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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BPro: Murphy: The Tyranny of Acronyms

Take the two common reactions to the term, “FIP.”

Reaction A

1. Frank reads the word “FIP” in a story about Jonathan Papelbon’s performance.
2. Frank’s eyes feed the term “FIP” to his brain.
3. Frank’s brain processes “FIP” as Fielding Independent Pitching, a metric that combines a pitcher’s strikeout, walk, and home run rates.
4. Frank’s brain reacts with a judgment about Jonathan Papelbon’s ability to produce strikeouts and limit walks and home runs.

Reaction B

1. Joe reads the word “FIP” in a story about Jonathan Papelbon’s performance.
2. Joe’s eyes feed the term “FIP” to his brain.
3. Joe’s brain reacts by telling him to write a poorly punctuated and improperly capitalized email telling David Murphy to go bleep himself and that we need to go back to the days where pitchers were judged on the things that actually matter, like striking batters out and limiting runs and walks.

Because we are readers of Baseball Prospectus, most of us are prone to Reaction A.  But that does not mean that we are operating with brains that have evolved to the point where they are immune from Reaction B. For example, how would your brain have reacted if I had started this column off by telling you that, since 2006, no player in the major leagues has more RBIs than Ryan Howard? And what if I told you that I was going to use part of my allotted space to defend the RBI as a legitimate part of a player’s record? If I read those words from another writer, my internal siren would have started flashing, “Fraudulent! Fraudulent! Fraudulent!”

Thanks to Vagts.

Repoz Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:19 AM | 136 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Gonfalon B. Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:44 AM (#4386742)
According to the Don Martin Sound Effect Dictionary, FIP-FIP is the sound of a "cow's udder moving." This is not to be confused with FIP FOP FIDDIT FAP, which is a survival raft inflating.

The site is unclear. What is Joey Votto's BREEDEET? Who led all relievers in TOONK? What is replacement value SKLERCH?
   2. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:06 AM (#4386761)
It's going to be an uphill climb if the Indians are to contend in the AL Central this year, but their projected SNAP PLOOBADOOF scores would suggest they've got a shot.

(Great link, GB.)
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:22 AM (#4386765)
TINSSAAPP will always be my favourite baseball acronym, and its not even a stat. I'm sure if a troglodyte sportswriter saw that and believed the statheads actually had the nerve to create a stat so obscure and complex that it required a 9-letter acronym they'd freak out.
   4. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:36 AM (#4386770)
TINSSAAPP will always be my favourite baseball acronym

You like it so much, you can't even spell it right?

Because we are readers of Baseball Prospectus, most of us are prone to Reaction A. But that does not mean that we are operating with brains that have evolved to the point where they are immune from Reaction B. For example, how would your brain have reacted if I had started this column off by telling you that, since 2006, no player in the major leagues has more RBIs than Ryan Howard? And what if I told you that I was going to use part of my allotted space to defend the RBI as a legitimate part of a player’s record? If I read those words from another writer, my internal siren would have started flashing, “Fraudulent! Fraudulent! Fraudulent!”

This is of course dumb. I am assuming most of us know why RBI's are dumb. Thus when we see the acronym we go through a process similar to the one described by Frank's brain in the first part.

1. Primate reads the word “RBI” in a story about Ryan Howard’s performance.
2. Primate’s eyes feed the term “RBI” to his brain.
3. Primate’s brain processes “RBI” as Runs Batted In, a metric that relies mostly on things outside of Ryan Howard's control, such as opportunity, park factors, baserunning ability of the runners on base, etc.
4. Primate’s brain reacts with a judgement that Ryan Howard's RBI total is virtually meaningless in trying to evaluate his actual performance..
   5. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:39 AM (#4386771)
There Is No Such Thin.....bahh!
   6. Spectral Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:55 AM (#4386778)
This is a false equivalence so strong that it's on the order of saying that people that accept evolution and creationists both have faith. Really, it's that bad. I'm fine with the critique that us statsy folks overestimate our knowledge at times, but I'd wager that just about none of us see "RBI" and think \"#### that ####, I don't even know what that means, but I do know it means nothing". The Reaction B to FIP shown above really is the reaction of an idiot; Reaction B against RBI doesn't exist outside of the fevered imagination of the writer.
   7. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4386786)
The Reaction B to FIP shown above really is the reaction of an idiot; Reaction B against RBI doesn't exist outside of the fevered imagination of the writer.


Because everyone you disagree with is an idiot, and no one you agree with would ever be short sighted, ill tempered or intellectually ungenerous. Later, you can tell me about how beautiful your women are and how large your penis is, too?

Here's the thing; it's perfectly reasonable for "Joe" in the above example to skim the intro to FIP and think "dude, I really don't need this deep dive #### to enjoy a baseball game."
   8. Spectral Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4386796)
Because everyone you disagree with is an idiot,

That's not implied in what I wrote. People that refuse to understand concepts, but are angered by them are, however, idiots.

no one you agree with would ever be short sighted, ill tempered or intellectually ungenerous

That's not implied in what I wrote. Many people that I agree with about specific issues are all of the above.

Here's the thing; it's perfectly reasonable for "Joe" in the above example to skim the intro to FIP and think "dude, I really don't need this deep dive #### to enjoy a baseball game."

This is not fundamentally equivalent to Reaction B. The reaction you're showing is that of someone that doesn't care one way or the other about FIP, but likes baseball. Reaction B is that of someone who's angered by the idea that someone else would drill down deeper than they cared to. I would have thought Reaction B was all but non-existent until I started reading impassioned Facebook comments from people that were positively furious that people thought Mike Trout should win MVP just because of a "stupid stat". Sure, there was some unjustifiably rude and condescending response from the pro-Trout people, but they weren't fundamentally ignorant of what the debate even was.
   9. AROM Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:27 AM (#4386797)
Joe’s brain reacts by telling him to write a poorly punctuated and improperly capitalized email telling David Murphy to go bleep himself and that we need to go back to the days where pitchers were judged on the things that actually matter, like striking batters out and limiting runs and walks.


You give camp B too much credit. None of those things matter. Everything you need to know about a pitcher is summed up by his won-lost record.
   10. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4386806)
Jack Morris had an excellent PTTS
   11. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4386809)
Reaction B is that of someone who's angered by the idea that someone else would drill down deeper than they cared to.


"Reaction B" is 1) a cartoon of what stat-dork Q thinks "Joe" might be thinking, and 2) a response of "someone who's angered by the idea that someone else would drill 'down deeper' than they cared to and then have the gaul to lecture the rest of the class on how they're too stupid and ignorant to understand the 'deep stuff' and really get how much Mike Trout was totally cooler than Miggy Cabrera."

The fact that you think FIP fans "drill down deeper" rather than looking at it at another angle gives you away.
   12. Spectral Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4386811)
That you're willing to insist that FIP and Win-Loss are just different angles gives you away. Really, this is a stupid argument. As I said initially, this is just false equivalence for the sake of pseudointellectual wankery.
   13. JJ1986 Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4386816)
I think the article is missing a Reaction C that

1. Dave reads the word “FIP” in a story about Jonathan Papelbon’s performance.
2. Dave’s eyes feed the term “FIP” to his brain.
3. Dave’s brain processes “FIP” as a pitching stat that analysts use; he doesn't really how it's derived.
4. Dave’s brain reacts with a judgment about Jonathan Papelbon’s ability to prevent runs, even though that's not quite what FIP is.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4386822)
Like others have pointed out, its not the words that matter. ERA and RBI are not elegant words that quickly convey meaning. Or if they do, its because those terms have been ingrained in us for generations. The same is happening for FIP and WAR whether old school sportswriters like it or not. These terms are becoming more mainstream, and the people that have a vociferous backlash against them will die out before too long.
   15. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4386824)
"Reaction B" is 1) a cartoon of what stat-dork Q thinks "Joe" might be thinking


"Joe" may just be a theoretical construct, but there are lots and lots of people who genuinely do think that way. I run into them all the time.

If people would rather just watch a game, instead of making deep analyses of performance, that's fine. But that doesn't excuse overt hostility toward people who are interested in that stuff. It's part of a disturbing strain of anti-intellectualism that's cropped up in American culture at some point over the last ten-or-so years, on a par with Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine brigade and the "teach the controversy" creationists.
   16. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4386826)
List 1        List 2           List 3
Headley       Braun            Posey
Braun         McCutchen        McCutchen
Soriano       Posey            Braun
A Ramirez     Headley          Votto
Pence         Votto            Headley
Posey         Stanton          Cabrera
Holliday      Cabrera          Stanton
LaRoche       Goldschmidt      Holliday
Bruce         Holliday         Wright
Beltran       A Ramirez        A Ramirez
One of these lists is last season's top ten National League players by by WPA/LI (another measure towards which there is a great degree of saberist scepticism), one by BB-ref Rbat and the third by RBI.

The thing is, having WPA/LI or Rbat widely available required computers. As the lists illustrate, RBI is an imperfect, but not useless, measure of player value, and one easily calculated in a day of pencils and adding machines. In those days, one needed to look as well at hits, runs, slugging percentage, etc to get one's rankings of good players.
   17. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4386827)
It's part of a disturbing strain of anti-intellectualism that's cropped up in American culture at some point over the last ten-or-so years...

It is way older than that:
In the USA there was, apparently, an erosion of public appreciation of science in the early 1970s. Polls during the 1950s and 1960s showed buoyant support for science, mainly on account of its ability to achieve desirable goals rather than for its inherent interest. The subsequent drift in support was, however, parallelled by loss of confidence in public institutions generally... By the late 1970s scientific research seen as increasing individuals' control over their own destiny was welcomed, but research that might decrease personal control was not. There was a strong preference for applied over more fundamental research. In 1976 only 9% of the general public saw fundamental research as a priority for science and technology expenditure (down from 21% in 1974 and 19% in 1972).
That is from an extremely influential report by the Royal Society entitled 'The Public Understanding of Science', which led to a concerted campaign to ensure that what the Joes of Britain thought about science was at least well-informed.
   18. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4386831)
There Is No Such Thin.....bahh!


"There Is No Such Species..." works.
   19. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4386833)
double post, the fault of demons, no doubt
   20. AROM Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4386839)
"Reaction B" is 1) a cartoon of what stat-dork Q thinks "Joe" might be thinking


No, Reaction B is overly generous hypothetical to what the anti-stat people think. If they actually paid attention to run prevention, strikeouts, and walks, they would give a lot more HOF support to Curt Schilling and Kevin Brown instead of focusing on Jack Morris. If they got the concept, I think most of us could care less if they like the vocabulary of FIP. It's not a cartoon at all, as numerous examples of this species can be easily found.

Unless you think Murray Chass is a cartoon instead of an actual person.
   21. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4386890)
4. Primate’s brain reacts with a judgement that Ryan Howard's RBI total is virtually meaningless in trying to evaluate his actual performance..

This actually isn't close to true, but that aside, the idea that fans should strive and spend time seeking to measure "actual performance" is unproven and little more than an assumption.

In other words, simply saying that RBI doesn't measure "actual performance" -- again not true, but assumed arguendo -- does not itself intellectually damage the measurement and description contained within RBI.

The fact that you think FIP fans "drill down deeper" rather than looking at it at another angle gives you away.

FIP actually drills less deep, reducing pitching to walks, strikeouts, and homeruns when it's plainly far more. As the BB Pro annuals note, FIP is to not-insignificant degree, really measuring "pitching-independent pitching."
   22. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4386892)
If people would rather just watch a game, instead of making deep analyses of performance, that's fine. But that doesn't excuse overt hostility toward people who are interested in that stuff.


"Overt hostility" is driven by 1) sportswriters who are worried that they're being edged out of a job, and 2) casual fans who tire of being lectured by the "deep dive" crowd who just want to be recognized for being educated and cultured enough not to be "anti-intellectual" like the common pig-#######.

   23. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4386901)
According to the Don Martin Sound Effect Dictionary, FIP-FIP is the sound of a "cow's udder moving." This is not to be confused with FIP FOP FIDDIT FAP, which is a survival raft inflating.

Indeed, that is an excellent link.
However, it does not include my all-time favorite Don Martin sound effect:

SQUEEBEEDEEBEEDAP!

(the sound of stepping on a plank with five cockroaches underneath it)
   24. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4386902)
If one just looked at the headline and read TFE without noticing it came from BPro, one could be forgiven for thinking this was just another anti-advanced stat rant.
   25. Gonfalon B. Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4386903)
SQUEEBEEDEEBEEDAP!
Exchanging glances
SQUEEBEEDEEBEEDAP!
What were the chances
We'd be sharing love before the night was through?
   26. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4386904)
No, Reaction B is overly generous hypothetical to what the anti-stat people think. If they actually paid attention to run prevention, strikeouts, and walks, they would give a lot more HOF support to Curt Schilling and Kevin Brown instead of focusing on Jack Morris. If they got the concept, I think most of us could care less if they like the vocabulary of FIP. It's not a cartoon at all, as numerous examples of this species can be easily found.

No. The reason the "stat-dorks" don't want people talking about things like RBIs, reduced to its essence, is that they believe those people will "misuse" the number and cause other people to misuse the number. Why do they think that? Because they think everyone is stupider than they are. They truly believe that none other than themselves can know both a traditional piece of baseball data and the contradictions and limitations embedded in that data.

The irony is that they're blind to the contradictions and limitations embedded in their pet numbers.
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4386914)
Why do they think that? Because they think everyone is stupider than they are. They truly believe that none other than themselves can know both a traditional piece of baseball data and the contradictions and limitations embedded in that data.


Come on, this is just blatantly not true. What they think, if "they" can be so monolithic, is not that *none* other than themselves can understand. They realize, from a wealth of empirical data, that there are couple of metric shittons of people out there who don't understand and aggressively, in some cases evangelically, reject any step toward understanding.
   28. vivaelpujols Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4386921)
Most reputable articles follow any reference to FIP or other acronyms with a definition or a link to an article explaining it. So this article is mostly arguing against a strawman. Secondly, how would the author suggest fixing this problem? Should we say "according this concept (but not a specific word or calculation because those are bad) which only looks at strikeouts, walks and home runs.."? The only way a metric gains larger acceptances is if it's referenced repeatedly and becomes familiar. WAR is regularly quoted on MLB Network now. You'd sound like an idiot if you tried to work around ERA, there's a reason we have the acronyms.

Dumb article.
   29. vivaelpujols Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4386923)
Come on, this is just blatantly not true. What they think, if "they" can be so monolithic, is not that *none* other than themselves can understand. They realize, from a wealth of empirical data, that there are couple of metric shittons of people out there who don't understand and aggressively, in some cases evangelically, reject any step toward understanding.


Shocking. SBB makes inflammatory and untrue statement.
   30. The District Attorney Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4386928)
SQUEEBEEDEEBEEDAP!
Exchanging glances
SQUEEBEEDEEBEEDAP!
What were the chances
We'd be sharing love before the night was through?
Had no idea Skrillex posted here.
   31. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4386932)
Come on, this is just blatantly not true. What they think, if "they" can be so monolithic, is not that *none* other than themselves can understand. They realize, from a wealth of empirical data, that there are couple of metric shittons of people out there who don't understand and aggressively, in some cases evangelically, reject any step toward understanding.


1. The "if 'they' can be so monolithic" hedge is precious coming as it does in the preface to a broadside against "metric shittons of people" who "aggressively", nay even "evangelically, reject any step toward understanding." It's so cute when you boys do that sort of ####.

2. You assume that people who aggressively push back against FIP or WAR or whatever the quantum derivation du jour might be by definition don't "understand." Because they're stupid.
   32. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4386933)
Because they're stupid.


BTAS!

quantum derivation du jour


QDDJ!
   33. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4386934)
Come on, this is just blatantly not true.

It's entirely true, as demonstrated by the rest of your post presuming possession of a level of "understanding" others are not adequately striving to obtain.

Saber types tend to be iconoclasts (*) who tend to be uncomfortable with the contradictions in life. Rewards aren't always bestowed on those that earn them, or who are "responsible" for good things. Nor is reputation. We all know that reputation and rewards often accrue to an undeserving person who lucks into an opportunity that a bunch of other people could have done the same or more with. In fact, economic and organizational life is so complex that useful things are almost never accomplished by single individuals.

They're compensating for that by striving (to the point of bursting veins) to reduce baseball to an endeavor in which those contradictions of life are abolished (**), and that's the primary reason we see the bile reserved for things like RBIs and why we constantly hear things like, "b-b-b-b-b-but Ryan Howard isn't responsible for that run, why is he getting credit." The sabermetric striving to strip out everything for which a player isn't completely "responsible," and to credit him entirely for those things he is responsible for, is properly seen not as a quest for understanding, but as more of a Tao of life.

And thus, when a hapless sportswriter takes note of a player's RBI's or a pitcher's wins, he isn't merely misunderstanding baseball -- he's misunderstanding life. A simple misunderstanding of baseball could never unleash the bilious response the mainstream sportswriter gets around here.

(*) Not that there's anything wrong with that; indeed, there's a lot right with it.

(**) Not that there's anything wrong with that, either. Baseball is supposed to be an escape from daily life, but that escape can be found in a myriad of ways.
   34. Squash Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4386956)
So are we still in the backlash against the backlash against the backlash age of saber stats, or have we now officially moved into the backlash against the backlash against the backlash against backlash stage? It's hard to keep up.
   35. AROM Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4386963)
They're compensating for that by striving (to the point of bursting veins) to reduce baseball to an endeavor in which those contradictions of life are abolished (**), and that's the primary reason we see the bile reserved for things like RBIs and why we constantly hear things like, "b-b-b-b-b-but Ryan Howard isn't responsible for that run, why is he getting credit." The sabermetric striving to strip out everything for which a player isn't completely "responsible," and to credit him entirely for those things he is responsible for, is properly seen not as a quest for understanding, but as more of a Tao of life.


Bursting veins? Do you actually interact with statguys to the point where you can make this diagnosis? Or is this pure projection?

I can't speak for anyone else, but it doesn't bother me one bit if you want to talk about Ryan Howard's RBI. RBI are merely facts. They might be interesting for their own sake. They can be cool (hey, I thought Don Mattingly getting 145 was cool, and Manny Ramirez getting 165 was cool. Both were levels not seen for a long time). You only lose me when you try and turn RBI into a value metric, like trying to tell me Howard was/is as good or better than guys like Pujols, Fielder, Gonzalez, and Votto.
   36. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4386965)
Do you actually interact with statguys to the point where you can make this diagnosis? Or is this pure projection?


Do you apply this same criteria to non-statguys? That is to say, do you interact with any of them outside of internet flame wars?
   37. Spectral Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4386969)
Do you apply this same criteria to non-statguys? That is to say, do you interact with any of them outside of internet flame wars?

Yes, the buddy that I occasionally occasionally go to Nats games with is a non-stat guy. He probably follows baseball closer than I do, really, but he's just not a numbers guy at all. I don't really find that problematic, I sure don't think he's "stupid", and I don't think he has any particular problem with stat nerds.

The vitriol is mostly an online thing in general though, isn't it? Two people arguing about the MVP over beers and pool are almost never actually angry at each other, in my experience.
   38. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4386978)
The vitriol is mostly an online thing in general though, isn't it?


Yeah, it is. But it's one of those things where both sides pretend the other side is made up of completely impossible concepts and ideas and must be morally lacking to believe such falsities. The bottom line is that a lot of stat nerds got butthurt over the fact that their 19 year old super-fave didn't win the MVP last year and are out to yell down the heavens because of it.
   39. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4386981)
You only lose me when you try and turn RBI into a value metric, like trying to tell me Howard was/is as good or better than guys like Pujols, Fielder, Gonzalez, and Votto.

RBI is a 'value metric'. It captures some of a player's value to his team in the past. Those runs counted, and some of them won games. It is useless for telling whether said player will be just as valuable in the future.
   40. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4386988)
Do you actually interact with statguys to the point where you can make this diagnosis? Or is this pure projection?

Huh? I've been reading and participating on these boards for years and first read Bill James starting 30 years ago.

You only lose me when you try and turn RBI into a value metric

It is a value metric, albeit an imperfect one. The runs a player drives in helps his team win games. How is that even debatable?

To some degree, RBIs are a function of opportunity, but so what? (See post 33.)
   41. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4386992)
The vitriol is mostly an online thing in general though, isn't it? Two people arguing about the MVP over beers and pool are almost never actually angry at each other, in my experience.

On that note, I never actually like quote stats in conversations or something. It's much easier/simpler to say "great fielder" or "great at taking walks" and that way you aren't an ass. Honestly, all stat people might be evil or something, but I know that I personally try very hard not to sound like I know everything.*

*since it's very clear I know very little about anything.
   42. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4386993)
RBI is a 'value metric'. It captures some of a player's value to his team in the past. Those runs counted, and some of them won games. It is useless for telling whether said player will be just as valuable in the future.

Typically, the value was mostly created by guys who didn't get an RBI.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4386996)
Someone who treats RBI as the ultimate value metric and categorically rejects/denigrates more advanced metrics has a lesser understanding of baseball than someone who understands *and properly contextualizes* advanced metrics *and does the same for basic metrics.* This statement is not arrogance on the part of statheads, it is fact. Just like someone who knows only algebra and writes screeds against calculus has a lesser understanding of math. That does not make them "stupid" in the general sense, and I have not implied that they are, but an aggressive resistance to new, more accurate information is a questionable approach to thinking.

There are a lot of people out there who fit the former description, and go even further by actively trying to convince others to reject and mock advanced metrics. That is also fact. Acknowledgement of both of these facts does not make statheads arrogant.
   44. Ron J2 Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4386998)
RBI is a 'value metric'. It captures some of a player's value to his team in the past.


It's only a value metric if you remove the part that the player had no control over. There might actually be some value in knowing the number of rbi a player drove in over and above what you'd expect given his power (the actual value part) and opportunity.

I say might, because I've actually checked this Joe Carter really did drive in more runs than you'd expect (at least according to my simplistic rbi estimator. No idea how he does on Tom Ruane's -- which deals with actual baserunner distribution). Thing is that his teams didn't tend to score more runs than you'd expect given their counter stats.

I believe it was Arne Olsen who posted a study about "rbi vultures" in rsb. He found that it was generally true that the teams with guys like Carter (low walks, strong offensive point being ISO) do not tend to score more runs than you'd expect given the team's counter stats.
   45. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4387001)
Typically, the value was mostly created by guys who didn't get an RBI.


What value?

And so what, anyway? The guys who didn't get an RBI didn't qualify to get an RBI.
   46. Spectral Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4387003)
On that note, I never actually like quote stats in conversations or something. It's much easier/simpler to say "great fielder" or "great at taking walks" and that way you aren't an ass. Honestly, all stat people might be evil or something, but I know that I personally try very hard not to sound like I know everything.


I find myself adjusting for audience. I know a lot of stats off the top of my head, or at least know something reasonably close to the exact stats. Some people find that infuriating, some find it helpful, I just need to know which sort of person I'm talking to. For the friends I have that relate to things numerically, they're going to think I'm just talking out my ass if I don't give at least rough numbers.
   47. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4387006)
Typically, the value was mostly created by guys who didn't get an RBI.


How so?
   48. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4387007)
There are a lot of people out there who fit the former description, and go even further by actively trying to convince others to reject and mock advanced metrics.

This is very irritating. Personally, I find arguing useless...but that's true for anyone who believes very strongly about something I disagree with. Often I don't find it worth the effort to engage. Pointless yelling never accomplished anything, whether it's about UZR or the Gaza Strip. Maybe that's just a personal thing.

I am surprised to know that apparently I'm an insufferable know-it-all and "butthurt" (aside: ever noticed how many terms males use to insult males originate in homosexual activity?) or think everyone is stupider than me or whatever.
   49. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4387009)
For the friends I have that relate to things numerically, they're going to think I'm just talking out my ass if I don't give at least rough numbers.

I find I don't really have that problem, since everyone sort of assumes I *could* back it up if I really wanted to (and searching things on B-Ref in a pub or wherever is fairly dumb). Besides, it's a little more fun to discuss a little more in the abstract, I find.
   50. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4387014)
Typically, the value was mostly created by guys who didn't get an RBI.

What value?

You know, the value as described in the excerpt I was replying to, and quoted in my post:
RBI is a 'value metric'. It captures some of a player's value to his team in the past. Those runs counted, and some of them won games. It is useless for telling whether said player will be just as valuable in the future.

You know, that value.

Typically, the value was mostly created by guys who didn't get an RBI.

How so?

By getting on base. Getting into scoring position. Running the bases well. Advancing other baserunners. You know, all those things that contribute to a run scored other than driving in the runner.

Sam, you should really change your handle to 'Ricky is entering his Bill James phase' or something. I can't remember the last time you made a post that wasn't being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.
   51. Greg K Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4387016)
I find I don't really have that problem, since everyone sort of assumes I *could* back it up if I really wanted to (and searching things on B-Ref in a pub or wherever is fairly dumb). Besides, it's a little more fun to discuss a little more in the abstract, I find.

Take for instance the question, "Who is the best 3B in baseball right now?" The ensuing conversation has a lot to do with where it is happening. On the internet you'd expect a bunch of stats to be cited, maybe some tables, projections thrown about.

At the local pub, the same question is really just an opening to "let's talk about third basemen for the next little while". Names are bandied about, virtues and flaws of each discussed...no one's really expecting a final definitive answer.
   52. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4387018)
At the local pub, the same question is really just an opening to "let's talk about third basemen for the next little while". Names are bandied about, virtues and flaws of each discussed...no one's really expecting a final definitive answer.

Exactly, and something like "well, I just love Chase Headley" after a bit of discussion is sort of okay (though your friends will probably make fun of you for a while). I struggle to imagine someone on the internet being okay with "man, I can't stand Adrian Beltre's dumb face at all" as a reason for him being "bad" (whereas, with friends, it would be one of those recurring things everyone knows).

Basically, I think that it's a lot more nuanced than "statheads are arrogant and hate the mainstream", because it's all about where/with whom you're interacting.
   53. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4387020)
(aside: ever noticed how many terms males use to insult males originate in homosexual activity?)


Dude, stop being such a c*cksucker.
   54. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4387022)
You know, the value as described in the excerpt I was replying to, and quoted in my post:
RBI is a 'value metric'. It captures some of a player's value to his team in the past. Those runs counted, and some of them won games. It is useless for telling whether said player will be just as valuable in the future.
You know, that value.


Except they didn't. The "value" is far more binary than you're comfortable admitting, and that's a temperamental and philsophical pose more than anything else. (See post 33). If a guy gets a single and doesn't score a run, he didn't create any value. Put another way, the guys on base need the indispensible event caused by the guy who gets credit for the RBI for their getting on base to mean anything of "value." (Which isn't of course to say that we shouldn't measure what they did outside of scoring runs, or that there might not be some miniscule residual effects from making the pitcher pitch from the stretch or use pitches.)

RBIs measure events indispensible to scoring runs and runs are the measurement by which games are won.
   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4387023)
If a guy gets a single and doesn't score a run, he didn't create any value.


You must really hate soccer.
   56. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4387026)
Put another way, the guys on base need the indispensible event caused by the guy who gets credit for the RBI for their getting on base to mean anything of "value." (Which isn't of course to say that we shouldn't measure what they did outside of scoring runs, or that there might not be some miniscule residual effects from making the pitcher pitch from the stretch or use pitches.)


There is also the value of moving up someone already on base, if that guy scores. E.G. an inning of K, Single, Single (runner to 3rd), Sac Fly, K. 3 guys helped score that run.
   57. JJ1986 Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4387029)
the guys on base need the indispensible event caused by the guy who gets credit for the RBI for their getting on base to mean anything of "value."


Unless they score in one of the number of ways where no one gets an RBI.
   58. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4387041)
the guys on base need the indispensible event caused by the guy who gets credit for the RBI for their getting on base to mean anything of "value."

And without them getting on base, there is no RBI to take credit for. And if a batter does not manage to get an RBI, there is often still a chance that the next guy will get it. As far as indispensable events go, getting on base is far more indispensable for creating the run than the RBI was.
   59. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4387042)
[RBI] is only a value metric if you remove the part that the player had no control over.

Yes, there are problems with RBI as a statistic. But saberists overstate its shortcomings. A list of a season's RBI leaders is a list of good hitters.

Also, removing the part that the player has no control over to my mind is trying to pretend that baseball isn't a team game. On a team, some of the value a player adds is going to be dependent on the achievements of his team-mates.
   60. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4387045)
By getting on base. Getting into scoring position. Running the bases well. Advancing other baserunners. You know, all those things that contribute to a run scored other than driving in the runner.


Did you just sing the praises of productive outs? Getting on base and running the bases well isn't inherently more valuable than driving the runner in. Driving the runner in - advancing the baserunner all the way home - is really, really valuable. Because it scores a run. Which is how the game is won. A sac fly is more valuable than a 3-3 day with two doubles but no runs scored.

Sam, you should really change your handle to 'Ricky is entering his Bill James phase' or something. I can't remember the last time you made a post that wasn't being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.


I assume you mean in the WAR/FIP/stat war threads. Like may second gen feminists, I find the third gen to be overly full of itself.
   61. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4387052)
A sac fly is more valuable than a 3-3 day with two doubles but no runs scored.


What if those 3 doubles drove runs in and/or moved people to 3rd who subsequently scored?
   62. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4387053)
A list of a season's RBI leaders is a list of good hitters.


Just to be annoying: so is a list of a season's strikeout and GIDP leaders.
   63. cmd600 Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4387054)
What if those 3 doubles drove runs in and/or moved people to 3rd who subsequently scored?


And led to the pitcher throwing more pitches to you, and the guys behind you because he had to be more careful, leading to a quicker exit?
   64. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4387055)
Did you just sing the praises of productive outs?

Singing the praises is an overly strong description of what I said. I didn't say anything about how much value each of those parts should be credited with, just that they are each greater than zero, so crediting all of it to the guy who got the RBI makes no sense.

And yes, on average the guy who got the RBI probably deserves more credit than the guy who made a productive out (although I never said he had to make an out, you can move a runner over just fine without giving up an out). But by far the biggest chunk goes to the guy who got on base.

A sac fly is more valuable than a 3-3 day with two doubles but no runs scored.

And a flyout to LF with nobody on base is worth even less than that.

Also, removing the part that the player has no control over to my mind is trying to pretend that baseball isn't a team game.

If you want to count RBI's on a team level, knock yourself out. Although I don't really see what that adds beyond simple runs scored. As an individual player statistic, it adds virtually nothing, and is misused so frequently, that it is actively harmful.
   65. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4387056)
I assume you mean in the WAR/FIP/stat war threads. Like may second gen feminists, I find the third gen to be overly full of itself.

Only if you extend WAR to the kind discussed in political threads. Also, glass house and stones, regarding being overly full of oneself.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4387060)
Man, who pissed in the BBTF wheaties this morning? Worst thread ever.

By the way, Manny's 165 RBI came in 1999, a whole year after Sosa's 158 so I don't know I'd say that was a number we hadn't seen in a while.
   67. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4387062)
I give SBB plenty of grief in various threads, but I really liked post 33. His point was logically and clearly articulated and I agree with huge portions of it (though I am not 100% on board with the premise).

Overall I think there is plenty of blame (and praise) on both sides of the debate and as stated upthread context matters a bunch.
   68. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4387068)
By the way, Manny's 165 RBI came in 1999, a whole year after Sosa's 158 so I don't know I'd say that was a number we hadn't seen in a while.


This reminds of a little pet peeve of mine: when people say things like "Bob Welch's 27 wins were the most since Steve Stone won 25 in 1980"
   69. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4387107)
If you want to count RBI's on a team level, knock yourself out. Although I don't really see what that adds beyond simple runs scored. As an individual player statistic, it adds virtually nothing, and is misused so frequently, that it is actively harmful.

When you put it that way, there really is no room for discussion.
   70. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4387110)
When you put it that way, there really is no room for discussion.

Well, you are welcome to try and make a case that I am wrong.
   71. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4387122)
What if those 3 doubles drove runs in and/or moved people to 3rd who subsequently scored?


Point taken. I was less than precise. 3/3 with 3 doubles that drove in no runs and scored no runs, advancing no runners. In general terms, you want the kind of guys who can go 3/3 with 3 doubles on your team. If that is his true level of production, he's going to score and drive in runs more often than he goes empty for those days. But on that given day, when he goes 3/3 with 3 doubles but scores none, drives none in and contributes no runners advanced (that later scored), he's less valuable than a guy that pinch hit in the 8th and lofted a shallow fly ball to a weak armed CF, scoring a runner from third on the sacrifice. Because real runs are more valuable than potential, theoretical runs. And the real run on the board is more important than working the pitcher's pitch count, etc. Runs win baseball games, not potential runs.
   72. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4387125)
Only if you extend WAR to the kind discussed in political threads.


Contrarianism is the straw that stirs the drink in political conversations. Also, 90% of the posters in those threads are wrong 95% of the time. Fish in barrels, really.

Also, glass house and stones, regarding being overly full of oneself.


In this regard, I've lived outdoors for years.
   73. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4387129)
Well, you are welcome to try and make a case that I am wrong.

To do that, I would have to disprove to you that the misuse of RBI is so frequent as to be actively harmful, even before I did anything else. No thank you, that's a labour of love and I don't love you or RBI that much.
   74. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4387139)
But on that given day, when he goes 3/3 with 3 doubles but scores none, drives none in and contributes no runners advanced (that later scored), he's less valuable than a guy that pinch hit in the 8th and lofted a shallow fly ball to a weak armed CF, scoring a runner from third on the sacrifice. Because real runs are more valuable than potential, theoretical runs. And the real run on the board is more important than working the pitcher's pitch count, etc. Runs win baseball games, not potential runs.


If you follow this thinking than you simply end up with "count da ringz." Because if getting on base only has value if you score an actual run, then the actual run only has value if you win the game (a 5-0 loss is the same as a 5-4 loss in the standings), and the win only has actual value if you make the playoffs, and production in the playoffs only has value if scores actual runs in actual wins in series that your team wins; and thus, the only value produced was by members of the championship team and all other players in the league were equally valuable at zero. Therefore, count da ringz.

If I have gold in my house it is valuable whether or not I sell it, because I could sell it. A man on base is valuable because he could be driven in.
   75. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4387145)
if getting on base only has value if you score an actual run, then the actual run only has value if you win the game (a 5-0 loss is the same as a 5-4 loss in the standings)


Yes. The rest is wrong, only insofar as the playoffs are not strategically (historically) the purpose of the season. (The pennant is/was.)

But yes, the run only has value if it scores,and a 5-0 win counts just as much as a 5-4 win (or loss.) There are no tie-breakers based on run-expectancy charts.
   76. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4387151)
Yes. The rest is wrong, only insofar as the playoffs are not strategically (historically) the purpose of the season. (The pennant is/was.)

But yes, the run only has value if it scores,and a 5-0 win counts just as much as a 5-4 win (or loss.) There are no tie-breakers based on run-expectancy charts.


Ok, your leader-board for "value" for NL players in 1967 would be a bunch of Cardinals, followed by hundreds of players tied at zero?

If you spend $5 on a sandwich but drop it down the sewer before you eat it, did that $5 have no value?
   77. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4387160)
Also, 90% of the posters in those threads are wrong 95% of the time. Fish in barrels, really.


Er, weren't you just chastising people for allegedly thinking they're smarter than everyone else?
   78. BDC Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4387177)
on that given day {…} he's less valuable

This would seem to turn into a quibble on the meaning of "valuable," at this point. Everyone acknowledges in postgame interviews that the player who went 0 0 0 1 (while his superstar teammate went 3 0 3 0) "kept scrapping and did the little things today." But they're still little things.
   79. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:56 PM (#4387184)
Ok, your leader-board for "value" for NL players in 1967 would be a bunch of Cardinals, followed by hundreds of players tied at zero?

That's a little harsh, but you've just stated the fundamental reason Most Valuable Player awards have tended to go to players on division or pennant winning teams. A lot of what happens in baseball games does, in fact, turn out to have very little real "value." Some games are, in fact, more important than others, and going 4-4 in a desultory Tuesday night loss in September when your team's 30 GB and the other team's 20 GB doesn't really add any value at all. (Maybe it does in a philosophical sense -- dedication to craft, persistence in the fact of adversity, and all the rest, but not in a baseball sense.)

The blithe assumption that contribution to theoretical runs "created" is the true measure of value is simply not accurate. It's an assumption.
   80. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4387194)
Ok, your leader-board for "value" for NL players in 1967 would be a bunch of Cardinals, followed by hundreds of players tied at zero?


Not really. Because I don't have a leader-board for value for NL players in 1967. I mean, who the hell does that sort of ####?! The Cards won the pennant in 1967. (I guess they did, from your example. I'd have to look it up. Did they?) That is all. The Braves won the World Series in 1995. I don't have a list of "most valuable players from 1995." I have a memory of Dave Justice going deep in Game 6 and Marquis Grissom tracking down the 27th out. The concept of a historical leader board is foreign to me.

If you spend $5 on a sandwich but drop it down the sewer before you eat it, did that $5 have no value?


Nope. Sunk costs are sunk.
   81. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4387196)
Er, weren't you just chastising people for allegedly thinking they're smarter than everyone else?


Somewhat. More precisely I was snarkily lecturing people on why other people hate them. Casual fans don't hate stat nerds because you're smarter than they are. They hate you because you're arrogant twits. Whether or not I am an arrogant twit myself has no relation to the question.
   82. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4387205)
Also, 90% of the posters in those threads are wrong 95% of the time. Fish in barrels, really.

Nobody thinks of themselves as part of the 90%, but chances are that you are.
   83. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4387221)
That's a little harsh, but you've just stated the fundamental reason Most Valuable Player awards have tended to go to players on division or pennant winning teams. A lot of what happens in baseball games does, in fact, turn out to have very little real "value."


Only if you use a different definition of "value" than the fairly explicit definition outlined in the voting guidelines for the MVP award, i.e. "strength of offense and defense".

This is a terrible thread, and I already regret posting in it, even before I hit the submit button.
   84. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4387226)
This is a terrible thread, and I already regret posting in it, even before I hit the submit button.


What threads are properly valuable? Do they have a high ThrWAR or something? Good lord. If you don't like the thread, go to another one.
   85. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4387227)
That's a little harsh


well do you believe it or not?
   86. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:48 PM (#4387234)
Not really. .... The concept of a historical leader board is foreign to me.


If you can assign value for within one game, why can't you do it for the whole season?

If you spend $5 on a sandwich but drop it down the sewer before you eat it, did that $5 have no value?




Nope. Sunk costs are sunk.


The same thing goes for a leadoff single. What happens after that doesn't affect the value of that particular single. What happens afterward affects its meaning in a narrative sense, and affects what happens to the team as a whole, but that particular single is over and done - its properties can't change. A leadoff single doesn't produce a run, it only gives you a better chance to score a run or multiple runs. If the team doesn't drive the runner home, it doesn't mean that the single had no value - just like if you drop the sandwich down the sewer it doesn't mean that the $5 didn't have value.

   87. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:53 PM (#4387236)
What threads are properly valuable?


Very few. This one, though, has negative value, in that the universe is actually a worse place simply because it exists.

If you don't like the thread, go to another one.


Probably the best thing said in this thread. I'll do that now.
   88. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 07:33 PM (#4387254)
If you can assign value for within one game, why can't you do it for the whole season?


We do. We call them "wins" and they're the only real currency of the game.
   89. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4387259)
The same thing goes for a leadoff single. What happens after that doesn't affect the value of that particular single.

But the single changes the value of subsequent events, like another single. So RBI offer some measure of the value of some of those events. Possibly not the best measure, and possibly not of equal value to Runs. But, then, how do we divide the value of a BIP out between the pitcher and the fielders? At the moment there could be several players each getting an Assist on the play, plus the Putout, while the pitcher gets nothing. Now, we actually think there is some value to Assists and Putouts, because we use them in fielding systems. One probably could do something similar with RBI in the context of a team hitting system, but sabermetrics has gone in a different direction, and given us WPA/LI, which doesn't need the RBI. So now RBI gets dismissed, and the information it does provide is found elsewhere.
   90. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4387262)
We do. We call them "wins" and they're the only real currency of the game.

No, no. Rings are the only real currency of the game. You won't to arbitrarily define wins as the endpoint, only because that's what suits you.
   91. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:01 PM (#4387271)
We do. We call them "wins" and they're the only real currency of the game.


For individual position players and for individual events within a game? in #60 and #71 you had no problem with assigning value that way, why not add it up for the whole season?
   92. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4387273)
But the single changes the value of subsequent events, like another single.


Yes, but without a time machine the subsequent events don't change the value of the single.
   93. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:07 PM (#4387277)
No, no. Rings are the only real currency of the game. You won't to arbitrarily define wins as the endpoint, only because that's what suits you.


I'm aesthetically aligned to the traditionalist notion of long seasons and pennant chases, yes. But that's okay. You're not wrong, per se.

You don't have to do calculus in your head to chase down a fly ball.
   94. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4387279)
Yes, but without a time machine the subsequent events don't change the value of the single.


Well there's your error, chief. Subsequent events absolutely change the value of previous events. It's called history, and until such point as we do not live in a linear, progressive timeline your desire to interpret Newtonian events via quantum theory is just daft.
   95. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4387283)
If only real runs, not theoretical runs, have value then a leadoff single never has value because (barring a 3 base error) it never produces a real run. It's always the subsequent plays that produce the real run. Once the pitcher has the ball and the next batter steps in, the leadoff single is over and complete and its properties don't change.


I'm aesthetically aligned to the traditionalist notion of long seasons and pennant chases, yes.


So then we're back to you thinking that only plays by the first place team in wins for the first place team had any value.

Subsequent events absolutely change the value of previous events.


So the $5 bill never had value because you only ended up with a hypothetical sandwich, not a real one?
   96. fra paolo Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:25 PM (#4387285)
Yes, but without a time machine the subsequent events don't change the value of the single.

No, I wouldn't dispute that.

I'm suggesting that for every given run, its value needs to be assigned among those players who contributed towards it. So the batter who drives in the run accumulates some of that value, which was traditionally tallied by RBI. If we dismiss RBI outright, we're discarding some a player's value to his team. It might not be a 50-50 split between the baserunner and the man who drove him in, but I don't think it's 99-1 either.
   97. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4387288)
If only real runs, not theoretical runs, have value then a leadoff single never has value because (barring a 3 base error) it never produces a real run. It's always the subsequent plays that produce the real run.


Exactly. If a guy hits a leadoff single but doesn't score, the single has no real value (*) and "creates" nothing. It's, of course, not his "fault" that he didn't score an actual run, but that's neither here nor there.

Now, that doesn't mean we don't want to keep track of how many hits a player gets, whether or not they lead to runs -- which is why God(s) created "hits" and "batting average."

So then we're back to you thinking that only plays by the first place team in wins for the first place team had any value.

Or it means that the term can be defined so narrowly that it really doesn't work conceptually. Which brings us back to real runs and real wins as the appropriate storehouses and carriers of baseball meaning.

(*) In the sense that the term is used sabermetrically. It may, naturally, have aesthetic or entertainment value.
   98. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4387291)
So the $5 bill never had value because you only ended up with a hypothetical sandwich, not a real one?

It had unrealized value, eventually lost. Just like the stranded leadoff single.
   99. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:36 PM (#4387298)
Exactly. If a guy hits a leadoff single but doesn't score, the single has no real value


Not just that, but if he hits a leadoff single and does score, the single has no real value under your system, because it never produces a real run. Leadoff singles only produce hypothetical runs. They don't change the scoreboard. If the runner scores, it's never the leadoff single doing it: it is separate and distinct events.

So the $5 bill never had value because you only ended up with a hypothetical sandwich, not a real one?

It had unrealized value, eventually lost. Just like the stranded leadoff single.


unrealized value is value - in this case $5

   100. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4387301)
No, I wouldn't dispute that.

I'm suggesting that for every given run, its value needs to be assigned among those players who contributed towards it. So the batter who drives in the run accumulates some of that value, which was traditionally tallied by RBI. If we dismiss RBI outright, we're discarding some a player's value to his team. It might not be a 50-50 split between the baserunner and the man who drove him in, but I don't think it's 99-1 either.

This is of course basically what WPA does at the wins level, rather than runs level. Doing a linear weights equivalent for runs is trivial, and will distribute the value according to the actual level of contribution, instead of giving it all to the RBI man. There is no need for RBI.
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