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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Murray Chass on Baseball: BREWERS BOAST BEST IMPROVEMENT

Murray & Melvins boner records

lp

The Brewers’ first-half success is welcomed by those of us who have not become wild-eyed fans of analytics. Melvin doesn’t disdain new-fangled statistics, but he keeps them in perspective.

“I use certain numbers,” he said without identifying them. “We use them internally. We don’t advertise them. Some are useful, some aren’t.”

Melvin said he doesn’t use them for minor leaguers. “The minor leagues are for development,” he said. “You can’t analyze players in the minor leagues. You develop players and until they get through the teaching process it’s hard to analyze the numbers. The minor league numbers don’t always relate to major league success.”

One of the reasons minor leaguers can’t be judged on the new statistics, Melvin said, is the intangibles. “Who are the players willing to take instruction,” he asked, citing one intangible that can’t be determined by a sabermetric formula. Á lot of players have early success but don’t develop,” he said.

Melvin also said new statistics can be costly to teams that live by them. He cited the Boston Red Sox signing of Carl Crawford as an example. The Red Sox gave Crawford $142 million “because he had a 6 ½ WAR number,” then couldn’t wait to trade him.

“There’s a spot for analytics,” he said. “You can put a certain percentage of weight on them. But some of the analytics have a high cost.”

Putting my view in perspective, Melvin said, “A scout once said ‘I may not be educated but my eyes are.’”

Repoz Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:26 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, sabermetrics

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: July 03, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4742984)
This is not a criticism of Melvin but of course the silly logic ...

Yes, wonderful, the Brewers are having an awesome season. But if their "non-Moneyball" approach is so brilliant, why haven't they been winning for years? Melvin took over at the end of 2002. In the 11 full seasons since, they've made the playoffs twice, also the only times they've won 90+ games. Again, not a shot at him -- by 2005 he had them back to 500 and they've never had a really bad season since but he's not a miracle worker. For his full tenure, they are a bit under 500 ... or +20 from 2005-13. Over that period, Mr. Moneyball is +47 and even the Rays have made it up to +29 despite being 98 games below 500 from 05-07.

Melvin certainly started with a nice run in the draft -- Weeks 2003, Braun 2005, Odorizzi and Lawrie 2008 and Gallardo in the 2nd round 2004 and LuCroy in the 3rd round 2007. I'll leave it to prospect mavens to say where the system is at right now but I notice that nobody drafted since 2008 has yet had any ML impact. Of course you get Scooter Gennett from the 16th round but I think that sort of stuff is essentially "luck."

I buy his argument more for minor-league pitchers than hitters. Pitchers I assume are regularly learning new pitches, working on location, etc. I can well imagine that improvement is more important than overall performance and/or early performance. With batters I'm sure they're working on stuff too but not at the level of "new pitch" and those improvements should easily translate into performance.



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