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Murray Chass Newsbeat

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chass: BATTING AVERAGE JOINS PITCHING WINS IN BASEBALL’S ATTIC

Hey, Murray, is there room in your basement for Lupica and Madden? Can Mike and Bill munch on your Fruit Loops or must they bring their own boxes?

A “Keeping Score” column in The New York Times last week caught my attention with this start to a sentence: “While batting average may no longer hold much sway…”

Written by Benjamin Hoffman, the piece was about Yoenis Cespedes, the New York Mets’ surprising sensation, and his chances of winning the National League most valuable player award.Yoenis Cespedes Mets 225

Curious about that “batting average” phrase, I called Hoffman Tuesday night and asked him about it.

I don’t know Hoffman, never met him, never had spoken with him. However, simply by taking my call, he showed a lot more class than his superiors in the Times sports department.

“I think there’s been a pretty widespread move to emphasize other statistics, with organizations, even with fans,” Hoffman said.

And with Metrics Monsters. Don’t forget them. They concoct new metrics – I don’t like even the sound of that word – and in their arrogant way expect everyone to accept them as the Ten Commandments of baseball. You know, Thou shalt use WAR to vote for MVP and the Hall of Fame.

What has taken the place of batting average? “People have gone all over the place with it,” Hoffman said, “with some emphasizing on-base, slugging, adjusted figures that account for different parks and eras.”

I cannot tell you what magical letters denote those adjusted figures. I don’t want to know what they are. They are meaningless to me. ...

The supposed diminished significance of batting average is reminiscent of something I “learned” a couple of years ago when I was told and then read that wins for pitchers no longer mattered and never really did matter.

The Metrics Monsters and their allies decided that too many variables and factors entered into pitching’ decisions, and it therefore made no sense to credit a pitcher with a win just because he started a game, lasted at least five innings and his team won the game.

Just think. All those years we talked about 20-game winners, and now we had to discard all of that information and those records. It was bad enough when an MLB committee in 1992 defined or redefined what a no-hitter was. I didn’t agree with the committee’s decisions, and I don’t agree with all of this WAR and VORP business, though as a writer friend pointed out the other day we don’t hear much about VORP these days.

JEe (Jason) Posted: September 17, 2015 at 02:25 PM | 94 comment(s)
  Beats: advanced metrics, get off my lawn, murray chass, old coot, statistics

 

 

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