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Friday, November 23, 2012

Paulling: Numbers can point out better choices

Paulling Rules! (to some)

The last month has embarrassed the sport of baseball.

...I reached out to see why the BBWAA seemingly ignored WAR. Mark Feinsand, the New York Yankees beat writer for the New York Daily News who argued that Derek Jeter and Rafael Soriano were more valuable than Cano, was gracious enough to respond. He didn’t believe in the value of WAR because Baseball Reference and Fangraphs used different formulas to calculate it.

That’s a fair point. If one metric is supposed to be the be-all, end-all, why can’t anyone agree upon the variables used to calculate it? However, that misses the larger point. There is no such thing as a perfect metric, so why not use something that comes as close as we can?

...Moneyball, however, remains a concept some writers (and fans, for that matter) don’t understand. It’s new, it’s progressive, it’s different. We know all too well how some people respond to things like that. To be fair, I should credit the writers and fans willing to adapt and attempt to understand new-age statistics.

I wrote a column a few weeks ago about how the Baltimore Orioles were lucky this season because of their astounding record in one-run games and extra innings. Rather than providing any sort of rebuttal, one person sent the one-word response of “#########” and another posted “Your a douche” in the comments section. One piece of feedback I received was to not be so negative toward the Orioles.

Statistical analysis isn’t meant to be positive or negative. It’s meant to describe what we’re seeing in much better detail. Whether we want to listen tells us how much we’re willing to progress.

Repoz Posted: November 23, 2012 at 07:56 PM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. Adam Starblind Posted: November 23, 2012 at 08:34 PM (#4308521)
Feinsand is an idiot. When we were both teenagers, I disagreed with him that Dave Stewart was a lock for the hall of fame. He told me "be quiet; you don't know what you're talking about." He's not progressed much since then.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: November 23, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4308539)
I reached out to see why the BBWAA seemingly ignored WAR.

Ignored War? The awards are a voting thing, only a complete and utter moron would think that one single stat has any ability to accurately reflect player value (and you would have to be legally brain dead to think that War for pitchers should even be considered for the Cy Young) Yes I don't agree with the votes, etc... but it's not because War tells me they are wrong, it's because traditional stats tell me they were wrong. Verlander had a better season than Price(barely) and Trout had a better season than Cabrera, and I don't need to look at war to determine that.

Offensively Trout and Cabrera produced roughly equivalent numbers, Cabrera gets a nod for playing time, while Trout gets the nod for baserunning and defense...without using War it's easy to see that the real argument between these two was 1. playing time 2. value for baserunning 3. adjustments for team standings(which of course ignores team record in the equation)....War did not need to factor into the discussion at the slightest.
   3. jwb Posted: November 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4308661)
Why do none of these articles mention that the Giants do have a Director of Quantitative Analysis on their staff? Yeshayah Goldfarb is also their Director of Minor League Operations, so I'm sure he watches his share of games. While he may not talk to scouts, he must talk with player development guys like Dick Tidrow and Fred Stanley on a regular basis.
   4. BDC Posted: November 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4308669)
argued that Derek Jeter and Rafael Soriano were more valuable than Cano

As the fanboy notes, that's a desperate argument even by totally back-of-the-baseball-card statistics. Soriano pitched well, but just 68 innings … a team-MVP argument for him, naturally, depends totally on stepped-up-with-Mo out drama.

As for Cano, he's even with Jeter in playing time, made a bunch less outs, scored more runs, drove in a heck of a lot more runs, and had a much higher fielding percentage than Jeter (if you want an old-fashioned proxy for "he's obviously a much better fielder," which I think even NYC writers have long ago conceded). Cano's slower, but Jeter had all of six more Stolen Bases. Again, the argument is in the drama of "at an age when many had written him off, Jeter stepped up and …"
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4308673)
Why do none of these articles mention that the Giants do have a Director of Quantitative Analysis on their staff?

For the same reason that few articles mention that Billy Beane still has a scouting department - it gets in the way of the story.

No team relies entirely on scouting or statistical analysis. All teams rely on a combination of both. The weight that's given to each component varies from team to team. But that's a nuance that many people don't want to mention - it's easier to paint a team as pro- or anti-sabermetric. The reality is much more complex.

-- MWE
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: November 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM (#4308908)
Reading this article, and god you have to hate stat heads. This guy is just as bad as the writers. He points to one stat (war) and just runs with it as if it's gospel.

No where does he acknowledge that war could be overrating Trouts value. The Angels park factor could be an issue. Somehow Trout's .963(171ops+)ops is better after park factors and Miggy's .999 ops(165). If the writers feel that these park factors are being exaggerated for some reason, that alone is enough to eliminate a lot of the gap. Angel stadium is now at a park factor of 92, while Tigers are at 104. Angels have gone done from a 96-98 as recently as three or four years ago, and Tiger stadium has been trending to a hitters park, when it was once considered a great pitchers park. I'm not sold on the park factors as of right now, and I can see the writers feeling the same way.

Ignoring park factors then, you have Cabrera at 139 runs created and Trout at 138. Offensively equal players, runs created includes stolen bases, caught stealing and ground into double plays. Basically this says that before any positional adjustments are made or park adjustments are made they were equal players offensively. So you can legitimately argue against the park factors, you can argue against the playing time, and you can give a bonus point for team Standings and still not be a luddite. I would have given the award to Trout myself, but I do not see it being as clear of a choice as War makes it, if you disagree with the park factors alone that makes up a large amount of the difference,(roughly 2 wins) and another 2 wins is made up by the defensive numbers. If you think that is an overrating of Trout's defensive value or underrating what Cabrera did (changed positions for the team) then you could argue for an adjustment there.

Again, I would have voted for Trout and think anyone who didn't was being an idiot, but I can at least see some logical arguments other than the triple crown(mind you I think the triple crown, team standings, playing time and changing positions is all that the voters looked at, as they were looking for an argument FOR Cabrera than an argument for league MVP)

The second half of his article had promise, as he got specific responses from a couple of writers and the quote of the article in my opinion was
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins was similarly anti-Moneyball.

"The stat-crazed sabermetricians, as they are called, invent specific methods of evaluation without needing to witness the action in person," he wrote. " [T]heir approach is worshiped by thousands of fans and bloggers who wouldn't last five minutes in a ball-talk conversation with (Giants scouts) Tim Flannery, Mark Gardner or Ron Wotus."

and could have lead to a great article itself instead of a standard throwaway ---well the A's, Rangers and Rays did well, and are moneyball oriented---response. There was also the comment about not watching baseball etc and he could have written a hell of an article concentrating on refuting the quotes he got, but instead he was more concerned about War(which is a good, but flawed stat, and not the end all of the conversation.)

It's funny that the stat community is trying to give the guy the mvp that the scouts would love, while the writers gave the award to the guy that they used to make fun of the stat community for supporting, and then they pretend that it's because they are doing it because of what they saw.

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