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Thursday, October 03, 2019

Have analytics killed the fun of being a sports fan?

No.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 03, 2019 at 08:09 AM | 69 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analytics

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 09:01 AM (#5885800)
I'd also say no. Publicly available analytics make me enjoy the game more.

There are, however, a bunch of changes to the strategy of the game, driven by teams use of analytics, that make the game itself less enjoyable. The answer, of course, is to change the rules, ball, etc. so these strategies no longer work.
   2. Ithaca2323 Posted: October 03, 2019 at 09:25 AM (#5885804)
I'm 95% in agreement with snapper here.

I still want to care about, and be able to talk about, IDK, the possibility that Pujols sets the all-time RBI record without a bunch of people yelling about how RBI is a meaningless statistic in the analytical game. Same goes for 300 wins, or someone someday hitting .400—or even just being excited when someone wins a batting title.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5885807)
I still want to care about, and be able to talk about, IDK, the possibility that Pujols sets the all-time RBI record without a bunch of people yelling about how RBI is a meaningless statistic in the analytical game. Same goes for 300 wins, or someone someday hitting .400—or even just being excited when someone wins a batting title.

Yes. People pooh-pooh 20 win seasons, and .300 BAs is tiresome in the extreme. Just because something isn't the best measure of value doesn't mean it's not a valid stat, and fun to discuss.

The game was more fun when we cared about SHO, and pitcher wins, and the batting title. No one cares about the OPS+ race, so nothing has replaced the batting champion, and that's a loss.
   4. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2019 at 09:41 AM (#5885808)
That's just being outdated. The 300 and 400 home run club used to be a big deal. It isn't anymore.

Things change. The generation of fans that come after is aren't really going to care about RBI records or win records or batting average.

No one may care about an ops+ race but lots of people are interested in who is doing great in that stat and who is the greatest.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 09:46 AM (#5885813)
Things change. The generation of fans that come after is aren't really going to care about RBI records or win records or batting average.

Well, that's dumb. RBI, and Ws, and BA are all indications of ability and value created. They are also highly descriptive of the player.

Saying Tony Gwynn had 69 WAR, or a 132 wRC+ tells you nothing about what kind of player he was beyond the fact that he was very good. Knowing he hit .338 tells you a lot about him.

Likewise if all you know about Mariano Rivera and Whitey Ford is that they had 56 WAR, you know very little about them. Their W-L and save records are far more informative.

Stats do not only exist to express context neutral value. That's stupid reductionism. They exist to explain and describe the game; both what happened, and how it happened.
   6. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5885821)

I think people still do care about the batting title, RBIs, winning 20 games, stuff like that. It may not be the primary thing driving awards but people still care (and I do think traditional stats still get used as tiebreakers in close races). And it was only a few years ago that Miguel Cabrera won the MVP on the back of being the triple crown winner.
   7. DL from MN Posted: October 03, 2019 at 10:11 AM (#5885825)
The batting title is still interesting to me. Contact hitting is a skill. I don't have a clue who has lots of RBI, I mainly ignore that one, but I like to see who leads the league in OBP and SLG.
   8. . Posted: October 03, 2019 at 10:32 AM (#5885832)
Just because something isn't the best measure of value


At its essence, insisting that the narrative of the sport should center almost entirely about who's producing "value" and what produces "value" and then hissy fitting when people try to talk about something else is just really, really weird. A weird perspective on the sport, a weird perspective on other people, just really, really weird. The people who did that, and drove a bunch of good people out of the narrative business, and who continue to do it should really self-re-examine.
   9. Captain Supporter Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5885862)
At its essence, insisting that the narrative of the sport should center almost entirely about who's producing "value" and what produces "value" and then hissy fitting when people try to talk about something else is just really, really weird.


I could not agree more. I have a background in statistics and find most of the newer analytic measures reasonably easy to understand. Having said that, I am personally interested in baseball itself, as opposed to the stat nerd types who appear to gets their kicks from debating the pluses and minuses of the 20 different possible ways of calculating WAR and equalizing it across eras, or the intricacies of the FIP vs xFIP debate. I think anyone who thinks that the newer generation of casual baseball fan is going to start focusing on wWRC+ and fWAR rather than batting average and home runs is mistaken.

But life is large, it contains multitudes, and their is room for all types to fit under baseball's big tent.
   10. Ithaca2323 Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:42 AM (#5885866)
That's just being outdated. The 300 and 400 home run club used to be a big deal. It isn't anymore.


Analytically, perhaps. But the whole point is that people enjoy different things about the sport. So if I want to be excited that Edwin Encarnacion hit his 400th home run this year, I should be able to without someone yakking about the 400-home run club has been watered down.

Things change. The generation of fans that come after is aren't really going to care about RBI records or win records or batting average.


Maybe not. It doesn't mean others should be forced to follow suit or face derision. As #8 points out, not everyone is interested in consuming baseball through the context of value, and who produced the most of it, and why.
   11. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5885875)
I could not agree more.


I could not disagree more. I mean, yeah, the straw man Mr. Dot built is bad, and odd, but to the extent it does happen, 99% of it is people pushing back on the notion that player A is better than player B simply because player A has a higher batting average, or drives in more runs, or is "clutch", or a "proven winner". The instances of people throwing a hissy fit merely because someone expresses an admiration for players with high batting averages is vanishingly small.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5885880)
99% of it is people pushing back on the notion that player A is better than player B simply because player A has a higher batting average, or drives in more runs, or is "clutch", or a "proven winner". The instances of people throwing a hissy fit merely because someone expresses an admiration for players with high batting averages is vanishingly small.
Bingo. In fact, the average observer may even have picked up on some admiration for, say, Ichiro around here.
   13. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5885881)
So like everything nowadays everyone wants to be free to shout their opinion without anyone disagreeing.

If you want to view an accomplishment as important and don't want to hear someone poo-poo it the simple solution is to not share your opinion. People poo-pooing other people's opinions is nothing new.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5885884)
If you want to view an accomplishment as important and don't want to hear someone poo-poo it the simple solution is to not share your opinion. People poo-pooing other people's opinions is nothing new.

Or maybe the people pooh-poohing valid opinions should STFU? If you think Pujols reaching 2000 RBIs isn't a huge achievement that demonstrates his greatness, you're simply wrong. The heckler's veto is always and everywhere counter-productive.
   15. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:02 PM (#5885887)
Or maybe the people pooh-poohing valid opinions should STFU?

First of all, is this really a thing that happens here? Honestly, who the hell are you guys even criticizing, or complaining about?

And second, you're engaging in a message board, essentially. The comments section of a newsblog. If you would like to host your monologues you can presumably do that elsewhere?
   16. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5885888)
If you think Pujols reaching 2000 RBIs isn't a huge achievement that demonstrates his greatness, you're simply wrong.


Again, who is doing that? Or more specifically, are enough people doing that to really matter? 2000 RBI is a great achievement. Pujols isn't great merely because he drove in 2000 runs. Those are 2 different statements and they are not incompatible.
   17. Ithaca2323 Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:15 PM (#5885890)
First of all, is this really a thing that happens here? Honestly, who the hell are you guys even criticizing, or complaining about?


No one was talking about here. Many of us talk about baseball on a variety of platforms other than this one, and yes, there are people who will "LOL Batting average/pitcher wins/RBI" you. Which they're free to do, just like people are free to "LOL xFIP/xwOBA/WAR". I've encountered both, and find both groups of people to be tiresome.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5885893)
No one was talking about here. Many of us talk about baseball on a variety of platforms other than this one, and yes, there are people who will "LOL Batting average/pitcher wins/RBI" you. Which they're free to do, just like people are free to "LOL xFIP/xwOBA/WAR". I've encountered both, and find both groups of people to be tiresome.

Exactly.
   19. bfan Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5885896)
Saying Tony Gwynn had 69 WAR, or a 132 wRC+ tells you nothing about what kind of player he was beyond the fact that he was very good. Knowing he hit .338 tells you a lot about him.


In 2004, Albert Pujols hit .331 and Juan Pierre hit .326. Tell me what BA tells you about a player?
   20. Padraic Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5885900)
At its essence, insisting that the narrative of the sport should center almost entirely about who's producing "value" and what produces "value" and then hissy fitting when people try to talk about something else is just really, really weird.


The problem is that the older stats, like Wins and RBI and BA and raw SB, were considered excellent measures of value, so when people debated these things, they were debating value by proxy. No one talked about the batting race like it was some esoteric skill enjoyable for its own sake - it was considered one of the primary marks of excellence and value. I liked that stuff too, but it's hard to get excited about now.

The real decline is in discussions for the Hall of Fame and MVP, where interesting narrative is replaced by fairly brute numbers or debates over whose equation is best.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5885901)
In 2004, Albert Pujols hit .331 and Juan Pierre hit .326. Tell me what BA tells you about a player?

It tells you they were both high contact hitters who were very successful in reaching base via base-hit. It also strongly implies that neither struck out very much, since it's very difficult to hit .330 with a high K-rate.

I didn't say it tells you everything, but it tells you something.
   22. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5885903)
or someone someday hitting .400


This will be a HUGE deal if someone ever gets into September with a chance to hit .400. I mean, batting .400 is fun to talk about at the beginning of the season when someone gets off to a hot start. Just thinking, can he do it? But, it is such a difficult thing to do! Bellinger was hitting .404 after 49 games this season. He finished at .305. Even if you are batting .400 on Sept 1, that means you have to hit .400 in September. And, hitting .400 for even a month is hard!
   23. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:47 PM (#5885907)
It tells you they were both high contact hitters who were very successful in reaching base via base-hit.


Actually, it doesn't. 46 of Albert's hits left the ballpark. He reached base via base hit at a .274 clip. JP had 3 HR and reached base via a base hit at a .323 clip.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5885910)
Actually, it doesn't. 46 of Albert's hits left the ballpark. He reached base via base hit at a .274 clip.

Ummm, HRs count as base hits. I said nothing about BABIP. Hitting .331 means you reached base by base hit in a high % of your at bats. The fact that you rounded the bases doesn't mean you didn't reach base.

Not thinking of HRs as base hits is a fine example of a modern analytic blind spot.
   25. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5885913)

At its essence, insisting that the narrative of the sport should center almost entirely about who's producing "value" and what produces "value" and then hissy fitting when people try to talk about something else is just really, really weird.

Sports are a competition and professional baseball is inhabited by highly competitive people, so it's not weird that those people would focus on what helps teams win games. The process has accelerated over recent years in ways that aren't always healthy for the sport, but I don't think we should feign surprise or indignation about it.

That being said, we should still celebrate when a "mediocre" player makes a spectacular play in the field, gets a clutch hit, has a great month or wins 20 games even if we know it doesn't mean he's better than Mike Trout or Jake deGrom.

Or maybe the people pooh-poohing valid opinions should STFU? If you think Pujols reaching 2000 RBIs isn't a huge achievement that demonstrates his greatness, you're simply wrong. The heckler's veto is always and everywhere counter-productive.

I find both the traditional metrics and the advanced metrics fun and interesting, but allow me to pooh-pooh a little :-)

2,000 RBIs is obviously impressive but it doesn't really demonstrate Pujols' greatness, in the sense that Pujols isn't any greater today, with 600+ HRs, 2,000+ RBI and 3,000+ hits, than he was three years ago before he passed any of those milestones. His rankings on the all-time lists at that point -- 10th in HRs (591), 21st in RBI (1,817), 51st in hits (2,825) were more indicative of where he ranks among the all-time greats than his current placement on those lists (6th in HR, 4th in RBI, 15th in hits).

This is much more of a comment about compiling than it is about traditional vs. advanced stats. Pujols' traditional stats haven't been much more impressive than his advanced stats over the past three years. To prove I'm not a robot, I'm glad he stuck around to get to 3,000 hits, because that just seemed like a club he should be part of and a lot of the members got there by doing some compiling at the end of their careers.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:03 PM (#5885915)
Honestly, who the hell are you guys even criticizing, or complaining about?


Brian Kenny didn't die, did he?

There are anti-statheads who deride the numbers geeks and their metrics.

There are statheads who bellow "Kill the Win" and LOL their way at those who like traditional stats.

They are equally obnoxious.
   27. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:11 PM (#5885924)
Ummm, HRs count as base hits. I said nothing about BABIP. Hitting .331 means you reached base by base hit in a high % of your at bats. The fact that you rounded the bases doesn't mean you didn't reach base.


Yes, but my point was, the batting average alone tells us very little about the player. A trivial amount. It tells us they both avoided making an out at approximately the same rate during their PAs that did not end with a walk or HBP (and other trivial non AB PAs). It doesn't even tell us how positive those non-negative outcomes were, and the differences in the positives are far from trivial.

I like high batting averages. I wish the league had higher average BAs, even if it cost a little in overall run production. But batting average alone tells us very little about the player. Especially when comparisons are made across very different environments.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:14 PM (#5885928)
Yes, but my point was, the batting average alone tells us very little about the player. A trivial amount.


Are you for real?

Hey Misirlou, both Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-Jin Ryu had 5 WAR. What, am I supposed to assume they're exactly the same player??? IT DOESN'T EVEN TELL YOU IF ONE OF THEM WAS A PITCHER OR NOT.

WAR = trivial.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5885929)
But batting average alone tells us very little about the player.


That's true about every number.

6 WAR tells us a guy had a very good season, but no idea how he got there.

A .330 BA tells us a guy had a great year hitting safely, but nothing else about his play.


Edit: Coke to PF.
   30. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:19 PM (#5885936)
There are statheads who bellow "Kill the Win"


I think what drives that is that the method for determining which pitcher got the win is woefully out of date.
   31. bobm Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:20 PM (#5885939)
And, hitting .400 for even a month is hard!

1,090 times for a calendar month, from 1908 to 2019, min. 75 PA

197 times, from 2000 to 2019

Per BR PI
   32. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:21 PM (#5885940)
Are you for real?

Hey Misirlou, both Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-Jin Ryu had 5 WAR. What, am I supposed to assume they're exactly the same player??? IT DOESN'T EVEN TELL YOU IF ONE OF THEM WAS A PITCHER OR NOT.

WAR = trivial.

6 WAR tells us a guy had a very good season, but no idea how he got there.

A .330 BA tells us a guy had a great year hitting safely, but nothing else about his play.



When did I advocate for WAR alone being descriptive?

   33. Rusty Priske Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5885943)
Much as snapper said, Analytics has led to SOMETHING that makes it harder to enjoy the game, even though I quite like Analytics.

Pitcher usage. I hate openers. I want to see a starting pitcher go as deep into the game as he can. Pitchers seem somewhat interchangeable now (with obvious exceptions), and that is a part of baseball I currently don't enjoy.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5885944)
I think what drives that is that the method for determining which pitcher got the win is woefully out of date.
That, and years and years of people doing what you reference in #11 - the "Jack Morris knew how to win" type crap.
   35. bobm Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:25 PM (#5885945)
But batting average alone tells us very little about the player.


That's true about every number.


IMO analytics is about putting numbers into context, which by definition no single number does.
   36. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5885947)
There are anti-statheads who deride the numbers geeks and their metrics. There are statheads who bellow "Kill the Win" and LOL their way at those who like traditional stats. They are equally obnoxious.
Are there really that many in either such camp? Rather than two warring factions, these days it’s more of a continuum of statistical sophistication, IMHO, with most people using stats to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the game, to whatever degree works for them, with only a relatively few interested in going on endlessly about the value, or lack thereof, of any particular stat.
   37. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5885950)
Again, who is doing that?

Brian Kenny is loudly declaring it right on MLB Network.

   38. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5885951)
Brian Kenny didn't die, did he?

There are anti-statheads who deride the numbers geeks and their metrics.

There are statheads who bellow "Kill the Win" and LOL their way at those who like traditional stats.

They are equally obnoxious.

To add to Clapper's comment, I think it might be worthwhile to consider the scale of such things.
   39. bfan Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5885952)
Brian Kenny is loudly declaring it right on MLB Network.


I do not even know where we are on this discussion, but Brian Kenny is an idiot and I do not spend one breath of my life wondering what Brian Kenny thinks about anything (and I would say that even if he was married to my sister).
   40. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:39 PM (#5885954)
Brian Kenny is loudly declaring it right on MLB Network.

The MLB Network is like 24 hours of ex players saying really dumb things, and now two people have mentioned Brian Kenny, as if those people and their ideas are somehow given equal weight anywhere in the popular world of baseball.
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:51 PM (#5885958)
The MLB Network is like 24 hours of ex players saying really dumb things, and now two people have mentioned Brian Kenny, as if those people and their ideas are somehow given equal weight anywhere in the popular world of baseball.


But in the real world of baseball...

Every front office is now dominated by stathead thinking. Baseball coverage is dominated by use of advanced metrics. In virtually every facet of the sport that matters, we've won.

It was suggested no stathead-friendly type disparages the preferred metrics of the old crowd. That's false. What percentage of statheads are Kenny-like, I don't know, but it happens, and it's just as obnoxious as the arguments proffered by the Jack Morris knew how to win crowd.

I'm really not sure why you guys are fighting that idea so damn hard.
   42. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5885960)
I already answered that, it's the scale of the two things. Jack Morris is in the literal Hall of Fame. Brian Kenny is obnoxious, and is, from what I've seen of the MLB Network, the channel owned by MLB, devoted to baseball, basically a lone voice.
   43. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5885961)
It was suggested no stathead-friendly type disparages the preferred metrics of the old crowd.

Also, where was this suggested?
   44. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5885962)
The MLB Network is like 24 hours of ex players saying really dumb things, and now two people have mentioned Brian Kenny, as if those people and their ideas are somehow given equal weight anywhere in the popular world of baseball.

Dude, you asked who is trashing old stats. We point out that people are doing it RIGHT ON THE BROADCAST HOME OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

And now you're like "that guy is a moron".

   45. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:03 PM (#5885964)
Dude, you asked who is trashing old stats. We point out that people are doing it RIGHT ON THE BROADCAST HOME OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

And now you're like "that guy is a moron".

Hmmmmmmmm.
   46. SoSH U at work Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5885965)

I already answered that, it's the scale of the two things. Jack Morris is in the literal Hall of Fame. Brian Kenny is obnoxious, and is, from what I've seen of the MLB Network, the channel owned by MLB, devoted to baseball, basically a lone voice.


And do you really think in the scale of things in the sport of baseball in 2019, that traditional metrics hold more significance than new ones? That's absurd. Yes, some old time baseball players aren't up to speed. They are exceptions in the sport at large, and everyone here knows that.

And do you really think that the stathead with the largest platform in the sport, who has repeatedly asked to "Kill the Win" and ignore no-hitters and more, is a lone voice among our set? C'mon.

   47. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5885967)
And do you really think in the scale of things in the sport of baseball in 2019, that traditional metrics hold more significance than new ones?

This has not been the topic of discussion in this thread.
   48. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5885999)

And do you really think in the scale of things in the sport of baseball in 2019, that traditional metrics hold more significance than new ones?

I think in front offices the advanced metrics hold more significance, and should. In terms of casual viewing experience, I see a mix but it's not just traditional vs. advanced/value-based stats. For example, I find the obsession with Statcast metrics on ESPN kind of jarring, especially when it's provided without context. I don't need to know the exit velocity and launch angle of every home run unless they're outliers.

Or at Citi Field, I noticed that they've started showing some non-traditional stats on the scoreboard. I guess that's good when they show a stat like OPS+ or WAR. But what's the point of giving the stadium crowd a hitter's baBIP and no other context, which they do from time-to-time, especially when it seems like most of the fans around me had no idea what it even stands for?
   49. . Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5886011)
It was suggested no stathead-friendly type disparages the preferred metrics of the old crowd.


This is where the saber fanatics get things completely wrong in their very odd way. No one ever thought of something like batting average as a "metric." It was a guy's batting average. All the stuff about "people used to think batting average was the best measure of a hitter's value LOL" is a complete flight of imagination, confusing (A) talking about something a lot; with (B) talking about something a lot because you think it's the best measure of a hitter's value. The newspapers didn't rank guys on batting average and people didn't talk about guys winning the batting titles because they thought batting average was the best measure of a hitter's value; they talked about it primarily because it was something cool to look at and talk about and if you were good at putting up high batting averages that was kind of a cool thing to be good at. Which of course it was then and still is.

And then, in the coup d'grace of weird and maladjusted, we then had to put up with the 21st century morphing of that confusion into the preposterous "I DEMAND THAT PEOPLE STOP TALKING ABOUT BATTING AVERAGE RIGHT NOW STOP BEING CONFUSED PEOPLE!!!" hissy fit.(*) Again, broken record, but just really, really weird stuff on all number of levels.

(*) Together with the very much related internet-enabled activity of pulling out HOF ballots and various national and regional baseball columns and beat stories and a bunch of people going, "Hey, everyone, look at this idiot from Albany, his Sunday column talks about a batting average. What an idiot that guy is, we all know we're all smarter than he is and know more about baseball than he does, why does he still have a job??? FIRE JOE MORGAN!!!"
   50. DL from MN Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:41 PM (#5886020)
The newspapers didn't rank guys on batting average


I heard lots of quotes that Killebrew shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame because he only hit .256 and therefore wasn't much of a hitter.
   51. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5886023)
No one ever thought of something like batting average as a "metric."
The (Oxford) definition of "metric" in this sense is "a system or standard of measurement." Maybe in 1957 no one used the term "metric", but also no one would have disagreed with the statement "Batting average is a standard of measurement for baseball players."
   52. . Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:48 PM (#5886024)
No one thought of batting average in the way 21st century saber types use the term "metric." I do agree that it's very unlikely that sense of the term has made its way into the OED.

The idea can be made even stronger. No one thought of batting average as a "metric" because very rarely was it thought necessary to rank the players in any way. Outside the awards votes, it just wasn't a thing that was really talked about much, much less obsessed upon as it is today. Inside Sports or Sport Magazine or something would very occasionally come out with some kind of ranking, but it was always kind of an obscure thing, never a cover story, and never got much attention. I personally hardly ever read them, for the straightforward reason that they were way more boring than the more interesting forms of narrative and long-form sportswriting.

To the extent it was depicted at all in popular culture, arguing about which player was better than the other was the kind of thing you'd see middle-class married guys do on the barstools at the local escape-the-wife tavern. It's a lower form of sports discussion. Spending a bunch of time coming up with a better "metric" to "win" those arguments? A bit ... odd.
   53. SandyRiver Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5886026)
1,090 times for a calendar month, from 1908 to 2019, min. 75 PA

197 times, from 2000 to 2019

Per BR PI

My quick (so probably wrong) estimate is that 179 is about 1% of all player-months 2000-on. Couple of other comments...
1. 75 PA per month doesn't reach qualifying PA for a season. 85 might be a better threshold. (And might make only a trivial difference.)
2. Seems like there's more .400 months early than late, though seeing a season BA of .400 on May 1 stands out while a player pulling his .300 up to .320 during September tends to be hidden. However, I'd guess that the long season means a lower rate of .400 months late than early.
   54. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:58 PM (#5886029)
First of all, thrilled to see such a timely topic being written about. Nice to know this long ignored issue is being addressed. As for the topic itself I've always found it silly. I find the contrived arguments of sports radio and ESPN/Fox/etc...incredibly tedious and not worth their time so I just don't watch/listen. I'm a big fan of the metrics in baseball so I enjoy it when they come up. I don't really care about them in hockey so I don't pay attention when it gets discussed there. The games themselves remain fun to watch so no it doesn't kill the fun of being a sports fan.
   55. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5886031)
The newspapers didn't rank guys on batting average

Where the hell is this idea coming from (is there something mitigating this obvious falsehood?)?
   56. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5886037)
SABR people generally use "metric" in the dictionary definition way. It's just that some people use it as shorthand for "advanced metrics", which would be a metric that involves lots of math.

What's different is that there's a difference between metrics and "statistics" (in the baseball sense), which are counts of something or simple ratios derived from such counts, that may or may not tell us much about a player's quality (i.e., provide a measurement of the player and thus be a metric). BABIP is a statistic and also a metric. Batting average is a statistic and it's also a metric, even if not a strong metric. Hits on their own are a statistic, but not a metric. Holds are a statistic but absolutely not a metric. Something like WAR is a metric but not a statistic, because it's not a direct count of something or a ratio derived from a direct count.
   57. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5886043)
The newspapers didn't rank guys on batting average
Where the hell is this idea coming from (is there something mitigating this obvious falsehood?)?


Yeah, I may be getting old, but every Sunday a column ran a mile long from .356 to (.154) or whatever at the bottom of the page. Right next to the Bowling Honor Scores, and Buck Miller of West Allis' 814 series.
   58. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5886044)
The newspapers didn't rank guys on batting average . . .
For decades the most readily available source of MLB in-season statistics was the Sunday newspaper, which listed hitters in each league by batting average. Not that it has much relevance for today.

EDIT: Scooped.
   59. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5886046)
Someone needs to go back to 1961 to tell Topps no one cares about batting average rankings. Nerds!
   60. jmurph Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5886047)
Sports Illustrated will be positively embarrassed by this news. No one cares about who the best hitters are, man!
   61. Hot Wheeling American Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5886051)
Like any skill, successful trolling takes practice and care. Some are born into it, sure, and have natural talent, but the ability to troll can atrophy if one fails to pay attention to it. With OTP gone and with the San Francisco Giants having exited playoff contention sometime ago, SBB (not '.', as some would call use of that as an identifier cowardly) is out of practice and seems desperate on these pages. But maybe we're not talking about trolling, in the typical sense. Perhaps railing against things no one here is talking about and otherwise making things up is a fetish (sexual?). Hey, I doubt most here want to judge, but please, SBB, leave me and The Yankee Clapper out of it.
   62. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: October 03, 2019 at 04:32 PM (#5886052)
Back to the question in the headline: I'm going to agree with Jim and say "no". Indeed, they provide perhaps the primary means by which I enjoy baseball. I swore off baseball after the strike, and didn't really pay any attention to it until about 2001 when I stumbled on Primer and was fascinated by the way in which people were using rigorous analytical methods to study baseball.
   63. . Posted: October 03, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5886078)
Where the hell is this idea coming from


Your imagination, but it must be conceded that your refutation of the idea from your imagination -- in 59 and 60 -- was quite impressive.
   64. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 03, 2019 at 05:37 PM (#5886087)
Where the hell is this idea coming from (is there something mitigating this obvious falsehood?)?
Er...guys...the full sentence in #49 didn't mean that newspapers did not rank guys on batting average - it meant that they did rank them on batting average, but for a different reason than the one originally put forth. I disagree with that statement, but that's what the statement was.
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 03, 2019 at 07:19 PM (#5886127)
It's not that people thought batting average was the way to rank hitters, it's that they gave it disproportionate weight relative to other more important statistics (OBP wasn't included on the back of Topps cards when I was collecting in the mid-80s, for example, although SLG was. Not sure when that changed.)

What I think is preposterous is the notion that people didn't care about whether certain players were better than others before sabermetrics came along. Again, the question was whether analytics have killed the fun of being a baseball fan. You can scoff at the guys on barstools having those debates (and I can assure you we were having those same arguments as kids on the playground -- it wasn't just middle aged drunks), you can call it "a lower form of sports discussion" if you want, but the fact is people enjoyed that sort of thing and they continue to enjoy it with new metrics.

So again, to echo Jim, the answer is "no".
   66. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 03, 2019 at 07:31 PM (#5886140)
Er...guys...the full sentence in #49 didn't mean that newspapers did not rank guys on batting average - it meant that they did rank them on batting average, but for a different reason than the one originally put forth.


The way I would put it is that they didn't rank the hitters by batting average, they listed them by batting average.

Even back in the dark ages of poor, benighted 1983, we weren't under the impression that Bill Madlock was the best hitter in the National League.

EDIT: I see that this point was made back in 58.
   67. Sunday silence Posted: October 03, 2019 at 07:32 PM (#5886142)
Arguing Defensive Runs Saved with Snapper and CFB has certainly killed it for me. I'm so done with baseball.
   68. bobm Posted: October 03, 2019 at 07:36 PM (#5886144)
1. 75 PA per month doesn't reach qualifying PA for a season. 85 might be a better threshold. (And might make only a trivial difference.)

169 @ min of 85 PA vs 197 @ min of 75 PA

2. Seems like there's more .400 months early than late, though seeing a season BA of .400 on May 1 stands out while a player pulling his .300 up to .320 during September tends to be hidden. However, I'd guess that the long season means a lower rate of .400 months late than early.

#>=.400, 2000-2019, min 85 PA

      Month  #
April/March 19
        May 24
       June 37
       July 37
     August 28
   Sept/Oct 24
   69. bbmck Posted: October 03, 2019 at 11:41 PM (#5886305)
Christian Science Monitor with an article on park effects in 1984 and Killebrew explaining how to hit against the shift.

Curiosity is natural and once there is vastly more computing power than the Commodore 64 and IBM XT of the mid 80s people are going to make an attempt to answer the question instead of simply addressing it. If people lost interest in baseball because cutting edge insights suggested that 573 HR is partly a result of circumstances or were upset that an unproven MLB player was commanding $10k a year that's their choice. You certainly don't have to read CSM to follow baseball and you can certainly try to hit over the shift, maybe doing that would have gotten Killebrew into the 600 HR club.

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