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Thoughts on dictating the Sabermetric Agenda

Sep 13, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Marx Lennon

Some more stuff spinning out of Brian Kenny’s crusade to Kill The Win. This from Mike Bates at SB Nation, who you may know better as The Common Man. Mike is clearly in the camp of the statistical analysts and views baseball from a sabermetric perspective. That said, he’s not on board with Kenny’s crusade. Indeed, he argues today that, while it’s wonderful if someone chooses to get into the stats stuff, it’s silly and harmful to force it upon people like his grandma. I find myself in basic agreement with him.

My thing on stats: no fan should be expected to care about sabermetrics or to even familiarize themselves with it just to enjoy baseball. I spent 20 years watching baseball before I had even heard of sabermetrics and I somehow managed to love the hell out of it. I presume most of you all did too.  Of course, getting into sabermetrics enriched my experience as a baseball fan and I’m oh so glad it did. I also think that sabermetrics will enrich most fans’ experiences in that, as in all things, information tends to make people happier. But I’m not going to force it down anyone’s throat and I don’t think anyone else should either.

There are two important caveats to all of this, of course:

1. While you can be a fan and ignore statistical analysis and what it reveals all you want, you don’t have the same excuse if you work in baseball or analyze it for a living. Scouts, GMs, and professional writers who make it their business to explain the game to people — and especially those whose job it is to hand out awards and Hall of Fame votes — have a duty to understand more deeply than a common fan. They can no sooner ignore this stuff than a doctor can ignore a new procedure or a pilot can ignore a weather report. When Brian Kenny attacks your grandma for thinking pitcher wins matter, he’s out of line. When he goes after broadcasters and analysts who do so, he’s doing God’s work; and

2. If you are a common fan who doesn’t care much for statistical analysis, but you decide you want to argue about player value and things that can be derived from statistical analysis with someone who is conversant with it, don’t sit there and complain about the person citing advanced metrics to make their case. The person doing the citing certainly does not have the right to be an obnoxious ass about it, but they shouldn’t be expected to ignore basic information just because you choose to ignore it. And if you really want to understand something better — as opposed to merely wanting to be an ass in an argument yourself — you’ll maybe think about using some of the tools to do so. Like stats.

That stuff aside? Man, enjoy the game all you want. Laud the 20-game winners and the .300 hitters and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re obligated to shovel a glimpse into the ditch of what those stats mean.

  1. woodenulykteneau - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    “The person doing the citing certainly does not have the right to be an obnoxious ass about it.”

    That’s an awfully clever way of referencing Tom Tango.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      That’s the weirdest spelling of MGL I’ve ever seen.

  2. Walk - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    I tend to favor this articles sentiment. I would go so far as to say we should adopt it as the hbt unwritten rules that are written down.

    • Old Gator - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      “If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.”

      • paperlions - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:40 PM

        …or it might just spin around and hit you in the back side….depends on the axis around which it rotates.

      • 4d3fect - Sep 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        “How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at aaallll.
        -Think I’ll take this baby out for a spin on the freeway..”

  3. Mark Armour - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Basically agree, but I wonder if equating the importance of newer baseball analytics with the latest information used by doctors and pilots isn’t part of the problem?

    The problem often isn’t who is right and wrong, but how people give it an importance far beyond what it deserves. Is Kenny right that the win is an overvalued stat? Sure, we have known this for 30 years. But he has, at least publicly, allowed this to define his career. The people building baseball teams understand all this stuff. The rest of it seems a bit overplayed to me.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      There’s certainly theater and branding to it all. Guys like Tango and Sheehan have pretty clearly decided that being forceful and uncompromising is how they’d prefer to make their arguments. Kenny is doing what I presume to be an “overshoot the mark in order to change some minds, even if it risks alienating people” thing, partially in the interest of creating his own brand. I would imagine, privately, they would admit that they could be less abrasive if they chose to.

      As for the doctors/pilots: just trying to use an example of professional competence. I think even the most ardent SABR crusaders would acknowledge that, Jesus, this is just baseball.

      • Mark Armour - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Agree. I think that the uncompromising nature of the some of the arguments appeals to, and therefore draws in, people who (a) agree, and (b) are similarly uncompromising, which leads to increased tension and division.

        This is just baseball? Yes, it is. But talking (fighting) about baseball awards and the Hall of Fame has gone from 10% to 90% of the discussion, especially in the blogosphere, and seems to be what many people now thing of of as “baseball”. And here we are!

      • eightyraw - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:31 PM

        I don’t see Tango as being forceful and uncompromising (and definitely don’t think he is an asshole, like the first commenter remarks). He maintains his blog with the goal of opening discussions. But he demands evidence if questioned, and he makes this stance known. I think his tone might scare people off. I acknowledge that his challenging nature can be off-putting to some.

        Similarly, MGL will often reply to a Neyer article and he will seem condescending, but he tries to hold someone he respects accountable for statements where evidence is available and was ignored.

      • danaking - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        I used to read Tango’s site daily and always go on well with him. I finally stopped reading because i got tired of MGL telling everyone who didn’t agree with him they knew nothing about baseball, including all 30 MLB managers. Enough was enough.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I finally stopped reading because i got tired of MGL telling everyone who didn’t agree with him they knew nothing about baseball, including all 30 MLB managers.

        It’s not just that he thinks everyone who disagrees knows nothing, it’s the sheer disdain he has with people. He’s a giant asshole, and I was really happy when he stopped posting on Tango’s site. Unfortunately he’s come back, and he’s back to doing the same shit that caused him to stop posting in the first place.

        He’s a smart man, but he’s the prime example of a person whose message gets lost because of how he delivers it.

      • eightyraw - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        MGL rubs nearly everyone the wrong way. But it would be a shame to tune him out. I recognize that I am in the minority, but I hated his absence.

      • weaselpuppy - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:28 PM

        People with a bend towards mathematics and analysis not being able to present their position with the requisite people skills to keep their position from being persuasive because they come off as narrow minded, know it all a-holes?


      • eightyraw - Sep 13, 2013 at 6:44 PM

        MGL and Tango aren’t out to persuade.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        People with a bend towards mathematics and analysis not being able to present their position with the requisite people skills to keep their position from being persuasive because they come off as narrow minded, know it all a-holes?

        You’re painting with an awful large brush here. Tango has no issues whatsoever explaining to people the math behind what he does. In fact, many of JoePos’s posts are done with an idea, and using Tango to run the math behind it. The problem Tango has if people question the actual math used, which he’s pretty much an expert at.

        MGL just doesn’t care what people think. It’s his way or the highway, and he’ll be an asshole to boot about it.

  4. ezthinking - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    The conversation that sucks is:

    Fan 1 – I love watching Derek Jeter play.

    Fan 2 – Yeah but his zone rating, WAR, OPS+, all suck in comparison to(fill in the blank).

    Fan 1 – But it’s great to see him command the field, make a play, come up in the clutch.

    Fan 2 – Yeah but over time everyone’s BA in close-and-late ends up essentially equaling their career stats, and Andrus or Ryan or Hardy or Segura or Gergarious all make the play up the middle better, and then ……

    Fan 1 – I’ve got to go, the game is on soon.

    That plays out on the message boards and in the bars all the time. If you’re arguing value, go for it. If you’re talking about who you like to watch, stuff the stats.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      I’d add that this conversation sucks too:

      Fan 1: Derek Jeter is the best. Look at him make that jump-throw. Best shortstop in the game!

      Fan 2: Well, that was cool, but he’s actually pretty poor. If he was faster and had better range he wouldn’t need the jump throw. And frankly, he misses a lot of balls.


      Fan 2: Well, you made an assertion — Derek Jeter is the best shortstop in the game — and it’s demonstrably false. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy him play.

      Fan 1: STAT NERD STAT NERD!!!

      • Mark Armour - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        I wonder if this conversation could have gone in a different direction.

        Fan 1: Derek Jeter is the best. Look at him make that jump-throw. Best shortstop in the game!

        Fan 2: He sure is fun to watch, I agree.

        I would suggest that Fan 1 was not looking for an argument, but rather expressing a simple emotion that baseball fans have likely had for 140 years, and that Fan 2 decided that Fan 1 needed to be “fixed”.

        Unless Fan 2 believes that the two of them both desire to have a respectful and intelligent discussion of the matter, I do not get the motivation of Fan 2.

      • mikhelb - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        As somebody who loves sabrmetrics I can also say this: a lot of people who use sabrmetrics know just basic statistics and end up asserting things like “Derek Jeter is the worst SS of all time because…” and rely on incomplete information to try and make their point.

        One of Bill James works on why Jeter was the worst SS assumed that every SS had the same chances and assumed every pitching staff was the same, why? because he comitted an error common to novices: he averaged the 30 pitching staffs. Sure you can do that but first you’ve got to check if there’s statistical differences between them; that year (I can’t remember what year it was) the pitching staff of the Yanks induced significatively less grounders towards the left side of the infield. James also goes on to dismiss the existence of a thirdbasemen and a second baseman, and goes on to credit a SS because he fielded a ball in 3B/2B territory, while all it says is: Shortstop X seems to be flanked by a below average fielding 3B and a 2B or his 3B and 2B know of his prowess and decide not to field.

        Are all sabrmetricians wrong? No, but a lot are, but it is ok, it is understandable when we take into account most love sabrmetrics because of the power that comes with advanced statistics (even when most sabrmetrics are basic stats).

        How can you know when an analysis is well done: when it doesn’t uses averages including the study subject in the pool averaged.

        Why? because sure you can average the value of a series of subjects and then compare with the average their “unique” value, but what happens when you have a series like the following?

        AB’s value is 1
        AC’s value is 1
        AD’s value is 1
        AE’s value is 1
        BB’s value is 10

        The average value is 14/6 = 2.33

        AB, AC, AD, AE are all below average, BB is well above average.

        Sure with databases large enough you can get away with doing that, but when we’re talking about defensive metrics in baseball, you’re mostly comparing ONE player with 30 full time players and quite a lot of replacement players who have reduced playing time; and to make matters worse: when normalization is applied to a series of data consisting of only 30 points (30 pitching staffs, withouth even checking if one or more of the staffs are significantly different from the rest).

        From sabrmetrician to sabrmetrician: there’s a lot to be gained with advanced statistics, but there’s a lot to be lost with poorly calculated statistics.

      • mikhelb - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        DANG hahahaha

        14/5 = 2.8

        I don’t like that there’s no way to edit a comment.

      • chip56 - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        Mark Armour said it perfectly below. 9 times out of 10 when a fan who doesn’t give a crap about advanced metrics makes a comment like “I love watching Jeter play” or “Triple Crown was a heckuva accomplishment by Miguel Cabrera” he’s not looking for an argument. He’s just trying to express something that is fun and/or exciting to him and yet there’s always a (to use Craig’s term) “Stat nerd” there ready to pick a fight.

      • eightyraw - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:50 PM


        So a Bill James study is incorrect, and didn’t pass the smell test among his peers. How then do you jump to the conclusion that most sabremetricians are wrong?

      • raysfan1 - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        This dialog last year really sucked (can’t call it a conversation, it was too short), and it occurred on this blog:

        Other fan: Miguel Cabrera is the best! He’s the MVP, nobody else is even close! Those stat geeks going on about Trout are idiots.
        Me: Cabrera is awesome, but there is a point to touting Trout– he’s a better fielder and base runner.
        Other fan: Stat geek!

        This is of course paraphrased, but I had not even mentioned any advanced stats. There are unfortunately some who, I guess, just like being pugnacious regardless of which side of the traditional stats vs advanced stats “debate” they fall.

      • ezthinking - Sep 13, 2013 at 7:38 PM

        I’m with all of you on your additions to my post. The converse is certainly true. A good stat fight can be fun, but so is enjoying the player. It’s the criss-crossing of the two that leads to suck “conversations.”

        I can say I do like watching Jeter play, but not as much as I like watching Tulo. And statistically, I don’t think there is much I’d care to compare.

        Brandon Phillips is a joy to watch play second, Beltre is an entertaining at bat. Are they the best statistically? Maybe. But, most of the time I like the “fun” discussion over the “stat” one.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      That plays out on the message boards and in the bars all the time. If you’re arguing value, go for it. If you’re talking about who you like to watch, stuff the stats.

      Paraphrasing Tom Tango here, and I can’t find the exact quote because his old boards are gone, but he basically said if you want to talk/write/argue about everything that makes baseball a great game, do it. Talk/write/argue about the smell of the fresh cut grass, the crack of the ball hitting the bat, the smack of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt, the roar of the crowd during a game winning home run or groan’s when the best player strikes out. Talk/write/argue about that stuff because we love it, and we can’t get enough of it. That’s your realm (the writers specifically).

      However, if you want to talk about how a player is better than another, or someone is overrated, or that Derek Jeter is the best SS ever, now you’re in Tango’s realm. And he has the information to back up his arguments. Do you?

      (and that’s a universal you, not specifically ezthinking).

  5. stex52 - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    BTW, Craig. I like the old “Firesign Theatre” album cover. You are a man after my own heart. Even if you weren’t born when they were popular.

    I’m sure Gator approves, too.

  6. JB (the original) - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Actually, who I know as The Common Man is Dan Cole, radio host on KFAN here in Mpls.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      There’s another Common Man who is a radio guy here in Columbus.

      It’s a … common nickname.

      • bfunk1978 - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM


      • DJ MC - Sep 13, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        I assume he has a partner named Bulldog?

  7. xmatt0926x - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    I like Brian Kenney and what he does. My only issue is he sometimes pushes it too far, especially when hosting MLB Tonight. I like his energy as host but I think he sometimes speaks to his co-hosts (the old school guys) in a dismissive tone in reference to the stats when reviewing the highlights.

    It will be something to the effect of “hey Larry (Bowa), look, he gave up 5 runs but got the win!”. It’s funny here and there but sometimes he just keeps it up to the point you just wish his co-hosts would tell him to stfu, even though I agree with his overall point.

    There’s room for his views but he doesn’t have to constantly pound his viewers and co-workers with it to the point of annoyance. I remember one night about 3 months ago Joe Magrane looked like he was ready to pummel him right then and there if he didn’t back off.

    • xmatt0926x - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      **EDIT- Brian Kenny

    • DJ MC - Sep 13, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      Unfortunately, the co-hosts in question tend to speak in the same way about the way Kenny analyzes the game (generally speaking, not necessarily to him), so they don’t get to complain.

  8. sadtwinsfan - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    some of the tension between non stat people and stat advocates may be from the dramatic changes in how the game is played which have come about through the years. when guys like koufax, mcclain, gibson, carlton had bunches of wins it really was an indication of how good they were

    1972, steve carlton goes 27-10 on a phillies team that went 59 -97. he was probably able to get all those wins instead of a boatload of non descions which turned out to be losses for his team because he went 346 innings

    2003 roy halliday, probably about as good as carlton relative to his era, goes 266 innings and goes 22-7, but for a jays team which went 86-76

    sure if carlton 72 season happens post 2000 he probably only gets about 15 wins, but that doesn’t mean that those 27 wins were chopped liver, it just means that it would be grossely unfair to compare his and halliday’s win totals, or for that matter to compare carlton’s win totals to cy young.

    and it is also not true that the pitchers of earlier eras were able to throw more innings then pitchers today because they had to walk to school through snow storms or something, its because the game today, apparently, is being played harder then ever, pushing the limits of human physiology

  9. NatsLady - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Unfortunately, I don’t watch Baseball Tonight because it comes on at the same time as, y’know, baseball games. I wish they would re-run it in the morning instead of endless loops of game results. Game results I can look up, but if the analysis is interesting I might like to hear it.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      That’s funny. I don’t watch Baseball Tonight because it comes on, y’know ESPN, and as a rule I avoid ESPN like the plague.

      • moogro - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        This. Even with it’s (people) problems, MLB Tonight is better than Baseball Tonight always.

      • NatsLady - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        Good point–I don’t watch either one… because I’m watching actual baseball games until the West Coast games are over or I fall asleep, whichever comes first.

      • km9000 - Sep 13, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        ESPN’s analysts are more bland, but they’re also more laid-back. Some of MLBN’s guys seem more dogmatic and all “I played the game!” Not all, but it’s enough to lose my interest.

        And ESPN will casually throw out advanced stats even if they don’t get too detailed in the discussion of them.

    • APBA Guy - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      I used to watch BBTN w/ Steve Berthiaume-he was absolutely great at drawing in the ex-jocks and hitting all his video marks at the same time. Now that he’s gone (lucky fans in AZ) the current host crop is well below par, and the shows drag, except when Keith Law or Doug Glanville is on.

      The other problem is that they seem to be using the exact same highlights as on Quick Pitch.

      They’ve had problems with host transition before, like when Brian Kenny left the show, or was exiled, etc. They usually get past that, eventually. But they seem awfully moribund this year. And frankly, as a male, if I’m not gonna get any new information I’d rather look at Heidi Watney read a script than John Sciambi.

  10. shanabartels - Sep 13, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Very interesting article, and very interesting take on the article.

    Craig, I have a follow up question for you: would you lump players in with category number one of industry people who really should make an effort to understand the stats?

    I ask this because I met a minor leaguer (and not just any minor leaguer — he’s considered a very elite prospect) a few months ago and apropos of nothing, he declared with a kind of sneer that he doesn’t know or care what OPS is. I muttered “It’s just on-base plus slugging. It’s not that complicated” but decided not to argue the point, because there’s really no point in trying to reason with someone who had already decided to act like that. (Perhaps I should clarify that this conversation happened at a bar and he had already knocked back a few beverages.)

    Now, you know and I know that OPS isn’t even really an advanced stat. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the super-advanced stuff is beyond me, but I like knowing a pitcher’s WHIP and I can at least sort of appreciate the idea of WAR in the abstract even if I barely understand the calculus that goes into it. In other words, I like having information at my disposal, but I don’t go wayyyyyy off the deep end with it.

    So I guess here is the real question: Is this kid doing himself a disservice by refusing to learn about metrics that could, at least in theory, give him a clearer idea of how he’s performing? I mean, if he can get a better read on which things he’s doing well and which things he might want to work on a little more, wouldn’t that help him do his job better? I know these guys aren’t paid to be analysts, but I feel like ignoring the available information is counterproductive somehow.

    It’s easy to argue both sides, I guess. Just food for thought.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      I don’t care of players know it. I’d say they shouldn’t make an effort to, as there is always something better they can be doing. I feel like they should know that getting on base is better than making an out and that making outs are actually the worst thing. I feel like they should gear their game to making fewer outs. I also feel like, unless they were coached by lunatics, they generally know this.

      If they don’t or if they are being coached to the contrary, yes, that’s a problem. But it’s not their job to know the stats.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:09 PM

        I would agree, except knowing the right stats is important to many players. Say for example pitcher A knows that Batter B swings at 90% of first pitch fastballs outside the zone. There are two basic types of stats. Those that are a measure of performance, others are a measure of tendencies. And the second is vitally important to a player’s performance.

      • shanabartels - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Valid points all around.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Is this kid doing himself a disservice by refusing to learn about metrics that could, at least in theory, give him a clearer idea of how he’s performing?

      It depends on the metric, and even after that it’s better to know the principle behind the metric than what the metric is. For instance, it doesn’t matter if a player knows what OPS is. Knowledge of, or lack thereof, OPS won’t make a hitter better or not. Does the player understand that making outs is bad, because it’s the one limiter of baseball? If yes, that’s great. But that doesn’t mean he needs to cite how you calculate OBP. The same with WAR. If a player knows that’s it’s great to be really good in all aspects of baseball, that’s what matters. Or that you are a great hitter but could be a great player if he worked on baserunning and/or defense, that matters. Does he need to know how to calculate WAR to do so? No.

      • shanabartels - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        That’s fair.

    • NatsLady - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      I very much like knowing a pitcher’s WHIP. It’s not hard to explain and the more base runners, the more times the pitcher goes from the stretch, the more pitches he throws per inning, the more opportunities there are for the opponent to steal, bunt, etc.–all factors that affect his performance. I’m with Steve McCatty in that I don’t particularly care that much HOW the pitcher keeps guys off the basebaths (strikeouts, ground outs, pop flies), but getting that first guy out is key, and I wish that was an easily trackable stat (like first pitch strikes).

      OPS is okay, but since I can mentally add it up if I see the slash line, I’m fine with the slash line–I’d rather see the components.

      My issue with WAR is the defensive and baserunning components. The other day Jayson Werth got himself caught in a rundown, allowing the other two runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd, from whence they were driven in by a single. Once he saw they could advance safely, he lay down and let himself get tagged. It was terrific baserunning, but how does it show up in WAR? How does the defensive component evaluate a smooth guy like Span, who gets great jumps so he rarely needs to make diving catches or smash up against walls? Is there a place where you can see each play broken down and how the spotter evaluated it? If there is, someone please let me know, I’d LOVE to see it!

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        Baserunning is done via a few components, stolen bases and caught stealing, and things like how often a person takes the extra base. I’m not sure if the “get caught in a rundown so a player can score” is a positive because, technically, the player made an out.

        For defense it depends on the metric used, Total Zone vs Defensive Runs Saved vs Ultimate Zone Rating. Regardless, diving or lack thereof has no impact on it. It’s plays made vs plays not made. Here’s some links:

        UZR Primer (fWAR) –
        Total Zone (rWAR) –

    • km9000 - Sep 13, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      My thought is if they want to get paid, they should know what it is that GMs look at. And I’d figure agents would explain that to their clients.

      If a FA pitcher has a great record but poor peripherals, he shouldn’t be too shocked if big offers don’t come his way.

      More to your point, I’d think if these guys strive to be elite major leaguers, they’d want as much information as they can get

  11. aroomadazda - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Firesign Theater!!! Nick Danger, Third Eye.

    • birdman6824 - Sep 13, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      And a great “Who’s On First” starring Daltrey and Townsend

    • jimatkins - Sep 13, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      The future’s coming and there’s no place to hide. Firesign forever.

  12. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    I could not agree more with number 1, which is why I get so irritated with people like Joe Morgan and Jim Memolo (MLB Network Radio Morning Host) when they go off on those “silly saber guys”, and then continue to profess their ignorance when making some silly point about who the MVP or Cy Young should really be.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      What drives me crazy about the anti-stat crowd is that they, themselves, lean on statistics.

      “Don’t tell me who had the best batting average on Wednesdays after a full moon! All I need to know is Ryan Howard has the most RBIs!”

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 13, 2013 at 11:26 PM

        Exactly! They don’t seem to understand that we are all relying on stats, but the Saber guys are attempting to find better stats that tell a truer picture.

  13. posterkid88 - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    This article is the nicest way of stating that stat heads can be totally intolerant of opposing views.

    We’ll leave the yokels alone who just come to see a game. However, if you consider yourself more than a common fan and actually want to talk about the game, you have to embrace sabremetrics or else.

    Since when did Sabremetrics become the one true Catholic church of baseball.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Since when did Sabremetrics become the one true Catholic church of baseball.

      The same day they stopped teaching reading comprehension. No one, either in this article, nor TCM’s article, nor the comments here are making that statement. But yet it keeps coming up that we are.

    • crackersnap - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:13 PM

      Baseball fans have been intolerant of opposing views from the dawn of time. Fan debates about relative player skills and contributions are the very thread from which the fabric of baseball popularity itself is woven. And these discussions, debates and arguments have always been bolstered by numbers as a key component of the information of baseball itself. The difference, IMHO, is that the information now available reaches well beyond what fit into the newspaper box scores that have been the lifeblood of baseball. Some people are just more comfortable with aligning the smaller number sets with what they have observed.

      But when any baseball fan gets all excited and proclaims: “[Jeter is the] best shortstop in the game!”, the really are challenging any other baseball fan on any other opinion. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but to pretend otherwise is to ignore every barbershop in America over the past 100 years.

    • paperlions - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      “Stat heads” is a misnomer is there ever was one since, in general, “stat heads” that are baseball fans only delved into the stats begin with because of their love of baseball. There is no such thing as a fan of baseball stats that does not love baseball, those sterotypes are just an attempt to belittle the perspective of others (and a perspective that leads to greater understanding and appreciation of the game).

      ….and it isn’t just “stat heads” that can be intolerant of opposing views…because fans that subscribe to traditional baseball stats are at least as intolerant of “stat heads”….mostly, because they don’t like having (and generally losing) arguments that can be dominated information they don’t understand and are hostile towards.

  14. holliswatson - Sep 13, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Even Brian Kenny must sometimes have to stand naked.

    • moogro - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:12 PM


  15. elmo - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    At their worst, advanced stats types can be both zealots and pedants at the same time. Which is sort of impressive, in a way.

    I don’t mean to unfairly generalize, just to say that they are much more persuasive when simply being reasonable, without all the “revolutionary” mania.

  16. bolweevils2 - Sep 13, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    They act like the traditional stats are on the verge of extinction due to sabermetrics, when in reality it’s sabermetrics which most people don’t have a clue about. When you watch a game, what stats do they talk about when they are saying a player is good (or bad): Batting average, RBI, Wins/losses, ERA. No wonder the average fan thinks those are the stats that matter, that’s all that is ever discussed when you watch a game.

    I don’t expect them to start throwing out the really complicated stuff, but certainly even more basic stats like OPS would give far better insight than just BA. (Though they do talk OBP more than they used to)

    It’s not that the win has to be dead, it’s that it can’t be front and center as the main pitching stat that matters the way it is now. The longer it is, the more generations will grow up thinking it’s means something. (Well, it does mean something. Odds are extremely good a 20 win guy is better than an 8 win guy. But it’s like measuring temperature by the sales of ice cream. Sure, there’s a correlation, but why not measure it directly?)

    • km9000 - Sep 13, 2013 at 8:15 PM

      I think the ice cream analogy has come up here before, and even that was subject to debate.

  17. Section 222 - Sep 13, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Say what you will about Brian Kenny, his Kill the Win crusade has advanced the position that wins don’t matter more than anything since King Felix won the Cy Young. And I actually don’t think he’s obnoxious about it. He listens respectfully to Harold or Mitch or any of the other old school guys and makes his point with a smile.

    I’m always amused by the guys who criticize stats heads, who then talk about BA, RBIs, and pitcher Ws. They are relying on stats just as much as anyone else — just the wrong stats.

  18. bh192012 - Sep 13, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    I’m not going to say it’s a good idea to force advanced stats on someone…….. I will say that pitcher “wins” are as interesting in a discussion about how good a pitcher is as 2nd inning shutouts. As in:

    Not me: Did you see Max Scherzer is almost to 20 wins?
    Me: Yeah, but he’s 112th in 2nd inning ERA.
    Not me: You have to admit Scherzer must have “it” to get that many wins.
    Me: Ryan Dempster is leading “it” with 6.21 supporting runs per start.

    Pitcher wins are about as important to baseball as bat color. I like the one Albert Callaspo’s been using lately, it has slight black swirling/rings. It looks kinda stately but dangerous. Puts the fear of Callaspo into a pitchers mind, which is the reason why he gets any walks at all.

    • louhudson23 - Sep 14, 2013 at 4:51 AM

      It is statements like “Pitcher wins are about as important to baseball as bat color.” that bring the whole thing to a head. Obviously,pitcher wins are more important than bat color. To say that pitcher wins is not the most important stat or is less important than ______.. or that pitcher wins have been historically over emphasized, or that a low/high number of wins can be mitigated by _____and not necessarily the pitchers performance are all true statements….Comments like “Pitcher wins are about as important to baseball as bat color ” is simply inaccurate as well as silly,however commonly uttered…

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