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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Henning: Tigers scouts try to win WAR on player evaluations

And nothing finer than Kitty Kaat cornered...

“When people are going by straight WAR evaluating, I just don’t buy that, personally,” said Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, flavoring his opinion with an anecdote that involved Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney.

“I remember when I went to the ownership meetings in Colorado in August, and I was walking back from dinner with Tony La Russa (retired Cardinals manager) and we’re talking about statistics and about WAR. And, no offense to the player, but when I woke up that morning they had on the (ESPN.com) site that Darwin Barney that day was ranked ahead of Miguel Cabrera in WAR.

“And I don’t mean anything against Darwin Barney, but there wasn’t a person in Major League Baseball who on that particular day would have traded Miguel Cabrera for Darwin Barney. So, when people say WAR is all-encompassing, that loses the argument to me right there.”

...Rob Neyer, national baseball editor for SB Nation, and a sabermetrician since his days working with James, brushes aside thoughts baseball has turned into rocket science.

“It’s really simple,” Neyer said during a phone conversation. “All we’re trying to do is count as many things as we can count to tell us how good a player is, or how good he can be. It’s not really all that complicated.

“One of the things that’s changed in recent years is that people are counting not only how good a player a hitter is — which they’ve always done from the time of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — but we’re also counting with some precision how many plays this guy makes in the field, and how he’s running the bases.

“How many times does he go first to third? How many times has he scored from first on a double? I’ll hear Jim Kaat (MLB Network announcer) say three or four times a game, ‘That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t show up in a box score.’

“Well, you know what? You’re looking at the wrong box score.”

Repoz Posted: November 20, 2012 at 06:47 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, tigers

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   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: November 20, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4306832)
I only hire employees by their resume and references, and you are a idiot if you do anything else.

I totally ignore an prospective employee's resume and the word of prior employers and rely entirely on how they perform in their interview, only morons would do anything differently.

Employees should be promoted by IQ rank, to ensure the best end up running the company and their results will eventually catch up to their abilities.

Results matter, so my employees who produce the most results always get the most authority, no matter how ill-suited they are intellectually, and regardless of how many claims of sexual harassment, fraud, and likely embezzlement have been made (or sustained) against them.

And if I do test employees, I demand the testing service give me a single number to rank each employee by, so I can draw a line and fire everyone below it and reward everyone above it without missing my tee time.

I do not want any test service that gives each employee multiple scores, each rating their strength in a specific key job skill, because actually using that information requires me actually putting in work to determine where they can best contribute to our teams efforts and how I can best help them improve their weaknesses to become productive workers instead of firing them, and I will end up missing many tee times.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4306843)
Judging solely by WAR would be silly.

The Barney anecdote is also silly. Of course you wouldn't trade Cabrera for Barney (at least money aside) even if you believed wholeheartedly in WAR because Cabrera has been outstanding for several seasons while Barney had been (possibly) excellent for half a season. Certainly don't use WAR (or BA/HR/RBI for that matter) for player projection if you have no grasp of random variation.

The more question WAR question is "which would you pay more for, guaranteed first-half Barney production or guaranteed first-half Cabrera production?" That's a tougher question (and recall Cabrera went nuts in the 2nd half of the season). You could extend this to Cabrera vs. Trout -- I'm not particularly confident that Trout is a better player right now, in true talent terms, than Cabrera. I certainly don't expect Trout to keep putting up 10-11 WAR seasons while I do expect Cabrera to chug along in the 5-7 range for at least a few more. But I'd pay a lot more for guaranteed Trout 2012 than guaranteed Cabrera 2012.

Of course nobody can guarantee that. For GMs, "do you believe in WAR?" is a secondary question to "how much faith do you have in projections?"

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