this: This is a blog that finds the grains of truth about Astros baseball. I am sure that sounds grandiose, but I believe it is accurate. Although we are not without an occasional tiff, for the most part, we are willing to hear out and search for the truth in just about every strain of analysis we are presented with.

As a result of this quality, TCB is not prone to great emotional hyperbole, useless speculation (i.e. excessive rosterbation), and capable of identifying the relevant factors controlling the Astros front office. These qualities are the result of the broad base of knowledge developed and shared by the community, and they will serve us will in the this offseason.

As Jon Heyman speculates about how the Astros are considering Cliff Lee, we won't be phased. When Carl Crawford does not don an Astros uniform, we won't be upset or confused. We are non-plussed because everyday this community considers, dissects, and evaluates the Astros franchise. Together, we admit the imperfection and biases of some advanced metrics, understand the value of traditional scouting, and construct a framework of analysis that includes the relevant factors controlling Ed Wade and Bobby Heck's decision making.

Like I said, this post was inspired by BtB's post, but it also comes just after after Evan and I tolled two years here as "managers". I put manager in quotation marks because clearly David allows us to keep our titles out of oversight/laziness. I wanted to point out the quality community we (very much in the royal version) have created here. It is because our site's philosophy that I am looking forward to another offseason of wading through the muck with you.