Even in baseball's earliest days, the goal of the game was the same as it is now. Hitters try to hit the ball as hard as they can, and pitchers try to prevent hitters from hitting the ball hard. It is a simple theorem that spans eras and is familiar to anyone who has swung and felt the immense satisfaction of a ball meeting a bat's sweet spot. In that moment, all is well with the world.
It is understandable that some fans of baseball are turned off by analytics -- by the complicating deluge of numbers, the brand names assigned to things that just were, the quantifying of things like that perfect swing. Yet people of all stripes, old and young, mathematically inclined and averse, longtime admirer of baseball and greenhorn, should pay heed. Because this wonderfully universal principle -- hit the ball hard, don't let it get hit hard -- is playing out in amazing fashion right now. There is a hitter who hits the ball harder than anyone. There is a pitcher who allows fewer hard-hit balls than anyone.
And that hitter and that pitcher are the same person.