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Annual SABR Analytics Conference Begins Thursday

For the third straight year, I'm heading to Phoenix, Arizona, to cover the annual SABR Analytics Conference. The three-day event begins Thursday and is packed with all sorts of cool panels, player appearances, and presentations.

As someone who loves baseball, statistics, and the history of the game, I really look forward it. There's always something new in the world of sabermetrics, like the SABR Defensive Index (SDI), which was developed in 2013 to help determine the Rawlings Platinum Glove winners. And getting together with other die-hard fans to talk about it all is really fun. 

Even if you're just a causal fan, chances are you've heard of advanced sabermetics like  (wins above replacement) and BABIP (batting average on balls in play). But you might not know about SABR, the organization behind the stats.

SABR stands for the Society for American Baseball Research, an organization of 6200 members who are passionate about the game. It shares ideas, studies and researches the history of baseball, and analyzes statistics. 

The group was founded in 1971 in Cooperstown, NY, the home of the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. Bob Davids gathered 15 other baseball researchers at the Hall to form SABR. Within nine years, SABR member Bill James coined the term “sabermetrics” to describe alternative stats.

Today, SABR features 67 local chapters and 28 committees — including the Negro Leagues Committee, Women in Baseball, and Statistical Analysis. But like Major League Baseball, SABR knows it needs to get more kids involved with the game and the organization. SABR encourages kids to use sabermetrics in creative ways (like playing fantasy baseball) and helps high schools start SABR clubs.

“By working with our members and the baseball community, my goal is to make SABR the baseball organization and community for passionate fans of all ages," says Marc Appleman, the Executive Director of SABR.

One way it does that is by holding numerous events around the country. One is called SABR Day, which is held by SABR chapters the weekend before the Super Bowl. There's also an annual convention (SABR 45 will take place in June in Chicago), and, of course, the Analytics Conference.

This year's conference opens with the Diamond Dollar Case Competition for college and graduate school students. The students react to a challenge similar to what the front office of a major league teams faces. They are then judged by major league team executives. There will also be interviews with San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer and Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, as well as a player panel featuring former MLB players such as Curt Schilling, John Kruk, and Doug Glanville. Personally, I'm looking forward to the panels Analytics in the Broadcaster’s Booth and Origins of Baseball Analytics. Interviews with GMs Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jeff Bridich of the Colorado Rockies could be interesting, too.

I'll be reporting from Phoenix throughout the conference. You can follow my coverage on And if you want to learn more about SABR and how you might be able to get involved, visit its website at

Max Mannis is a special correspondent for and a member of SABR. Check out his contributor page to catch up with his past stories on baseball and SABR events. 

Photos courtesy

sabr analytics conference preview