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Chris Sale has no use for statistics and that’s totally fine

Apr 18, 2014, 8:47 AM EDT

Chris Sale Getty Images

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a story about Chris Sale and what makes him tick. One thing that doesn’t make him tick? Attention to advanced metrics. Or any metrics, really. He says he doesn’t look at his ERA or anything else all season. He just pitches. What’s more:

“All I know I’ve got to do is give up less runs than we score,” Sale said. “I don’t care about anything else. Not the numbers. Not the ISPFMLBLSSRs and whatever else Brian Kenny has come up with to define what makes a good player or not.”

Reminded the numbers love him, Sale said: “I don’t love them back.”

Sad. Because now he’ll never realize that when he lost his no-hitter by giving up a homer to Xander Bogaerts last night it was a textbook case of ISPFMLBLSSR regression. How he doesn’t care about that I have no idea.

In all seriousness, though: baseball players have no more of a need to know about or even care about advanced metrics than supernovas have to know about or care about telescopes. The stats aren’t for them, they’re for people trying to understand or explain what they do or trying to put teams together. And ballplayers did everything they do long before Henry Chadwick wrote down the first box score.

It’s one thing if a ballplayer seems to have no grasp of what he needs to do in order to perform his job well. That’s kind of a problem. But there’s no reason on Earth a ballplayer needs to understand why what he does is significant as long as he knows what the heck he’s doing. And Chris Sale knows what the heck he’s doing.

  1. crispybasil - Apr 18, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    That delivery tho

    • yahmule - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Stahp.

  2. cyclops1771 - Apr 18, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Don’t think, Meat. Just throw.

  3. cyclops1771 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    This guy’s a firstball, fastball hitter. Well, he hasn’t seen MY heat! Yep. Statistics and analysis has ZERO business is baseball. Just randomly do stuff because you are really good. Brilliant!

    • yahmule - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      You’re mistaking statistics for scouting reports. I’m sure Sale and Flowers go over the opposing team’s lineup before a game just like every other battery.

      • labfan30 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        Exactly. I’m sure he knows scouting reports and understands what hitters like to jump on. At the end of the day, every single player is different. Some guys like Tony Gwynn have video tape of every pitcher and study it non stop. Hanley Ramirez doesn’t want to watch anything.

        At the end of the day, so long as you produce, who gives a crap?

  4. chip56 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Yup…asking a ball player to care about advanced metrics is like asking him to care about how he’s performing on your fantasy team.

    The one time a player will care is when a guy like Brandon Phillips who has good traditional numbers but bad advanced metrics wants to talk contract.

    • raysfan1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      Forget the advanced metrics. Phillips needs to understand .272/.320/.428 is not as good as .314/.420/.542 and that RBI are partly a function of where one bats in the lineup. He simply would not have 707 career RBI if the second batter I mention didn’t get on base as often as he does.

  5. Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    I thought Gabe Kapler laid out a pretty good argument last year for how it can be beneficial for a player to understand how the advanced metrics rate him: http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2013/07/22/stats-101-time-to-re-educate-players-in-meaningful-statistics/

    I mean, it seems like it’d be a good thing for these guys to know how front offices are evaluating them and ultimately deciding on how much to pay them, right?

    • Bryz - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      Exactly, so they don’t end up like Jermaine Dye, who was delusional in thinking his 20 HR would benefit the team, but the teams avoided him because of his awful defense and refusal to DH.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      Depends on the player.

      Man, I can’t believe I just bothered writing that. But I think it’s true.

    • paperlions - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      I don’t think players have to have any deep understanding of stats. All they need to know are the basics. If you are a hitter, not making an out should almost always be priority number 1, it is by far the most important thing that drives scoring runs. If you are a pitcher, not letting guys on base should be priority number 1 and keeping the ball down (and therefore, probably, in the park) is number two…..most players (particularly pitchers) already know these things. They really don’t need to know or understand much more….just try to not make outs and try to get guys out…the theory behind winning games is really that simple.

      • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        I didn’t say they “have to” understand … I merely pointed out it could be useful.

      • paperlions - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        I wasn’t trying to disagree, just expanding the argument. I don’t think understanding the stats would ever be harmful, per se… players understanding how the skills they have and the choices they make lead to creating and preventing runs is important (I think), anything beyond that probably isn’t necessary or helpful.

        For example, if a catcher learns is taught how to improve his set up and body movement to increase the likelihood of pitches being strikes, that is all he needs to understand and execute….how his improvement translates into runs saved or wins is irrelevant to him performing the skill and being a better player.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Yeah it’s the difference between understanding what’s good and why it’s good. taking PL’s examples, a hitter should know that OBP is the most important stat. The hitter doesn’t need it explained that doing a correlation test, OBP tested highest to runs scored from all other stats. Just know that it’s the best stat. Similar to pitchers.

        Chip’s comment on Kapler is interesting, although I still hear that arbitration’s are done over traditional stats.

    • Kevin Gillman - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      As long as his angent knows, and understands, then it’s all good.

  6. sportsdrenched - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    I’ve never had that kind of athletic talent. But it seems to me, if you have that talent it’s best that you not over think things. That you just go out there and do your thing.

    I guess the same could be said if you’re good at math, or sales, or whatever it is that you’re good at.

  7. nymets4ever - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    I’m sure he’s happy you approve of his philosophy

    • 18thstreet - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      WHY ARE YOU HERE?!

  8. scatterbrian - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Just pitching to the score…

  9. infieldhit - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Funny thing is that Sale is a perfect example of the uselessness of the pitcher win. He had very similar numbers across the board the last two seasons, yet his records were markedly different.

    Maybe players don’t need to know advanced stats, but it’d probably help if they knew that some traditional ones shouldn’t be dwelled on.

  10. moogro - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    I think Sale is talking overall historical records. There’s no way he doesn’t talk about all the nuances of pitch selection in certain counts with certain hitters with his catcher and the pitching coach. That’s a pretty deep rabbit hole right there, so focusing on that is enough.

  11. baseballisboring - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I don’t believe any pitcher who says they don’t even look at their ERA all year. I mean, it’s on the scoreboard before every game he pitches.

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