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Johnny Mostil
10-17-2009, 03:00 PM
Of possible interest, though maybe nothing new: http://www.tnr.com/article/against-moneyball#

SI1020
10-18-2009, 10:28 AM
The last paragraph sums it up for me. Still many worship at the altar of Billy Beane.

Johnny Mostil
10-18-2009, 11:59 AM
I suppose I should have known this, but I was surprised to read the Yanks, Angels, Phils, and Dodgers have a total payroll of $529 million . . .

Craig Grebeck
10-18-2009, 12:04 PM
The last paragraph sums it up for me. Still many worship at the altar of Billy Beane.
I think people believe he's a quality GM. I still think so.

On sabermetrics, Theo Epstein had a wonderful interview a few weeks back with some radio guys regarding some of the ideas he and Beane take heat for.

The radio guys here protest a little … they point out that while Drew’s OPS is usually good, they aren’t sure that it has led to PRODUCTION — namely runs scored and RBIs. And this is when Theo really takes over. I bold out a few of my favorite thoughts in this wonderful little lesson:

“That’s not true. With RBIs, yes. Based on his skill set, he’s always going to have underwhelming RBI totals. I couldn’t care less. When you’re putting together a winning team, that honestly doesn’t matter. When you have a player who takes a ton of walks, who doesn’t put the ball in play at an above average rate, and is a certain type of hitter, he’s not going to drive in a lot of runs. Runs scored, you couldn’t be more wrong. If you look at a rate basis, J.D. scores a ton of runs.

“And the reason he scores a ton of runs is because he does the single most important thing you can do in baseball as an offensive player. And that’s NOT MAKE OUTS. He doesn’t make outs. He’s always among our team leaders in on-base percentage, usually among the league leaders in on-base percentage. And he’s a really good base runner. So when he doesn’t make outs, and he gets himself on base, he scores runs — and he has some good hitters hitting behind him. Look at his runs scored on a rate basis with the Red Sox or throughout his career. It’s outstanding.

“You guys can talk about RBIs if you want, I just … we ignore them in the front office … and I think we’ve built some pretty good offensive clubs. If you want to talk about RBIs at all, talk about it as a percentage of opportunity but it’s just simply not a way or something we use to evaluate offensive players.”

http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/10/03/theo/?6a52a940

Lip Man 1
10-18-2009, 12:26 PM
Johnny:

Money talks and you know what walks....

Lip

TDog
10-18-2009, 02:37 PM
Johnny:

Money talks and you know what walks....

Lip

Smart money talks. If spending money could get you to the World Series, the Cubs would have been there this century and perhaps since 1945 (when the econmics of World War II baseball were much different). The White Sox increased payroll after winning the World Series in 2005, and obviously they haven't been back. Two of the offensive bright spots on the 2009 White Sox were paid less than $2 million between them.

It's true that the last strong period for small market teams was an era of collusion (when even the Yankees weren't going after free agents), but there are more big spending teams who aren't in contention that aren't in contention.

Billy Beane is right about not spending money on relief pitching. Big contracts to non-closing relievers have created financial headaches around baseball. But what the on-base percentage enthusiasts have forgotten is that many people who put up great OBP numbers don't drive in runs.

Nick Swisher, for example, known for getting on base, had a .371 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position for the White Sox last year. His batting average in those situations was only .225. He came up 132 times with runners in scoring position last year. If you subtract the seven home runs he hit from his RBI total and the three runners he drove in from first on home runs with other runners in scoring position he drove in only 36 base runners on 29 hits with runners in scoring position. (Four of the RBIs came on sacrifice flies, which count as a trip to the plate without getting on base in terms of on-base percentage.) The number of runners actually in scoring position he drove in in such situations may be even lower because he hit two doubles with at least two men on base. With runners in scoring position, he had six more strikeouts that he had hits and four more strikeouts than walks.

On the other hand, Alexei Ramirez, whose overall on-base percentage was just .317 while hitting .290, incredibly hit .380 with runners in scoring position (this year his average with runners in scoring position dropped to .296 (after being above .300 through August -- he still ended up hit .322 with two outs and runners in scoring position and has established himself as a strong RBI man).

Getting on base is important, but winning teams have hitters who consistently step up and drive in those runners. Too often in recent years, people have been ignoring the importance of RBIs.

Craig Grebeck
10-18-2009, 05:05 PM
Smart money talks. If spending money could get you to the World Series, the Cubs would have been there this century and perhaps since 1945 (when the econmics of World War II baseball were much different). The White Sox increased payroll after winning the World Series in 2005, and obviously they haven't been back. Two of the offensive bright spots on the 2009 White Sox were paid less than $2 million between them.

It's true that the last strong period for small market teams was an era of collusion (when even the Yankees weren't going after free agents), but there are more big spending teams who aren't in contention that aren't in contention.

Billy Beane is right about not spending money on relief pitching. Big contracts to non-closing relievers have created financial headaches around baseball. But what the on-base percentage enthusiasts have forgotten is that many people who put up great OBP numbers don't drive in runs.

Nick Swisher, for example, known for getting on base, had a .371 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position for the White Sox last year. His batting average in those situations was only .225. He came up 132 times with runners in scoring position last year. If you subtract the seven home runs he hit from his RBI total and the three runners he drove in from first on home runs with other runners in scoring position he drove in only 36 base runners on 29 hits with runners in scoring position. (Four of the RBIs came on sacrifice flies, which count as a trip to the plate without getting on base in terms of on-base percentage.) The number of runners actually in scoring position he drove in in such situations may be even lower because he hit two doubles with at least two men on base. With runners in scoring position, he had six more strikeouts that he had hits and four more strikeouts than walks.

On the other hand, Alexei Ramirez, whose overall on-base percentage was just .317 while hitting .290, incredibly hit .380 with runners in scoring position (this year his average with runners in scoring position dropped to .296 (after being above .300 through August -- he still ended up hit .322 with two outs and runners in scoring position and has established himself as a strong RBI man).

Getting on base is important, but winning teams have hitters who consistently step up and drive in those runners. Too often in recent years, people have been ignoring the importance of RBIs.
And they also have guys who get on base at solid rates.

You should also note that Beane's affinity for OBP was due in large part to the market's undervaluing of plate discipline. Now that the market recognizes it's value, he focuses on other areas.

Edit: and I'll trust Theo Epstein's reasoning and logic when he says that his front office "ignores" RBI.

Bill Naharodny
10-18-2009, 05:48 PM
Although I loathe blind reliance on sabermetric-related numbers -- mostly because their proponents typically answer numerical-based objections to them with non-empirical and self-sealing terms like "sample size" and "outlier" -- I think Bissinger's article missed the mark. What Beane was concerned with was finding competitive advantages that cost little -- and exploiting them. He did that. Today, however, many of the teams that are successful are using some of the same criteria that he did, but putting much more money behind them. Therefore, the competitive advantage for a team like Oakland, in employing many of these statistical analyses, has evaporated. Others, however, may emerge.

I should also add that Bissinger seems much more concerned in this article with Michael Lewis. Competitive envy, perhaps?

TDog
10-18-2009, 05:55 PM
And they also have guys who get on base at solid rates.

You should also note that Beane's affinity for OBP was due in large part to the market's undervaluing of plate discipline. Now that the market recognizes it's value, he focuses on other areas.

Edit: and I'll trust Theo Epstein's reasoning and logic when he says that his front office "ignores" RBI.

The problem is looking at on-base-percentages as a statistic in isolation. Some guys can get on base and drive in runs. There also are a lot of hitters who have high on-base percentages but are not at all good at driving in runs. Some guys are great at taking walks with two outs and first base open but are more likely to strike out or pop out with two outs and the bases loaded.

General managers know this. They scout players, some with greater success than others. When judging a player's performance, they certainly don't look at statistics in isolation. If a player has a high on-base percentage and a low batting average and a low RBI. Alexei Ramirez' .290/.317 with 77 RBIs was exponentially better than Nick Swisher's .219/.332 with 69 RBIs.

Scouting can't be simplified into looking at statistics (something that probably contributed to the White Sox acquiring Nick Swisher, but generally a player with a high on-base percentage and a low batting average probably isn't going to help your team. Not on offense, anyway.

If you were to talk to Theo Epstein, I'm sure he would tell you he wants players who can drive in runs. There are only so many run-scoring wild pitches, passed balls, errors, balks and walks out there.

Craig Grebeck
10-18-2009, 06:06 PM
If you were to talk to Theo Epstein, I'm sure he would tell you he wants players who can drive in runs. There are only so many run-scoring wild pitches, passed balls, errors, balks and walks out there.
I am pretty sure he told the radio guys that the most important thing for a batter to do is not make outs.

Craig Grebeck
10-18-2009, 06:08 PM
Although I loathe blind reliance on sabermetric-related numbers -- mostly because their proponents typically answer numerical-based objections to them with non-empirical and self-sealing terms like "sample size" and "outlier" -- I think Bissinger's article missed the mark. What Beane was concerned with was finding competitive advantages that cost little -- and exploiting them. He did that. Today, however, many of the teams that are successful are using some of the same criteria that he did, but putting much more money behind them. Therefore, the competitive advantage for a team like Oakland, in employing many of these statistical analyses, has evaporated. Others, however, may emerge.

I should also add that Bissinger seems much more concerned in this article with Michael Lewis. Competitive envy, perhaps?
This doesn't make any sense. The terms sample size and outlier are usually based on numbers (or a considerable lack thereof).

Lip Man 1
10-18-2009, 06:47 PM
T-Dog:

You can't get to the World Series if you don't get to the playoffs first and the numbers are staggeringly clear that spending money increases your chances of playing into October which is the first step needed to get to a World Series and possibly win it.

Here's Bud Selig to Peter Gammonds, August 2002:

"The record is clear. From 1995 through 2001, a total of 224 MLB postseason games were played. Only five were won by clubs whose payrolls were in the lower half of the industry. None advanced past the division series, and no team, other than those whose payrolls are in the top fourth of payroll, has won a World Series game during this period. The seven year postseason record is 219-5 in favor of the high payroll teams."

Last year if you recall a poster here at WSI (I'm sorry I don't remember their name) brought those figures up to date (for that time). The lower payroll teams actually won more games in the period from 2002-2007 but the discrepency was still staggering. The numbers from 1995 through 2007 were, if memory serves, along the lines of 315-45 in favor of the high payroll teams.

Just this decade (2000-2009) alone big spending clubs like the Yankees (9 postseason trips), Red Sox (6), Cardinals (7), Angels (6) and Braves (6-they spent big money through the middle of the decade) have almost "guaranteed" themselves a playoff ticket.

The Dodgers and Phillies have had nine and eight winning seasons this decade and have also made the playoffs four and three times. They spend big money.

Even the mentioned Cubs have had their best decade in decades...six winning seasons, three trips to the playoffs.

About the only example of teams that have spent heavily and not gotten meaningful results are the Mets and Orioles and the Orioles haven't spent big money in a long time.

The only teams that haven't really spent money yet had sizable success were the A's (who stopped having it around the middle of the decade) and Minnesota.

Spending money "smartly" really isn't the issue in my opinion because if you're willing to spend it in the first place you usually are willing to spend more to cover up your mistakes. The bottom line is though if you don't spend it, you are almost absolutely on the golf course the first week in October.

Lip

Bill Naharodny
10-18-2009, 07:23 PM
This doesn't make any sense. The terms sample size and outlier are usually based on numbers (or a considerable lack thereof).

Theoretically, yes. In practice, no.

Who determines what's an adequate sample size? Who determines what's an outlier season?

At some point, a subjective decision has to be made about objective data. It may happen when someone on a message board defensively throws out the term "outlier," which is the most egregious of the cases; but it also may happen earlier when choices about what goes into an algorithm are actually made. In any event, either at the front end or the back, a human has to make a judgment about the relevance and meaning of data. It's never strictly about numbers.

Grobber33
10-18-2009, 07:25 PM
And what had the GREAT(not)Billy Beane won in Oakland? As Edwin Starr would sing....."ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.....say it again ya all".

DumpJerry
10-18-2009, 07:42 PM
Who determines what's an adequate sample size? Who determines what's an outlier season?
There are formulas in regression analysis which answer these questions. It's too complex to give a short answer, but the outlier issue becomes apparent when you look at the bell curve. Sample size depends on what margin of error you're willing to have and (in polling) how much money you have to spend.

Bill Naharodny
10-18-2009, 07:49 PM
There are formulas in regression analysis which answer these questions. It's too complex to give a short answer, but the outlier issue becomes apparent when you look at the bell curve. Sample size depends on what margin of error you're willing to have and (in polling) how much money you have to spend.

I agree with you, but that makes the point, doesn't it? Margins of error (polling) and bell curves (exam results). Those really make the MOST sense when you grant that your data is a snapshot in time, not a moving target. Careers don't necessarily work that way. When is the data speaking to you sufficiently to make a judgment about whether a player's season is "outside the norm"? I agree that such a conclusion can be reached, but where? My problem with many who are adamant about sabermetrics over all else is that they often believe they have a lock on making that judgment -- and that makes the numerical analysis unassailable in all instances.

Oblong
10-18-2009, 07:52 PM
I take the article as a slap to Lewis than to Beane.

And do people really worship Beane? I think his critics overstate the affection people have for the guy.

DumpJerry
10-18-2009, 09:04 PM
I agree with you, but that makes the point, doesn't it? Margins of error (polling) and bell curves (exam results). Those really make the MOST sense when you grant that your data is a snapshot in time, not a moving target. Careers don't necessarily work that way. When is the data speaking to you sufficiently to make a judgment about whether a player's season is "outside the norm"? I agree that such a conclusion can be reached, but where? My problem with many who are adamant about sabermetrics over all else is that they often believe they have a lock on making that judgment -- and that makes the numerical analysis unassailable in all instances.

Eric Wedge managed with a laptop that had all kinds of stats about all the player and how they match up with opposing hitters, pitchers, etc. See where it got him? Baseball cannot be managed purely from a statistical viewpoint. Sure, you need some stats, but you also need a gut instinct.

I take the article as a slap to Lewis than to Beane.

And do people really worship Beane? I think his critics overstate the affection people have for the guy.
I took it as a slap at Lewis.

Craig Grebeck
10-19-2009, 05:45 AM
And what had the GREAT(not)Billy Beane won in Oakland? As Edwin Starr would sing....."ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.....say it again ya all".
Do you think he is an adequate general manager?

The problem is looking at on-base-percentages as a statistic in isolation. Some guys can get on base and drive in runs. There also are a lot of hitters who have high on-base percentages but are not at all good at driving in runs. Some guys are great at taking walks with two outs and first base open but are more likely to strike out or pop out with two outs and the bases loaded.

General managers know this. They scout players, some with greater success than others. When judging a player's performance, they certainly don't look at statistics in isolation. If a player has a high on-base percentage and a low batting average and a low RBI. Alexei Ramirez' .290/.317 with 77 RBIs was exponentially better than Nick Swisher's .219/.332 with 69 RBIs.

Scouting can't be simplified into looking at statistics (something that probably contributed to the White Sox acquiring Nick Swisher, but generally a player with a high on-base percentage and a low batting average probably isn't going to help your team. Not on offense, anyway.

If you were to talk to Theo Epstein, I'm sure he would tell you he wants players who can drive in runs. There are only so many run-scoring wild pitches, passed balls, errors, balks and walks out there.
People don't look at it in isolation. I've never argued that OBP is the only thing people should look at. I have argued (and will continue to argue) that no attention should be paid to RBI (in addition to most other counting statistics) when evaluating a baseball player's performance -- past, present, future.

Again, I'll quote what Theo, who is arguably the best general manager in baseball and without question in the conversation, had to say about this:

You guys can talk about RBIs if you want, I just … we ignore them in the front office … and I think we’ve built some pretty good offensive clubs. If you want to talk about RBIs at all, talk about it as a percentage of opportunity but it’s just simply not a way or something we use to evaluate offensive players.

Oblong
10-19-2009, 08:17 AM
Plus I'm sure that within a matter of 10 minutes, a GM can have a spreadsheet listing a hitter's performance for a time period for every single at bat with runners in scoring position and/or on base. And they'd know who was on base, how many outs there were, what kind of ball they hit, did they take a walk? What kid of pitches were thrown? Who was the pitcher? How long was he in the game? Was 1B open? Who was hitting behind him?

You have to know the scenario of the game itself to draw a conclusion. If the hitter in question is a left hander and the starter was a right hander, did they bring in their lefty specialist to face him? Maybe the guys got on base because it was the 7th inning and the starter was tired? Then the lefty faces the fresh lefty. That's info that the GM's can get pretty quickly.

Zisk77
10-19-2009, 10:12 AM
Bissinger got one thing right: the biggest reason the Athletics won: Zito, Mulder, Hudson. those guys were unhittable then.

Randar68
10-19-2009, 12:36 PM
Bissinger got one thing right: the biggest reason the Athletics won: Zito, Mulder, Hudson. those guys were unhittable then.

And they maximized those guys by not making stupid outs on the bases, and at that time they had a lot of high-OBP, mediocre speed guys in the lineup.

But yes, 3 stud low-to-mid 20's starting pitchers can make just about any GM look like a genius. So can having top 10 draft picks for nearly a decade straight.

voodoochile
10-19-2009, 12:39 PM
And they maximized those guys by not making stupid outs on the bases, and at that time they had a lot of high-OBP, mediocre speed guys in the lineup.

But yes, 3 stud low-to-mid 20's starting pitchers can make just about any GM look like a genius. So can having top 10 draft picks for nearly a decade straight.

Provided you're willing to ignore that decade that is...

thedudeabides
10-19-2009, 12:47 PM
And they maximized those guys by not making stupid outs on the bases, and at that time they had a lot of high-OBP, mediocre speed guys in the lineup.

But yes, 3 stud low-to-mid 20's starting pitchers can make just about any GM look like a genius. So can having top 10 draft picks for nearly a decade straight.

Those offenses had a little bit of help from the needle, as well.

voodoochile
10-19-2009, 12:50 PM
Those offenses had a little bit of help from the needle, as well.

There you go... take players who have a good eye, inject them with stuff to make them actually decent hitters and presto... Moneyball...

Randar68
10-19-2009, 12:54 PM
There you go... take players who have a good eye, inject them with stuff to make them actually decent hitters and presto... Moneyball...

Whole new meaning to "home grown". :-P

SI1020
10-19-2009, 01:54 PM
I agree with you, but that makes the point, doesn't it? Margins of error (polling) and bell curves (exam results). Those really make the MOST sense when you grant that your data is a snapshot in time, not a moving target. Careers don't necessarily work that way. When is the data speaking to you sufficiently to make a judgment about whether a player's season is "outside the norm"? I agree that such a conclusion can be reached, but where? My problem with many who are adamant about sabermetrics over all else is that they often believe they have a lock on making that judgment -- and that makes the numerical analysis unassailable in all instances. Excellent post.

downstairs
10-19-2009, 02:40 PM
I think a lot of what Beane says is true, and a good way to run a club. The problem is the whole notion of Beane's theories being a way a small-budget team can beat the big-budget teams by outthinking them.

This essentially relies on the big market teams being stupid.

Assume for a second Beane's theories work. Great. Now the Yankees and Red Sox can apply them with a $100 million budget.

NY and Boston still win.

There's not theory out there that works BETTER for a smaller-budget team. A theory only works better if you're the only one using it.

Like anything though, smart strategies in sports get copied the next year. Then they're no longer smart- they're merely the status quo.

Craig Grebeck
10-19-2009, 02:47 PM
I think a lot of what Beane says is true, and a good way to run a club. The problem is the whole notion of Beane's theories being a way a small-budget team can beat the big-budget teams by outthinking them.

This essentially relies on the big market teams being stupid.

Assume for a second Beane's theories work. Great. Now the Yankees and Red Sox can apply them with a $100 million budget.

NY and Boston still win.

There's not theory out there that works BETTER for a smaller-budget team. A theory only works better if you're the only one using it.

Like anything though, smart strategies in sports get copied the next year. Then they're no longer smart- they're merely the status quo.
That's the idea of Moneyball. It wasn't just high OBP, plodding players -- though that is something advocated by sabermetricians -- it was about cornering the market and finding what's undervalued. Beane has struggled in later years since OBP became the stat du jour, but he is trying to do the same now with good defensive players and young relievers. I really do think they're going to return to form pretty soon, as they've got one of the best starting pitchers in the game in Brett Anderson and a pretty solid nucleus of offensive prospects like Brett Wallace and Chris Carter. And, as I mentioned earlier, one of the very best bullpens in baseball.

TDog
10-19-2009, 03:08 PM
. ...

Again, I'll quote what Theo, who is arguably the best general manager in baseball and without question in the conversation, had to say about this:

Unfortunately, the 2009 White Sox ignored RBIs as well.

Craig Grebeck
10-19-2009, 03:16 PM
Unfortunately, the 2009 White Sox ignored RBIs as well.
I don't know what you are getting at here. I'm saying that front offices ignore RBI and don't regard it as a meaningful statistic.

TDog
10-19-2009, 04:16 PM
I don't know what you are getting at here. I'm saying that front offices ignore RBI and don't regard it as a meaningful statistic.

Not all front offices ignore RBIs, and I doubt the Red Sox ignore RBIs per se. They probably ignore the raw number because it may well relate to the success of other hitters in the lineup, just as runs scored relates to the success of hitters later in the lineup.

Take the example of the 2008 seasons of Nick Swisher and Alexei Ramirez, which I compared previously. Ramirez had just 10 RBIs more than Swisher, but it wasn't just that Ramirez drove in 10 more runs. If you take traditional baseball statistics and consider the opportunities the two had to drive in runs, you find that Swisher came up with 199 runners in scoring position and drove in 67 for an RBI rating of .337. That includes runners driven in from first and home runs in which he drove in himself, of course. He drove in 48 of the 199 runners that were in scoring position when he came up to bat, for a percentage of .241.

Ramirez had 151 runners in scoring position when he came up to bat in 2008, and had 77 RBIs. His RBI rating was .510. He hit four grand slams, of course, and hit other home runs and drove runners in from first base, but he still drove in 57 of the 151 runner who were in scoring position when he came up to bat for a percentage of .377.

Even these stats can be refined further, eliminating the intentional-walk appearances from the figures and breaking down success by the number outs in the inning. All stats can be misleading given the opportunity, not the least of all on-base percentage. Ramirez hit .471 with the bases loaded in 2008, but his on-base percentage was only .400 because he hit three sacrifice flies and did not walk (being the wild free-swinger that he was). And, perhaps most impressively, he only struck out once in 20 plate appearances.

RBI figures for the 2008 White Sox are going to be on the low side because the 2008 team was slower than the 2009 team, so there were many hits to the outfield that would have counted against a player's RBI percentage.

General managers care about such things, even if they say they aren't impressed that a hitter has had three straight 100-RBI seasons.

asindc
10-19-2009, 04:29 PM
Not all front offices ignore RBIs, and I doubt the Red Sox ignore RBIs per se. They probably ignore the raw number because it may well relate to the success of other hitters in the lineup, just as runs scored relates to the success of hitters later in the lineup.

Take the example of the 2008 seasons of Nick Swisher and Alexei Ramirez, which I compared previously. Ramirez had just 10 RBIs more than Swisher, but it wasn't just that Ramirez drove in 10 more runs. If you take traditional baseball statistics and consider the opportunities the two had to drive in runs, you find that Swisher came up with 199 runners in scoring position and drove in 67 for an RBI rating of .337. That includes runners driven in from first and home runs in which he drove in himself, of course. He drove in 48 of the 199 runners that were in scoring position when he came up to bat, for a percentage of .241.

Ramirez had 151 runners in scoring position when he came up to bat in 2008, and had 77 RBIs. His RBI rating was .510. He hit four grand slams, of course, and hit other home runs and drove runners in from first base, but he still drove in 57 of the 151 runner who were in scoring position when he came up to bat for a percentage of .377.

Even these stats can be refined further, eliminating the intentional-walk appearances from the figures and breaking down success by the number outs in the inning. All stats can be misleading given the opportunity, not the least of all on-base percentage. Ramirez hit .471 with the bases loaded in 2008, but his on-base percentage was only .400 because he hit three sacrifice flies and did not walk (being the wild free-swinger that he was). And, perhaps most impressively, he only struck out once in 20 plate appearances.

RBI figures for the 2008 White Sox are going to be on the low side because the 2008 team was slower than the 2009 team, so there were many hits to the outfield that would have counted against a player's RBI percentage.

General managers care about such things, even if they say they aren't impressed that a hitter has had three straight 100-RBI seasons.

I think the comparison you make here is a good example of why I put a premium on scouting and find that statistics are useful tools for scouting. Having watched those two players in 2008, I knew Alexei was the much better player that year without even knowing the numbers.

Actually, I think % of runners batted in is a very good stat because it objectively reflects one of my favorite traits in any player in any sport--did you do it when it counted the most? It is one of the reasons why I like Derek Jeter as a player, despite the statistical case that can be made against him. He is a winner, stats notwithstanding.

Craig Grebeck
10-19-2009, 04:46 PM
Not all front offices ignore RBIs, and I doubt the Red Sox ignore RBIs per se.
Well, Theo stated that they ignored RBI when evaluating a player's offensive performance. And he is their general manager. He evaluates based on many factors, none of which seem to include counting statistics like RBI. Again, just going off of his words.

General managers care about such things, even if they say they aren't impressed that a hitter has had three straight 100-RBI seasons.
I honestly don't think many care about RBI because they (rightfully) believe it isn't a reflection of anything but how many opportunities said player has. There have been countless studies on the predictive accuracy of statistics, and it has been shown time and again that rate statistics are much, much better predictors of success than counting statistics. They do not fluctuate nearly as much and I (believe) they are a better reflection of a player's talent and offensive output.

TDog
10-19-2009, 05:30 PM
I think the comparison you make here is a good example of why I put a premium on scouting and find that statistics are useful tools for scouting. Having watched those two players in 2008, I knew Alexei was the much better player that year without even knowing the numbers.

Actually, I think % of runners batted in is a very good stat because it objectively reflects one of my favorite traits in any player in any sport--did you do it when it counted the most? It is one of the reasons why I like Derek Jeter as a player, despite the statistical case that can be made against him. He is a winner, stats notwithstanding.

Of course, even percentages of runners driven in (and, really, I don't see why that statistic isn't published) can be deceptive because baseball is full of lopsided games with late innings where meaningless runs are scored.

I am a believer in scouting by watching players play rather than scouting by statistics. And, of course, some statistics are more predictive than others.

The mantra this season among Sox fans was a plea for hitting with runners in scoring position, a plea for players to step up and drive in runs. This season on the Sox, only Konerko and Ramirez showed any consistency in that area.

When you are looking to put together a team, you don't necessarily look for someone who had a lot of RBIs in a different lineup. But you should consider players who have demonstrated difficulty driving in runs, depending on their intended role. When the season is over, your most valuable player likely will be the one with the most RBIs.

The tendency these days is to undervalue RBIs, and great players who had a knack of stepping up and driving in runs, i.e. Harold Baines, no longer get the respect they deserve.

Billy Ashley
10-19-2009, 05:31 PM
Beane is a good GM who has very little in the way of resources. Subsequently, when he's made mistakes (as all GMs do) or when he's been dealt some bad luck (which invariably hits all teams at some point or another) it's difficult to for his team to adjust.

It's impossible to look at what's happened to the Athletics without recognizing that they got pretty damn unlucky with Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby. Losing two excellent defensive above average to excellent hitters at two defensively demanding positions after sinking a ton of cash into them has caused that team some pretty ugly headaches.

Additionally, he's been getting worse returns on some of the salary dumps in recent years. More than likely, he wasn't as good as those 94 win teams back in the mid 2000's but he's sure as hell not nearly as bad as the teams we've seen today.

sullythered
10-19-2009, 08:24 PM
Beane is OK. There are other teams that do more with limited resources than he has, though. I'm thinking Twins and Marlins.

khan
10-21-2009, 03:06 PM
And what had the GREAT(not)Billy Beane won in Oakland? As Edwin Starr would sing....."ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.....say it again ya all".
This is below you, Les.

We don't know that if we gave Beane the same resources that Epstein has that he wouldn't be more successful.

Or taken another way, if Beane was given what an imbecile like Hendry has, I don't doubt that Beane would be more successful.