While the barriers between traditional and advanced baseball analysis are falling every day — hearing David Cone cite FanGraphs during a Yankees-Rays broadcast this week was awesome — there are still certain players who are a wedge between non-saberists and saberists. It’s always the same pattern: one side thinks Player X is awesome, the other doesn’t. Flame wars ensue. Each side cites statistics to back up their position, then declares that the other side’s statistics are worthless.
Ryan Howard is one of those players. Traditionalists love him because he posts huge home run and RBI totals; saberists say he’s overvalued because of those same stats. And so the fight continues — wOBA vs. HRs, WAR vs. RBIs. In the end, the debate isn’t about Howard at all — it’s about which stats you want to believe.
I noticed one of these pro-Howard, anti-WAR columns the other day and it made me curious: Can I explain why Ryan Howard’s 2011 season is overrated without using sabermetric statistics? Can I point out that his contract overpays him without using information that would turn off a casual baseball fan? As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to do — though it’s worth noting that saberists might be dismissing Howard’s RBI “skills” too quickly.
Thanks to Tripp.
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