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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Alan Schwarz. The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics. New York: T. Dunne Books, 2004. General Collections, Library of Congress (071.00.00)

The Grand Unifying Theory

Before there was sabermetrics—baseball’s advanced form of statistical analysis—there was Allan Roth. In 1954 he led an effort to create Branch Rickey’s grand unifying theory, expressed in a mind-boggling formula and recounted in The Numbers Game (shown here, left page) that reduced everything about a player’s performance to a single number. In so doing, Roth anticipated what today is known as on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG), two figures that joined the batting average (BA) as standard player stats.