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Lefty34
04-10-2008, 11:07 PM
http://sports.aol.com/voices/armstrong/_a/baseball-stats-mania-rates-a-zero/20080404150809990002

I just read this article and literally threw up in my mouth a little. Ok, I understand that the guys over at Baseball Prospectus are pompous and overly secretive, but that does not mean that the stats they come up with (especially the ones listed in this article, save for GWRBI) are better ways of explaining and understanding the game.

There is also a great piece at http://www.firejoemorgan.com (http://www.firejoemorgan.com/) that explains the idiocy of this article more. However I want to get the thoughts of everyone on the forum: ya or nay on this article? I personally loved Moneyball and the way of thinking about baseball that it brought to life, but why are people constantly trying to destroy it and label people who subscribe to that way of thinking idiots and losers?

I have seen many of arguments on this forum carefully planned out with the use of some of these very "hybrid" statistics, and to me those arguments are logically the best. Thoughts? (sorry if posted in wrong section, I've already made like 3 noob-tacular mistakes today on this forum, so one more won't hurt)

Lip Man 1
04-10-2008, 11:24 PM
Lefty:

To me the main reason is because many of the stat-geeks, or to use Daver's favorite phrase, propeller- heads, ARE arrogant, know-it-all's who simply refuse to admit when they are wrong, pure and simple and I positively despise that arrogant, condensending attitude.

They aren't God, they don't know it all... and when things deviate from their carefully planned formulas, they always have a ready excuse.

Just ONE TIME say 'we blew it, we were wrong.'

Instead don't try to shovel more dung by saying things like 'the Pythagorean equation had it's rhythm's thrown off by the full moon and that's why the Twins couldn't possibly have won three straight divisions, the White Sox couldn't possibly have won it all in 05 and the Astros couldn't possibly have made the post season despite being outscored for the season...'

I e-mailed Dave Van Dyke of the Tribune when he had that story on how BP predicted the Sox would only win 77 games this season. Dave was making such a big deal out of the fact that they got it exactly right in 2007. I asked Dave why BP wasn't crowing after the Sox blew their theories out of the water in 05, or the Twins or the Astros? (I never got an answer by the way from him...)

I can find you a hell of a lot more "predictions" they screwed up completely, especially how many wins a team will get in a given season, then ones they hit dead on.

But for some reason we never hear about those screw-up's do we?

:rolleyes:

And the other reason is because to me, these stats, inventing goofy things that you need a PHD to be able to figure out and the imbecilic nature of many of them "Oh my God, Orlando Cabrera is hitting .340 against left handed pitchers who were traded twice in their career, use a blue glove and have blue eyes," has sucked the life out of a beautiful game. Many of these folks, honestly think, I swear, that what they do is important.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Lip

Lefty34
04-10-2008, 11:42 PM
Hey I hate PECOTA as much as anyone on this forum, believe you me. And I also loathe the arrogance that comes with "knowledge" about any subject; be it baseball or engineering (going to U of I I can sympathize with dealing with overly arrogant people who are really just ignorant of the world around them).

I couldn't agree with you more that the stats that some of the stats BP comes up with are hair-brained and really are worthless (again: GWRBI and PECOTA) but what I'm talking about is the way the look at the game. How they can use the numbers (when they aren't trying to dazzle you with their statistics degrees, which is when they are almost always wrong) to give you a good idea of how the game is played and how certain decisions may affect the ball club.

Arrogance aside (again, I have no disagreement with you on that), can people really look this way of thinking in the face and say: screw off? A scout can't look at a player and tell you how he will preform in certain situations (and neither can the numbers), but what the numbers do is give you a good idea of how you can expect him to act (Billy Beane was the apple of ever scout's eye, and we see how that turned out; and there are dozens more to go along with his story). And on top of that the numbers can show you when a player is overrated or overpaid (i.e. Derek Jeter should never be considered one of the best defensive SS's in the league).

I just think that the challenge to the previously accepted school of thought in baseball is worth more than a good majority of BP's crazy statistics combined.

Lip Man 1
04-11-2008, 12:00 AM
Lefty:

Numbers are a tool to be used in conjunction with a number of other things INCLUDING and especially, the point of view of scouts who have spent years following the game, honing their craft and using their judgments.

They say a picture (or a view) is worth a thousand words (or a thousand numbers). Unfortunately and this is what happened to Bart Johnson, he was fired from the Rays after ten years because the new owner decided the 'stat-heads' knew baseball better (and probably worked cheaper) then scouts. And there have been a few MLB organizations turning to this approach at the expense of the human element.

To me that is 100% wrong...totally, completely, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Stats can't measure heart, guts, drive, ability...the nuances that separate individuals who can play the game at the highest level from the 'can't miss kids,' who have great 'numbers' but couldn't find the toilet in a MLB game.

This is what happens when you let PHD's try to tell baseball people how to run their game.

Lip

Lefty34
04-11-2008, 12:13 AM
Lefty:

Numbers are a tool to be used in conjunction with a number of other things INCLUDING and especially, the point of view of scouts who have spent years following the game, honing their craft and using their judgments.

That's exactly my point: exactly! I think that there has been an unnecessary division between these two camps, the demolition of which could possibly give way to a team that is utterly awesome. Take calculus for example, when trying to integrate under a function using the Rectangle or Trapezoidal rule, one gets close to the actual area under the curve, but will always be off from the actual value. One only receives the true area under the curve when the rectangles are shrunken to an infinitely small width, allowing them to contour perfectly with the curve; that is true integration.

The way I see it, Scouts are great measures of the skill and ability you mentioned (I still disagree that "hearts" and "guts" have that much effect on the baseball field, but hey), bringing them close to the true value and worth of a player; though, like the Rectangle rule in calculus, they fall short of the actual skill. ability and overall worth of a player. Now, couple those scouts with stat-heads who are not arrogant (it may sound impossible, but they have to be there, just like the scout who adamantly believes in BABIP and OBP in the lead-off spot), the people who can look into the numbers and make those rectangles of ours infinitely small, and I believe one can reasonably evaluate players on a superior level. Superior to anything pure numbers or pure scouts' evaluations can give you.

Lefty34
04-11-2008, 12:41 AM
Lefty:

They say a picture (or a view) is worth a thousand words (or a thousand numbers). Unfortunately and this is what happened to Bart Johnson, he was fired from the Rays after ten years because the new owner decided the 'stat-heads' knew baseball better (and probably worked cheaper) then scouts. And there have been a few MLB organizations turning to this approach at the expense of the human element.

To me that is 100% wrong...totally, completely, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

....(edited for length)

This is what happens when you let PHD's try to tell baseball people how to run their game.

Lip

I'm sorry, but on this point I believe your morals and heart, while commending in their own rights, are sorely misplaced. First of all, I am sorry that Bart Johnson was fired (most likely unexpectedly) from a job that he most certainly held near to his heart. However, we live in a capitalist economy, where older expensive parts (humans are expensive) are replaced by more efficient and cheaper ones (computers: relatively inexpensive) in order to promote the biggest profit. Does this involve a certain measure of "trimming the fat"? Yes. Does it effect people in a horrible way? Yes. Do I wish I could help those people as much as you must? Of course. However I still realize that this is the world we live in, and baseball is a business just like any other.

Baseball had a revenue of over $6 billion dollars last year, and the average opening day salary of the people playing this game was just over $3 million. Like it or not, this is a capitalist business, and in the context of the economy of the government MLB resides in, the aforementioned kinds of moves are not uncommon, nor are they wrong. So, as a business owner, I would like to a) maximize my profits and b) knowing that a winning team can maximize my income, I would be looking for the ability to win while at the same time cutting costs.

The great thing about baseball statistics is that they are the same for everyone, in that every player has the chance to bat 1.000 and slug 4.000. Every pitcher has the chance to strike out 27 people a game and compete for the Cy Young. The point is, everyone is supposed to start with a clean slate from the statistical point of view. With scouts, however, there is a clear chance for views to become slanted (based on player history, lineage and the like) based on the views of each individual scout. Do not forget, there used to be a time when African American players were automatically dismissed by scouts just because they were...guess what? African American (and one would be an absolute fool to think otherwise on that notion).

While it is sad that humans are sometimes sacrificed at the altar of the almighty dollar, it is necessary for our way of life and, while tragic is necessary to pay for the big name talent you see on the ballfield.

FedEx227
04-11-2008, 12:56 AM
Lip has it it on the head and you guys are both pretty much saying the same thing.

I consider myself a "stat-geek" sorta. I mean I love looking at baseball numbers, any of them, but I don't like conceived numbers like BP frequently does VORP, PECOTA all this crap does nothing for me. As a huge Bill James fan even Win Shares sometimes tick me off.

I'm a huge fan of context stats and splits, tell me what Josh Fields did against lefties in Close and Late ball-games, tell me how many sinkers Fausto Carmona throws and what counts... stuff like that is interesting to me, because as lip said if gives balance because it's obviously numbers and stats, but it's still a scouting type maneuver.

Which as I mentioned earlier why I'm such a huge fan of Bill James and the ACTA Sports guys. They have books upon books upon books filled with baseball numbers but they:

1) are not cocky and arrogant James does projections and lists most of the ones he was way off on every year in his Handbook.

2) they aren't just made up formulas that take the actual baseball numbers horribly out of context. Baseball is a game built on numbers, .400/755, etc. stuff like this is the lore and history of baseball. So when someone sees that a guy is getting on-base at a .450 clip, that means something. If I tell you Travis Hafner had a 67 VORP in the 2nd half of 2006, what the ****?! Without looking or knowing previously you'll never know if a 67 is good, what is the deviation, etc.

That's basically my stance, not all "stat-geeks" are BP, I'd love to think of myself as that, and that's the disconnect a lot of people seem to have. Theres always on this side STAT-GEEKS and PROPELLER HEADS vs. OLD SCHOOL SCOUTING MAN, when there really shouldn't be that disconnect.

Lefty34
04-11-2008, 02:09 AM
Lip:

By no means did i mean any disrespect. I agree with FedEx on all counts, and I do believe we are talking about the same exact thing: no baseball team is complete with pure scouting, and still no team is perfect with numbers-based moves, because neither can be absolutely complete without the other and both have their own tendencies to be misleading in their own respects. Hell, I would be ever grateful to a scout who said I have the ability to get paid to throw a baseball, and I would be skeptical of a stats-geek who said I sucked.

My only point is: wouldn't a form of cohesion between the two camps form the best possible evaluating scheme? I believe so.

TDog
04-11-2008, 02:29 AM
Lip:

We don't agree on everything, but we're White Sox fans who believe baseball is a beautiful game. Your point was very well put.

Lefty34
04-11-2008, 02:31 AM
Lip:

We don't agree on everything, but we're White Sox fans who believe baseball is a beautiful game. Your point was very well put.

lol I agree with you too, TDog, but what about mine? I need constructive comments from peers!!!!

WhiteSox5187
04-11-2008, 03:19 AM
Lip has it it on the head and you guys are both pretty much saying the same thing.

I consider myself a "stat-geek" sorta. I mean I love looking at baseball numbers, any of them, but I don't like conceived numbers like BP frequently does VORP, PECOTA all this crap does nothing for me. As a huge Bill James fan even Win Shares sometimes tick me off.

I'm a huge fan of context stats and splits, tell me what Josh Fields did against lefties in Close and Late ball-games, tell me how many sinkers Fausto Carmona throws and what counts... stuff like that is interesting to me, because as lip said if gives balance because it's obviously numbers and stats, but it's still a scouting type maneuver.

Which as I mentioned earlier why I'm such a huge fan of Bill James and the ACTA Sports guys. They have books upon books upon books filled with baseball numbers but they:

1) are not cocky and arrogant James does projections and lists most of the ones he was way off on every year in his Handbook.

2) they aren't just made up formulas that take the actual baseball numbers horribly out of context. Baseball is a game built on numbers, .400/755, etc. stuff like this is the lore and history of baseball. So when someone sees that a guy is getting on-base at a .450 clip, that means something. If I tell you Travis Hafner had a 67 VORP in the 2nd half of 2006, what the ****?! Without looking or knowing previously you'll never know if a 67 is good, what is the deviation, etc.

That's basically my stance, not all "stat-geeks" are BP, I'd love to think of myself as that, and that's the disconnect a lot of people seem to have. Theres always on this side STAT-GEEKS and PROPELLER HEADS vs. OLD SCHOOL SCOUTING MAN, when there really shouldn't be that disconnect.
I think there is a huge difference between stats and BP analysis. I mean if someone were to say "When down in the count, Paulie hits .220, but with runners on first and third and less than two outs he hits .320" that's not that weid BP stuff, that's just good scouting. Stats serve a purpose, obviously. But they are not the end all be all. You can't explain baseball (or any game really) just through numbers. There are a ton of a little things that don't show up in the box score that count towards the game and that is something that eludes BP.

FedEx227
04-11-2008, 12:37 PM
I think there is a huge difference between stats and BP analysis. I mean if someone were to say "When down in the count, Paulie hits .220, but with runners on first and third and less than two outs he hits .320" that's not that weid BP stuff, that's just good scouting. Stats serve a purpose, obviously. But they are not the end all be all. You can't explain baseball (or any game really) just through numbers. There are a ton of a little things that don't show up in the box score that count towards the game and that is something that eludes BP.

No doubt, but the media tends to write "I hate stats" articles linking all stats to BP. Like OBP is a bad thing because BP may like it, when in fact OBP was around and utilized before most of the BP guys were alive.

The problem is a lot of times even here if some guys throw up numbers they are immediately beat down as a "Stat-head" when in fact they are just using stats that are a collection of what you're seeing during the game, as you mentioned the "Paulie gets on base at a .400 clip when runners are on first and third."

That's all I was really doing with my posts, just to hopefully show there is a disconnect and that you can love stats and still hate the crap BP spews.

Lip Man 1
04-11-2008, 12:41 PM
Lefty:

No worries, it's all good. Bart is now working for the Nationals by the way.

Lip

Lefty34
04-11-2008, 01:14 PM
you can love stats and still hate the crap BP spews.

I agree with everything FedEx is saying, though some of the stuff BP puts out there is not all that crappy (at least the articles and whatnot that don't involve phantom formulas that are really just aimed at making Manny Ramirez look like the best player alive). In fact, in the BP book Baseball by the Numbers, they had a whole chapter devoted to dispelling the practice of platooning catchers with certain pitchers. Although the arguments made may be seen as wrong (by people who love da Passion and da Fire), the numbers did make sense and their premise was well thought out.

On the other hand, of course, there are many of situations like this:

Fan: "Hey BP that's a pretty cool stat you guys just came up with, and I really think it helps describe the game better...umm, can you show me how to do it?"

BP: "Go **** yourself"

hi im skot
04-11-2008, 01:34 PM
A response. (http://www.firejoemorgan.com/2008/04/heady-days.html)

Lefty34
04-11-2008, 02:27 PM
Yeah that was the FireJoeMorgan article I was talking about in my first post, isn't it great?

I think that's what FedEx and I mean when we are talking about people attacking "stat-heads", it's utterly ridiculous, and what's even more appalling is that the original article is so poorly written and thought out.

hi im skot
04-11-2008, 03:23 PM
Yeah that was the FireJoeMorgan article I was talking about in my first post, isn't it great?

I think that's what FedEx and I mean when we are talking about people attacking "stat-heads", it's utterly ridiculous, and what's even more appalling is that the original article is so poorly written and thought out.

Ah, crap! I totally missed it in your original post.

I'm a little slow...

Billy Ashley
04-11-2008, 04:26 PM
Stat heads don't have trouble admitting when they are wrong: Human beings do.

I have no problem admitting that I think understanding the math behind baseball is incredibly important. Furthermore, I think anyone who denies the importance of saber only does so because they want to. Look at the people who actually run ball clubs: Theo Epstien, Billy Beane, Ricardo, Josh Byrnes, Brian Cashman ... they all have stat geeks on the pay roll.

On the other hand, statistics can't replace good old fashioned scouting. That's why successful teams place an emphasis on both.

As for admitting when they're wrong: I suspect Billy Beane would admit his drafting philosophy has been largely a failure in recent years, I suspect Theo Epstien would admit that running Edgar Renteria was a mistake....

I was wrong about Aramis Ramirez on the main board yesterday, I didn't look at all the data available and felt he has been an above average 3b over the past 5 years... it happens. People get it wrong a lot.

However, when someone makes an insane comment about saber geeks counting MVP awards, how Joe Crede is a better player than Ryan Zimmerman, or how Josh Fields is bound to be better than Adam Dunn where is the outrage? Where are the admissions of being incorrect?

Human beings don't like being wrong... no matter where our philosophical differences may lie that remains common among both groups.

Billy Ashley
04-11-2008, 04:31 PM
Other things I've been wrong about:

Austin Kearns, every year for the last 5 (and thus far this season too)
Hee Sop Choi
Robinson Cano (thought he was not long for the majors)
the 2006 Indians
Jeremy Reed (thought he was going to be a stud)
Matt Clement (thought he was the steal of the 2005 off season)
Both NLDS last season (I somehow still believe the Phillies made the World Series though... good god Col. and Arizone weren't that good last year)
The Miguel Tejada signing (felt it was way too much money at the time)

Lip Man 1
04-11-2008, 05:46 PM
Billy:

With all due respect, when you work for "publications" :rolleyes: like BP and such, then apologize... I'll be satisfied.

But you don't.

I'm specifically referring to those arrogant clowns who think they know everything there is to know about the game they probably never played at anything close to a reasonably competitive level.

I want their ilk to apologize for getting things wrong year after year after year, yet continue to act like nothing happened.

Lip

Lefty34
04-12-2008, 12:43 AM
Billy:
I'm specifically referring to those arrogant clowns who think they know everything there is to know about the game they probably never played at anything close to a reasonably competitive level.

I want their ilk to apologize for getting things wrong year after year after year, yet continue to act like nothing happened.
Lip

Let me preface this by saying this: I've had a few whiskey-cokes and just watched the White Sox scoreboard intro on YouTube on full blast lol.

Lip:

I know exactly what you mean when you say that you want an apology from these people for being so arrogant and self-assured year after year yet have a good number of their numbers be wrong year after year. But I believe that for FedEx and myself, along with other stat-geeks who do not align themselves with BP (those "arrogant clowns" as you so eloquently, and rightly put it), we might be put-off by your notion. BP is not the only statistical analysis firm out in the world, and personally, I like to rely on the guys over at STATS, Inc. for my baseball knowhow.

For me, those guys have actually combined the two things you and I have been talking about in that they both watch (scout) and record (analyze) players and games. It is through them (not BP, as I see it) that we know Derek Jeter is overrated defensively, and it is because of them that we know that Aaron Rowand is somewhat overrated as a defensive CF. These are the people that habitually toe the line between stat-geekiness and scouting-tunnel vision, and I believe those people are the ones who are the most efficient and correct.

On your point about requesting an apology for the years of arrogance by the guys from BP, Lip, I must ask you: where is the apology from the hundreds (if not thousands) of sportswriters like Greg Couch (http://sports.aol.com/voices/armstrong/_a/baseball-stats-mania-rates-a-zero/20080404150809990002) and Richard Griffin (http://thestar.blogs.com/baseball/2008/04/blue-jays-mail.html) and Bill Plaschke (http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/dodgers/la-sp-plaschke5mar05,1,3048420,full.column), who always seem to get away with ripping "stats-nerds" to shreds, just because they choose not to put all their eggs into the "he has great heart" basket? Where is our apology from the people who, repeatedly, hate the way we think about baseball (Joe Morgan) and try to force us back into the "he has an intangible amount of heart and guts" way of thinking? Why are people who refuse to see the other side of a sports story or way of thinking (see: Bill Plaschke and Jay Mariotti) still making money and in the print everyday? The answer to the above question makes even less sense when you count the number of forum posts (not necessarily WSI) that agree with the above baboons, along with the number of people who still whole-heartedly believe in my aforementioned da Passion and da Fire.

kaufsox
04-12-2008, 01:03 AM
Lefty:




And the other reason is because to me, these stats, inventing goofy things that you need a PHD to be able to figure out and the imbecilic nature of many of them
[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

Dude, what do you have against people with a PhD? :tongue:

EndemicSox
04-12-2008, 04:49 AM
That article was pretty bad, I'm not sure what he is trying to accomplish...times are a changin'...

chaerulez
04-12-2008, 01:11 PM
BP has an arrogance about them and it's very annoying, but you can't dismiss stats in this era like OPS or acknowleding that batting average, win-loss records, and rbi's are probably misleading stats.

ma-gaga
04-13-2008, 12:00 AM
Lefty, do you read Posnaski?

He has a very nice symposium on stats (http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/03/10/stats-i-like/) recently. His web site is probably my current favorite baseball blog. I actually cringe when I see that he's posted something because, they are so long. so good. so awesome. that I have no choice, but to stop working and spend 10-15 minutes going through one of his posts.

Stats are in the eye of the beholder. Some stats are beautiful to a certain number of people, and the same stats deeply offend others. You find some stats that work for you, and go with it. Trying to get everyone to agree on a good baseball stat is like trying to herd cats. Pointless, and just annoys the cat.

But you just have to have a thick skin. If you like WPA, or VORP, and want to use it as a stat to compare players, just be aware that some people will mock you. Fairly or unfairly.

:gulp:

fquaye149
04-13-2008, 09:40 AM
Sure, there are some ********s who think that stats tell them all they need to know.

That's not nearly as annoying as people who think them watching baseball tells them "all they need to know" even if the stats tell them differently.

There are some people who are as rigid as a birch tree that bunting a runner to second in late innings in a close game is a smart idea because their incredibly selective memory "remember that time the White Sox had a runner on first with no outs and struck out three times trying to swing for the fences playing three run homer moneyball". Never mind that statistics (which ACCURATELY record what has happened in the past) show that bunting the runner over is less likely to result in a run (depending on the hitters coming up, of course)

In conclusion, stats don't suck--people suck. If you think there is an absolute way to do things in the game of baseball and are unwilling to consider something because it's "sabr crap" OR "conventional wisdom" then you are wrong.

Bill James has the right idea--he tries his best with stats, but admits when there is something he doesn't know. When asked if clutch hitting exists he always says "I don't know," which frankly is the right answer.

FedEx227
04-13-2008, 11:59 AM
Bill James has the right idea--he tries his best with stats, but admits when there is something he doesn't know. When asked if clutch hitting exists he always says "I don't know," which frankly is the right answer.

Exactly, and even if he's unsure, he tries to do stats to find out, he has a Clutch Player of Year for close and late situations, and always admits fault and fallacies when he can find it.