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Old 11-19-2012, 02:15 PM
TDog TDog is offline
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Originally Posted by doublem23 View Post
If you have some understanding of what these stats are measuring and how they are formulated, and still don't want to put any stock into them, that is fine. Who am I to judge? I find batting average, pitcher's W-L record, and fielding percentage to all be increadibly useless, archiac numbers with no actual meaning. If that is how you feel about WAR and dWAR, that's just your opinion. As long as it is coming from a position of knowledge and not ignorance, is all right. I only object to the small (but vocal) sect of people who simply refute new, sabremetric stats as mental masturbation that is the work of demon number wizardry.
I'm not coming at this from a position of ignorance. I was reading Earnshaw Cook before I was reading Bill James. For all I know, I was reading Cook before James was reading Cook. (I've even read Robert Adair, who wrote about the actual science of baseball, unlike Cook and James, but it is relevant because people who know me have always considered me quite the baseball nerd.) The problem I have isn't that this numbers frighten and confuse me as if I am some unfrozen caveman baseball fan, but that I disagree with their validity on several levels, including my belief that they aren't predictive and that they don't keep up with the curve of what winning requires at the major league level.

Saying batting average is a useless stat not unlike a traditionalist saying OPS is a useless stat. Really, when you get down to it, OPS is a contrived stat, adding two averages, both of which have a foundation of batting average. But one difference is that the people who believe in sabermetics and argue that they are more meaningful than traditional stats believe they have much more meaning than fans place on traditional stats.

At the same time, the idea that on-base percentage is more important than batting average is seriously flawed. You want your lead-off man to reach base. You don't particularly care how. The problem is that scoring runs and winning games isn't only about putting men on base, as Ken Harrelson would tell you if he weren't seething in silence over the White Sox sqandering scoring opportunities in a close game. When your RBI men comes up with runners on base, their on-base percentages are irrelevant. You want them to drive in the runs with hits or productive outs depending on the situation. I want my No. 3 hitter to have a big batting average. In 2012, the No. 3 hitter for the White Sox had more RBI chances than any other position in the lineup. The fact that it had an overall .210 batting average, second worst on the team, is more telling than the fact that it had an .800 OPS, third best on the team. I don't have a statistical formula for how many games the White Sox would have won with a higher batting average serving as a foundation for the .800 OPS, just as I don't have a formula for how many games Konerko's lack of range cost the White Sox while ignoring throws in the dirt on inning-ending, men-on third double plays in close games.

Baseball isn't some Newtonian universe that exists in a vacuum of perfect spheres. It is chaos. I once asked former AL All-Star shorttop Jim Fregosi what his range factor was just to see the look on his face. Baseball is about coaches position players. It's about bad hops. It's about stealing signs. It's about a lot of things, but it isn't about that statistics that fall out or that people create because they are disatisfied that the statistics that fall out don't tell them more. In any given situation, OPS can be more useless than batting average and WHIP can be more meanigless as wins and losses (as fans who have followed Gavin Floyd may have noticed).

Condemning people for not accepting your stats is as bad as people condeming your stats for theirs. And I hope the traditionalists aren't as smug as the sabermetrics people.
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