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Looking behind the statistics

Humorist, writer and lecturer Mark Twain said on many occasions, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”Baseball is replete with statistics. Although our national pastime prides itself on the accuracy of its statistics, some can be misleading or needing further inspection.

Baseball has been driven by numbers since 1869, when the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was founded in the “Queen City” on the shores of the Ohio River.

Traveling throughout the post-Civil War United States, they won 88 consecutive games, before bowing to the Brooklyn Atlantic Club, 8-7, in June 1870.

Early statistics revolved around a team’s won-loss percentage, player’s batting average, plus pitcher’s wins and losses. Soon fielding percentages, attendance at games, as well as the time of the contest were included.

One of the latest in baseball’s numbers game is WAR (wins above replacement). This writer pleads ignorance as to how the obtuse entry into baseball’s lexicon is...

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