Sep 12, 2011, 1:35 PM EST
A friend asked me if there was a point to the “Moneyball” movie coming out now, several years after the book. All of the lessons its insights have long since been coopted and mainstreamed, my friend said. It’s kind of old news.
I considered the argument for a minute and, as I often do, I randomly surged the web as I thought. I somehow landed on Jerry Green’s column in the Detroit News, lamenting the fact that “narrow-minded” baseball writers will “gyp” Justin Verlander of the MVP award because they’re under the spell of voodoo baseball metrics:
The problem is with the voters, the select journalists in the Baseball Writers Association assigned to the voting. Two from each franchise city. And the problem is that this exotic math known as Sabermetrics has contaminated baseball’s once-neat statistical system. We have cryptic designations such as WHIP and WAR and OPS thrown about by stats geeks who believe themselves to be geniuses with ciphers.
And you know exactly what’s next. No, not some call for a more subjective criteria for MVP. A desire to insert drama and good stories into the mix. I could at least understand that kind of argument as an appeal for something different. No, what comes next is Green saying “all of these stats are awful” and proving the point by citing … other stats:
I prefer the ancient meat-and-potatoes stats — a better mixture. Batting average, home runs, runs batted in, runs scored for the position players. Victories, earned run average and strikeouts for pitchers.
And what I do know is that Justin Verlander has won 22 games this season against five losses. His total projects to 24 or 25 victories. No other pitcher in the major leagues is anywhere near him. And I know that his strikeout total, 232, is the highest in baseball and that his ERA, 2.24, is tied with Jered Weaver‘s for the lowest in the American League.
All that is in the baseball’s ancient stats info. You could look it up — as this ancient did.
As always, these arguments are not about statistics. Or even about baseball. They’re about politics. Tradition vs. modernity. Fear of change in a changing world. Baseball statistics are simply the McGuffin in this grand debate. It could just as easily be music, hairstyles or the height of one’s pants.
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- Chris Sale will be sidelined for three weeks with foot fracture 10
- Aramis Ramirez says 2015 will be his last year 31
- Francisco Rodriguez re-signs with the Brewers 9
- If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended 290
- Pirates open to massive extension for Andrew McCutchen 18
- Report: Josh Hamilton had a relapse this offseason that “involved at least cocaine” 86
- Yankees don’t plan on having to pay A-Rod’s $30 million in home run milestone bonuses 51
- If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended (290)
- San Francisco — and all of California — will consider a smokeless tobacco ban that includes MLB parks (131)
- Report: The Yankees were “fuming” at how A-Rod handled his early arrival to spring training (114)
- Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada reportedly signs with the Red Sox for $31.5 million, plus $31.5 million in penalties (106)
- Brian Sabean says that California taxes are a hindrance to the Giants signing free agents (102)