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Monday, April 05, 2004

You Could Look It Up: Backlash

Steven Goldman from BPro (free piece)

Jon Daly Posted: April 05, 2004 at 08:51 PM | 422 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Steve Treder Posted: April 09, 2004 at 11:18 PM (#489993)
Backlasher,

That one poster in this thread asked whether Beane had actually made the "crapshoot" quote, because he wasn't sure whether he had or not, is hardly cause to conclude, "every stathead worth his salt will say 'Beane never said crapshoot. That was Lewis or somebody else.'"

You want to give me 10 to 1 on the Yanks?

I don't gamble. Sorry.

Do you want to admit Beane is an #######. I thought there was a big rally about how these guys didn't have an attitude problem.

The whole point I was laboring to make is that there is no such thing as a monolithic "these guys." Everyone is an individual. I frankly don't know or care whether Beane is an #######.

If you admit that (1) the saber personalities are rude;

Again, there is no such monolith as "the saber personalities." In every large group of people, there are a range of personalities (as exemplified by this site), and moreover, each of us can be rude sometimes and polite other times. I will agree to no such idiotic statement.

(2) scouting is important

I guarantee you that you will never find that I have said anything to the contrary. People who say that scouting is unimportant are, IMO, wrong, whether they are "saber personalities" or not.

(3) there is a difference in the post season and the regular season

There is a vast, enormous difference between the post season and the regular season. Chief among the many important points of difference is the fact that the longest postseason series is less than one-twenty-third as long as the regular season. All the rest of the many, real and legitimate differences, pale in importance to that one.
   202. Backlasher Posted: April 09, 2004 at 11:56 PM (#489996)
My teams have lost to comparable teams by one freaking win each time for the past four years. It's not like we were getting blown out by the '99 Spiders, guys!

OK, fun with numbers time. The Oakland A's are 0-9 in games when they can clinch a birth into the next round. Now what's that 0.01 % likely to happen if the teams are even in talent. Yeah, I guess in 10,000 games its bound to happen--it just happened to happen to Beane. In those games they have made 12 errors, scored just 24 runs and given up 10 unearned runs.

Motto, between his odds making and luck--don't take Beane to Vegas. He'll try to get you to use his new roulette system.
   203. Backlasher Posted: April 09, 2004 at 11:57 PM (#489997)
My teams have lost to comparable teams by one freaking win each time for the past four years. It's not like we were getting blown out by the '99 Spiders, guys!

OK, fun with numbers time. The Oakland A's are 0-9 in games when they can clinch a birth into the next round. Now what's that 0.01 % likely to happen if the teams are even in talent. Yeah, I guess in 10,000 games its bound to happen--it just happened to happen to Beane. In those games they have made 12 errors, scored just 24 runs and given up 10 unearned runs.

Motto, between his odds making and luck--don't take Beane to Vegas. He'll try to get you to use his new roulette system.
   204. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2004 at 02:50 AM (#489999)
Steve....

I probably shouldn't have jumped on Beane's 10% minimum / 15% maximum quote, not because it's all that defensible, but because it's too much like picking the wings off a fly. You may not be a betting man, but perhaps Beane himself is. Do you honestly think that Beane would have gone over to Vegas in 1998 and put up $8500 to win $1500 that the Yankees would not win the Series that year? I actually have a lot of respect for Beane's intelligence, so when he makes such a transparently idiotic statement as that I should just assume he's trying to get a rise out of someone and let it slide with a grin. The less charitable explanation is that he's actually getting very defensive about the A's postseason folds and is throwing out those ridiculous percentages (ridiculous because they never could seriously apply in years where there are standout teams or .500 level divisional winners) as a way to deflect (mostly unjustified) criticism that's been coming his way for those collapses.

In either case, Beane would never be stupid enough to make real life bets made on the basis of those off the cuff numbers. Unless he really did like to throw away money.
   205. BWC Posted: April 10, 2004 at 02:58 AM (#490000)
These A's arguments were hashed out after another swoon last October, but, while it doesn't make their record particularly impressive, they did win a game in Yankee Stadium in 2000 when they were down 2-1 (the night before T. Long botched an easy fly ball in the sun), which I have to believe was a more high pressure game than either of their losses while up 2-0 in 2001 or 2003. So it isn't, strictly speaking, true that they've lost in the playoffs everytime the pressure was on.

But nobody on either side of this argument is going to be convinced in either direction so long as the A's keep dropping playoff series. Those who place great faith in the numbers can point out that 4 straight series losses still falls within the 95% confidence interval. Those who won't accept that analysts can model reality to a significant degree will never be persuaded by statistical arguments.

A final point: Beane is wrong that all playoff teams chances fall between 10-15%. If you consider regular season WPCT a fair approximation of a team's talent level, the '98 Yankees had about a 40-45% chance of winning the series, and the '98 Cubs had something under 5%. Even a season like 2002 that didn't feature a dominant regular season team had a spread of teams from 6-19% (Check out this article by Tom Tippett). Sure, regular season WPCT might not be the best thing to use (i.e. the postseason gives you a chance to pitch Johnson & Schilling more and Shawn Estes less), but I doubt it's different enough to bring everybody to within a 10-15% range.
   206. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:15 AM (#490001)
Steve, a more concrete way of putting it is that a team with a great pitching staff and above average hitting, in the context of no other team with great pitching, is considerably more than a 15% shot to win the World Series. The '98 Yankees are only the best example of that; the '95 Braves would be another, even though the Indians were a great team that year as well. And the '99 Yankees were perhaps only slightly better than 50-50 to beat the Braves, but they were a lot better than a 30% pick to win the AL pennant that year. The same for the '95 Braves, who had no real competition in the NL playoffs.

On the other hand, the chances that a team with a mediocre pitching staff (say the '98 or '99 Rangers) and good but not overwhelming hitting will make it safely through 3 rounds of playoffs are considerably less than 10%.

That's 3 years out of 9 where Beane's percentages are absolutely nuts. And you could probably throw in '96 as well, though the Braves got a scare in the NLCS.

In a year where all the teams are roughly equal in talent, or all have decided weaknesses (such as last year), Beane's numbers make more sense. But in most years they don't at all. This has nothing to do with Vegas odds, only with empirical observation of the actual teams in actual playoffs. If Vegas started posting odds like that each and every October those Sports Books would be broke in three weeks the first time a '95 or '98 situation came along. Steve, if all you had to do in '95 was to lay $3000 to win $7000 that either the Braves or the Indians would win the Series, I think you'd find your anti-gambling resolve weakening very quickly.
   207. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:55 AM (#490002)
Andy, I'm curious how exactly calling Beane "absolutely nuts" is supposed to be evidence that he's wrong. I don't know whether Beane would have made these bets before the fact -- but I know that it doesn't exactly take a lot of guts, or intelligence, to make the bets after the fact, as you're doing. Everything's obvious after the fact.

The '98 Yankees were pretty damn dominant -- but the '01 Mariners were, too, and they didn't win the pennant, let alone the World Series. The 1988 Mets only had to make it through one round, and they couldn't do it. The 1997 Braves. The 1987 Tigers.
   208. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 10, 2004 at 07:35 AM (#490007)
RossCW: This is utter nonsense. The difference between 15% and 10% is not very much here whether it is tiny or not. The 12.5 percent chance assumes that every series is 50-50.

That might be why Steve said, "If every team had a perfectly equal chance of winning, then each team's chance would be 1 in 8, or 12.5%."

But if the chances of winning each series is 45-55 the team at 45 has less than a 10% chance of winning all three series.

Yes, it's way down to 9%. Thanks for pointing that one out. Clearly, the fact that it's 9% rather than 10% refutes the essence of Beane's claim, which is that these numbers aren't particularly high for any team, and that they aren't that different from team to team in the postseason. That's the underlying dispute -- not whether the bottom number is 10% or 9%.

As for your "expected to win 60% of its games," yes, if you can find a team expected to win 60% of its games against other playoff teams. Such an animal is exceedingly rare.

Dave, Beane's statement was an approximation, not a mathematical calculation to be taken literally, so I don't see why it "looks wrong" to you.
   209. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:54 AM (#490011)
Well, Mr. Ready To Be a Troll, perhaps you ought to read these threads more carefully. If you had, you'd have seen a discussion of DIPS 2.0. In DIPS 2.0, of course, Voros "admitted" that DIPS needed to be corrected. Which is, of course, an "admission" that he was "wrong" when he first discussed DIPS.

.
   210. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2004 at 11:52 AM (#490013)
Andy, I'm curious how exactly calling Beane "absolutely nuts" is supposed to be evidence that he's wrong. I don't know whether Beane would have made these bets before the fact -- but I know that it doesn't exactly take a lot of guts, or intelligence, to make the bets after the fact, as you're doing. Everything's obvious after the fact.

The '98 Yankees were pretty damn dominant -- but the '01 Mariners were, too, and they didn't win the pennant, let alone the World Series. The 1988 Mets only had to make it through one round, and they couldn't do it. The 1997 Braves. The 1987 Tigers.


David, first of all, those odds refer to eight team playoffs, not the old two round version. So the 1987 Tigers don't apply. But you know this. Anyway, the 1987 Tigers would hardly have been a strong favorite over the Cardinals to begin with, or the Giants for that matter. I wasn't saying that Beane's percentages were nuts in all years, just in most of them.

Your point is that "everything is obvious after the fact." But let me ask you a variant of the same question I asked Treder: If you had been offered a chance to put up $1500 on the 1998 Yankees, in order to win $8500, are you really going to tell me that you wouldn't have taken that bet?

And if you could have put up $3000 to win $7000 on a bet that either the Braves or the Indians were going to win the 1995 World Series, are you seriously saying that you wouldn't have jumped at the opportunity?

And none of this "I don't bet" business. I'll settle for a statement that in 1995, prior to the playoffs, you would have gone on record with a prediction that the combined Braves-Indians entry had only a 30% chance of winning the Series; and that in 1998, again prior to the playoffs, the Yankees had only a 15% chance.

At this point you're either going to have to back off from that 10%-15% pidgin-scientific statement, or just keep trying to navigate your fist through that tar baby. I know you're stubborn, David, but there are limits.

Again, I'm not saying that there isn't a certain amount of truth to the "crapshoot" theory, but at its base it's really only a slightly different way of saying "anything can happen." Which is true in a hypothetical sense, but not in anything like the proportions posited by Beane in that "10%" and "15%" statement.

Oh, and about the 2001 Mariners. They lost, of course. That was one year. Give me 85 to 15 on the next 116 win team that comes along. I'll ride that horse every time it comes up, and so would you.
   211. BWC Posted: April 10, 2004 at 12:37 PM (#490015)
Tippett's precision was false, but I doubt he was off by 30%. And if you gave me 85-15 odds on the 2001 M's winning it all, I would have taken it, even if the M's looked about as weak to me as a 116 win team possibly could.

Plenty of people here admit that the "least iota" of their belief system might be wrong. See the clutch hits on platoon splits, for a recent example. What some backlash types seem to want is for statheads to admit their entire belief system is wrong, which isn't going to happen.
   212. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2004 at 01:12 PM (#490017)
Plenty of people here admit that the "least iota" of their belief system might be wrong. See the clutch hits on platoon splits, for a recent example. What some backlash types seem to want is for statheads to admit their entire belief system is wrong, which isn't going to happen.

Nor should it. But it would make for a lot more converts if rhetorical buzzwords like "crapshoot" were excised from the statheads' vocabulary, if for no other reason than it doesn't sound all that different, or any more scientific, than some old buzzard sitting in the dugout spitting out his false teeth and saying "baseball's a funny game, and you never know what's gonna happen."

When one 95 win team beats another 95 win team, in the context of roughly equivalent regular season challenges, it might fairly be called a "crapshoot" to predict a winner. But go through every postseason series ever played, and see how many (or how few) of them ended in "upsets" in any serious meaning of the term. Your findings aren't going to support any "crapshoot" theory, believe me. The clearly favored team wins at a much better than 15 to 10 ratio, which is the one Beane says is the maximum allowable. Much as I admire Beane, he's just plain full of it here.
   213. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:14 PM (#490020)
If the A's teams lost because they didn't *build* them to win in the playoffs, what, with specifics, was wrong with each team, each year? If that can't or won't be answered, than all the whining about Statheads in the world is just a load of crap. We await the answer.

This post alone will show you three major problems with this saber congolomeration.

(1) Bad attacks - For all the whining about post-sabermetrics being cowards, who are the people using one and done psedynoms. Frankly, it shouldn't matter because the only arguments in most of their vocabularies are (1) ad hominem (2) no groupthink (3) correlation in small sets to something that isn't important (4) burden shifting. The smarter ones like Treder will at least try to paint themselves in some idealogical high ground. That at least sounds good to the weak-minded. I don't think Neyer's "Baltimore is an idiot organization" or Sheehan's "economic illeterate #####" plays to anybody except the fanboys. If you want to talk about something that doesn't add to the discussion, why not talk about "Backlush" or that guy who uses a sentence as his name. I guarantee you Treder want do this. He'll never call to task an offender in a thread who agrees with his POV. If the thread is weeks old; he'll say something like, "your problem is them." But for all his self-appointed post moderation duties, he'll never admonish anybody who holds a similar point of view and commits a bigger sin.

(2) If your point of view isn't working, maybe you should be the one figuring out what's wrong with it. You certainly don't come off as intellectually superior by someone showing you a problem and then you demanding that person fix your problem. Especially,

(3) When this thread tells you exactly how to fix the problem. Spend some money on scouting rather than on somebody that hasn't played an inning of baseball in their life. Draft guys that can defend their position rather than just sit up with the bat on their shoulder getting walks from weaker positions. You've seen evidence about how the A's tank it in the important games. Is it luck to make that many errors, and give up that many unearned runs? Is it luck to make that many baserunning mistakes? Is it luck to lose nine in a row.

(4) Demanding evidence but not providing any yourself. Repeatedly we have talked about this DRIPS conglomeration. We've asked, what does it do from a pragmatic standpoint. We have shown where the conclusions and opinions are just flat out wrong. At least the moderate types in this very thread are saying that in a Rob Neyer kind of way-McCracken admits that DIPS 1.0 is wrong. To see the legions of statheads take it further is not hard. 3 seconds of searching on baseball primer:

"http://www.baseballprimer.com/clutch/archives/00010969.shtml"

Can get you a post saying that "Batters control BABIP." If the older stuff was available, you would find even worse transgressions. I remember Walk Davis starting from the premise of, "Pitchers don't control hits on balls in play" and leading to all sorts of weird conclusions. And let me pre-empt Steve Treder's faulty line of counter argument; Its not hard to find a lot of people misstating this conclusion.

Here's another: http://www.baseballprimer.com/clutch/archives/00010832.shtml

There is no reason that I have to post every instance of somebody saying something stupid about BABIP to show that a lot of self-styled sabermetricians do this alot. If you want more evidence, click on the Search feature. There is plenty out there and there are far too many to name by name and thread. Certifying this nonsense as a class action is only a problem if the other side just doesn't have any arguments left and they want to detract from the question, of "What good is DRIPS"

OK, fine post something about some meaningless correlation with one other stat. If I do this, can I do it for a meaningful number of pitchers? If 95% of the pitchers fall out due to "small sample size" or "luck", and I don't know which 5% its good for then how does this help. Also, I think teams look at more than ERA, and I doubt they look at ERA that much. I don't remember any GM saying, "well we signed him because he had a good ERA last year." Maybe some roto geek did this, but not real baseball.

Don't give me that its just "one more tool" garbage either. The color of their hair may be one more tool as well. If it doesn't add anything, what's the use of spending time and money on the extra tool. Show me where it does something.

From a practical standpoint, I don't see where it does anything other than give you a bullpen with Bob Howry and Ramiro Mendoza. I don't see where it does anything other than overrate last year's contributions from Glendon Rucsh, Brandon Duckworth. I don't think it helped find a relief pitcher, whose market rate was about 2 Million dollars, that even had a "closer" mystique.
   214. Steve Treder Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:17 PM (#490021)
But go through every postseason series ever played, and see how many (or how few) of them ended in "upsets" in any serious meaning of the term.

I'm in agreement with what the anonymous poster in #395 says ... I guess where I come at this is that I think postseason baseball, perhaps precisely because the regular season is such a long and effective qualifying tournament, practically never pits two teams against one another where I would see one of them as, truly, "clearly" favored, if by favored we mean genuinely better and not just better hyped by the media and/or drawing down more money in Vegas.

As #395 points out, matchups between teams with more than a 10-win difference over the regular season -- less than a 10% difference in quality as demonstrated over nearly half a year's worth of play -- happen quite rarely. Just looking at WS matchups (simply because that's easiest for me to do, looking at the b-r.com postseason page), I count just 10 times since 1940 in which the difference between the opponents was more than 10 wins:

- 1998 Yankees over Padres, favorite wins
   215. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:31 PM (#490023)
I'll grant you, but it isn't that much better -- if just one more of the underdogs had won, it would be 6-4, exactly the 15-10 advantage, and this is in head-to-head play, not in the 3-round, 8-team complex arrangement that comprises the current-day complete postseason tournament.

But it wasn't 6-4, it was 7-3. Just one more win by the favorite it would have been 8-2, which is tremondously different than 15-10. Please.

Ok, if the regular season is so important and the playoffs is a crapshoot, a 3-2 victory over a 162 game schedule is what the difference in 32 victories between the teams. So at the end of the day, any team that is within 32 games of the team with the best record should be counted as co-champs. Teams win because they outperform the other team. On some rare occasions, a fluke event will occur that changes an outcome--but the team that performs the best wins most of the time.

If the "crapshoot" term is inflammatory and offensive, then, fine, let's agree upon something more reasonable. What would it be? "Highly difficult to predict or control?"

How about "dependent on executing better than the other team"
   216. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:36 PM (#490024)
Backlasher COULDN'T answer the question, so he evaded it. The burden of proof lies with his position. Just tell us where the A's went wrong specifically. Saying they lost therefore sabermetrics sucks is NOT a cogent argument. And his charge about using anonymous posting names is quite silly considering that's what his is.

Please, there is plenty of evidence in this thread that Beane ignored baserunning, defense, and players abilities to match up with quality opposition. You've got all the evidence you want, and I have no burden whatsoever. Its Beane and the saber junkies that can't win. Maybe they should explain why a team of Jeremy Giambi's and Matt Stairs will beat Garrett Anderson. As for my name, its been the same for any post on this subject. When you get out of high school and no a little more about debating than your little debate club, you can try the tricks. Treder and Nieporent pull them off reasonably well to appeal to appeal to more than just weak-minded fanboys.
   217. Steve Treder Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:37 PM (#490025)
a 3-2 victory over a 162 game schedule is what the difference in 32 victories between the teams

OK, it's official, Backlasher: you're incomprehensible.
   218. BWC Posted: April 10, 2004 at 03:51 PM (#490026)
Geez, Backlasher, do you see any difference in sample size between a 5 game sample and a 162 game sample?
   219. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:02 PM (#490027)
OK, it's official, Backlasher: you're incomprehensible.

In what way 5 games divided by 162 games comes to what precisely. The point is that in the relevant contest 1 team outperformed the other team. If you are going to say that its insignificant, why is there significance in one team outperforming another team by 6 games over a 162 game schedule.

If you really want to get into, this mathematically proves they are the best, why not play a minimum number of 10 games and not stop until one team has won more than 10% more than the other team.

Heck if we want to go that far, why don't we crown 30 champions and sing kum-ba-ya by the campfire.

The playoffs are a specific contest where the team that executes the best wins. I have no problem saying they are the winner, and I have no problem saying that most of the time they are the better team. I have no problem in saying that a team that loses 4 times in a row has problems in both organizational philosophy and execution.

You can play math games all day. I'm sure I can devise a model to show that its possible that the best team would perform over the regular season like the Detroit Tigers did last year. It just doesn't make sense to do so, and it defies common sense to try. The A's have lost four in a row. They have lost nine playoff clinching games. That's solid evidence of an organizational problem. That's solid evidence that Beane is doing something wrong. There is also enough solid evidence that without Alderson's contribution of the big 3, that the A's are the Brewers.

You can show evidence till your blue in the face that its possible that the A's fortune is just luck; however, you aren't going to show evidence that it is probable.

btw- Am I right that you aren't going to admonish anybody in this thread that supports your point of view.
   220. Charlie Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:10 PM (#490029)
Sorry if I'm rehashing arguments that have already been made. It's hard to keep track of them all in a thread this long. But!

Draft guys that can defend their position rather than just sit up with the bat on their shoulder getting walks from weaker positions.

You've haven't been paying much attention to the A's, have you?

You've seen evidence about how the A's tank it in the important games.

We haven't seen a lot of coherent evidence about WHY they "tank."

"Is it luck to lose nine in a row"

Yes. To just take a crude look at the last three teams that won the world series: the D-Backs won with a bunch of old dudes and two dominant starters, and they won the series on a single off one of the best and (formerly) clutchiest relievers in baseball. The Angels won with a young lineup, good defense and a hitting attack based on a high batting average, and they won a shootout of a series. The Marlins' distinguishing characteristics were speed and relatively young pitching. What do these teams have in common? 1) They were pretty good teams (but what playoff team isn't?) and 2) They won. That's really it. They won in dramatically different ways.

The A's have lost with tremendous front of the rotation pitching, and with a slugging team in the past and a mediocre offensive team with great defense last year. Who should they have emulated? The old D-backs team? That didn't work in 2002 or 2003. The singles-no-walks team? That didn't work in 2001 or 2003. The speedy, young pitching team? That didn't work in 2001 or 2002.

So, what factor is Beane missing that causes playoff success? Your claims that it's baserunning (you really don't know how much Beane emphasizes baserunning, and there have been years when that "problem" didn't hurt them, right? Can you really show us that Tejada or Byrnes is generally a bad baserunner? AND that the A's in general have been a bad baserunning team every year they've been in the playoffs, and that bad baserunning teams generally don't win the series?) and scouting (I presume you don't really know anything about the A's advance scouting, do you?) are grasping at straws.

I agree with whomever said that when a team loses in the playoffs like this, they should try to find out if something's wrong. But if nothing can be found, then it's absurd to try and invent a reason, especially since lots of different kinds of teams, with lots of different strengths and weaknesses, win the World Series.
   221. Charlie Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:19 PM (#490032)
There is also enough solid evidence that without Alderson's contribution of the big 3, that the A's are the Brewers.

Not to rehash this argument again, but 1) any team would be worse without its three best players, 2) actually the evidence indicates that the A's would still be decent without the big 3, 3) Beane was at least partially responsible for acquiring those guys, 4) he was at least partially responsible for developing them and 5) he was responsible for inking them to favorable contracts.
   222. Danny Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:21 PM (#490033)
Draft guys that can defend their position rather than just sit up with the bat on their shoulder getting walks from weaker positions. You've seen evidence about how the A's tank it in the important games. Is it luck to make that many errors, and give up that many unearned runs?

Please tell me which of the A's are in the lineup for their bat and not their glove. Here were the A's 9 starters from last year: Hernandez, Hatteberg, Ellis, Chavez, Tejada, Long, SIngleton, and Dye.

There is also enough solid evidence that without Alderson's contribution of the big 3, that the A's are the Brewers.

Of course you know that Alderson was working in the league office, not with the A's, when Mulder and Zito were drafted, right?

Is it luck to lose nine in a row.

They haven't lost 9 in a row. They've lost 9 "clinching" games in a row. Have you ever heard someone bring up the stat of "clinching" games last year? Of course not, do you know why? It's because it's a garbage statistic that happens to show just how unlucky the A's have been.

If they are the worst team ever in clinching games, then they are truly dominant in non-clinching playoff games, going 8-3.

Yet every stathead worth his salt will say "Beane never said crapshoot. That was Lewis or somebody else;" just like they use to say, "Voros never said pitchers had no ability to effect hits on balls in play."

You back this up by referencing one person. Do you realize how many threads there have been on Primer discussing Beane's "crapshoot" comments? I don't know if I'm worth my salt, but I think Beane was certainly right. Check out post #136 for the dictionary definitions of "crapshoot" and tell us why those are wrong.

Since the playoffs expanded to 3 rounds in 1995, the team with the best regular season record in MLB has won the World Series just once out of 9 times. Why do you think this is? Have they all been "fundamentally flawed?"
   223. Charlie Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:34 PM (#490035)
Hey number 411, I agree with what you're saying, but that probably isn't the best way to argue with this person. This person already strongly and irrationally hates all things that seem sabermetric and thinks that everyone that agrees with anything Bill James has ever said has a weak mind. This person obviously thinks he or she is on the moral high ground when someone attacks him or her "anonymously" (never mind that "backlasher" is not anyone's real name), so it's probably best not to give him/her ammo like that.
   224. Charlie Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:40 PM (#490036)
Just tell us where the A's went wrong specifically.

I'll tell you where: the A's haven't won because there's something wrong with them. And there's something wrong with them because they haven't won.
   225. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 04:41 PM (#490037)
Well recent examples are the Braves and Yankees. I think both of them did win a playoff series, and I don't think either of them had to wait five years to do it.

Why don't you do a bit of research yourself. See if you can find any team that over the span of five years with the same GM has lost nine clinching games in a row or four playoff series in a row. The more I think about it that way, the more damning it is to Beane. He manages to get into the playoffs in an era where getting into playoffs are easier (a bunch of pansy wild cards) and he can't finish the deal. In any other he would have done what, made the playoffs once, twice or zero times.

I hope his personal life ends on better notes.

"Is it luck to lose nine in a row"

Yes.


Showing me why you think other teams won does not show how its luck to lose nine in a row, especially when the other team actually wins.

I don't know what Beane teaches, I just know how the A's execute. I also know what he comes out and says in public. Maybe if he put the spreadsheet down and looked at some baseball things, he would do better. However, I think the burden is on him to do better.

You've haven't been paying much attention to the A's, have you?

I've paid attention that they lost four playoff series in a row. I've paid attention to one dimensional players like Jeremy Giambi. I've paid attention to the A's passing on better prospects to draft fat guys that put up good college OBPs. I've paid attention to Beane wimpering like a baby that he doesn't have money, when his franchise is one of the 10 highest rank. I've paid attention to a run dominated by players acquired by Alderson. I've paid attention to his pitchers getting in bar fights before important games.

If Beane has put the spreadsheet down and concentrated on baseball, then good for him. I also don't think that Beane has ever used DRIPS, so I don't think this lends to the fringe sabermetric causes. The only teams that seem to value DRIPS either acquire bad pitchers or pitchers that most people want anyway.

Who should they have emulated?

I don't think they should emulate anybody. They should do their own thing; however, if their own thing has some problems, then you should correct the problems. Most importantly, when guys that you acquire that turn out to be mistakes because you use the wrong criteria, you shouldn't use that as a hallmark to your success. Giambi isn't helping them. I don't think Hatteberg is doing much either. Your method can't claim success on the people Alderson cultivated. Beane has found some good relief pitching guys off the scrap heap, but nearly as good as the Braves. If anything the A's are Braves-lite. A team that's success emulated the Braves, but made a whole bunch of mistakes in relying to heavily on fringe sabermetric garbage. When you do that, you don't need to be participating in books and walking around like your some kind of genius.

Can you really show us that Tejada or Byrnes is generally a bad baserunner?

I don't need to, I can show you that both as well as Giambi were bad baserunners in the playoffs.

Your claims that it's baserunning (you really don't know how much Beane emphasizes baserunning, and there have been years when that "problem" didn't hurt them, right?

No, a bunch of anonymous stat heads demand that you show what is wrong. Well what is wrong is ego and too firm a reliance on fringe statistics. Rather than admit this, they ask what should they do different. Baserunning appears to be one of many things. I don't know, that is something Beane and the rest of the saber junkies should be asking themselves in a non-rhetorical way. "Instead of, our theory is right, because I can show the A's choking can happen 1 out of 512 times, they should be saying, ok were did we screw up."

scouting (I presume you don't really know anything about the A's advance scouting, do you?) are grasping at straws.

All I know is that the scouting budget seems to be cut, and Beane's demeanor shows he's disrespectful of his scouts. Of course, that could be just Lewis. I'm sure Beane is the nicest guy you'd ever meet. I'm sure back when he was an egotistical jock, he never made fun of people without social graces, and I'm sure now he never diminishes anybody who he believes he's smarter than.

But if nothing can be found, then it's absurd to try and invent a reason

So your saying that sabermetricians have exhaustingly studied the problem from an objective point of view and found that nothing could be done different. All the non-sabermetricians that point to things that can be done different are idiots, and we shouldn't even listen to them because they probably don't even know how to calculate DRIPS. Well as Steve Treder would say, it certainly looks like you are engaged in an objective search for the truth.

btw Steve- Are you going to comment on the inthread people supporting your point of view or do your lectures in morality only go to those who oppose your point of view. I really want to see you call somebody to task in near time. It certainly would make your lectures look better than Billy Swaggart talking about lust.
   226. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2004 at 05:00 PM (#490039)
Steve....

I'm at work and don't have the time to go into much detail now, but one disagreement right off the bat I'd have is your use of regular season wins as the key determinant of team strength. I think that if you looked at the Vegas odds, or (in the real old days) newspaper accounts of gambling odds, you'd find that in a large number of cases there was a clear betting favorite even when the regular season wins were quite close. And that team won a lot more than 60% of the time. Regular season wins disguise many things: relative league strength; concentration of talent in the first three spots in the rotation; injuries; one team coasting after an early clinching, just to name four obvious factors. Heretical as it may seem, I'd argue that the gambling odds on any given series are a much better predictor of a team's likely success than the narrow formula that Beane proclaims.

I don't want to rehash the argument about whether the regular season or the postseason is a truer test of a team's real strength. That's too theological a question, and it's been gone over repeatedly by both sides. I'm only saying that if Beane had used his 10%-15% boundaries and taken them to his bookie for the past 101 years, he would have been absolutely crushed. I'm not trying to make any broader point about luck, random chance, or the virtues or vanities of Billy Beane. I think that Beane himself is unfairly maligned for the A's playoff problems, which I'd blame more on Mike Mussina and Tim Hudson than Beane.
   227. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 05:16 PM (#490040)
It's because it's a garbage statistic that happens to show just how unlucky the A's have been.

See that's the great thing about sabermetrics. If something disproves your point, its garbage. Moreover, it actually proves your point. The A's losing 9 in a row is evidence of bad luck. If they lose 100 in a row, it means their luck is of Shleprock proportions. Hey, if luck is that important, maybe some of the budget should be spent on horseshoes.

Also, some statistics that actually show something can be dismissed as garbage, and some statistics, which don't show anything like DRIPS can get hailed as revolutionary.

I tell you what, if I publish something where I divide a couple of numbers together, and pray at the altar of Billy Beane, can I become a saber hero. Can I become like Rob Neyer (which according to Rob's column is what ever sabermetrician wants to be).

If they are the worst team ever in clinching games, then they are truly dominant in non-clinching playoff games, going 8-3

And Brad Komminsk was dominant in minor league baseball.

Since the playoffs expanded to 3 rounds in 1995, the team with the best regular season record in MLB has won the World Series just once out of 9 times. Why do you think this is? Have they all been "fundamentally flawed?"

How many playoff series have they won? What is their record in playoff clinching games?

This person obviously thinks he or she is on the moral high ground when someone attacks him or her "anonymously" (never mind that "backlasher" is not anyone's real name), so it's probably best not to give him/her ammo like that.

I'm not one and done, and its Treder that argues from morality.

Are you going to admonish anybody in this thread that supports your point of view, Backlasher?

I love this sentence for name guy. I must admit, you are my favorite sabermetrician because unlike Neyer, you can be witty.

Nevertheless, I think Kevin Cook and RossCw are the only people who have enough independent thought to dare question the holy sabermetric religion or the scriptures of McCracken. Neither have committed any wrong that I have pointed out. Treder is the only person that seems to think this is some kind of divine mission, who gauges the relative merits of contribution and argues from morality. When his like-minded comrades in arms commit worse sins, he doesn't say a word. When he himself says, "Goldman Rocks!" he thinks this is distinguishable from "Goldman is wrong." He keeps you at an arms distance, by claiming some lack of agreement in your party line, but he's quick to defend it when the weaker of your lot just throw out bad arguments.

Obviously, there is enough backlash to bring Goldman to a call to arms, yet on this thread, only three people agree with the counter point. Noooo there is no groupthink on Primer. Charlie, Treder, et. al. all come up with the same conclusion that nine in a row is luck and all defend it with weak statistical arguments based on some deeper truth in science.

I'll tell you where: the A's haven't won because there's something wrong with them. And there's something wrong with them because they haven't won.

That's a nice place to start. Now if you realize the other flaws in the sabermetric theories used by Beane, and you recognize the value that baseball professionals bring to the table, you may be able to (1) correct the problems with the A's (2) shed yourself of your dependence on sabermetric thought and (3) join the post-sabermetric revolution that leaves behind such bad ventures as those made by Neyer and McCracken.

But I don't care about other teams if they support my Luddite approach to the game!

Do sabermetricians care about the Braves, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Angels that show you don't have to follow their spreadsheets to make the playoffs and WIN PLAYOFF SERIES.

You back this up by referencing one person.

I gave you a whole thread of people doing this with Voros. Well that's not what Voros said, he said .... Until somebody poses a link that shows THIS IS WHAT VOROS said. If you want to know whether people are saying this, you can do your own search. What you do have in this very thread is some saber-drone starting to rewrite Beane's on words because his position is indefensible. 1/512 is not a crapshoot in any definition, at best that is a lottery. More to the point, its certainly evidence indicating a problem. I imagine that Neifi Perez has a better than 1/512 chance of getting a base hit when he pinch hits, yet I'm sure the saber-goons will boo and hiss when his number is called. They think that an increase of 2% is worth making another decision. It seems like a lot better than 2% increase from 1/512 is possible. But I know that's a junk stat because it doesn't support your scripture.
   228. Charlie Posted: April 10, 2004 at 05:24 PM (#490042)
Showing me why you think other teams won does not show how its luck to lose nine in a row, especially when the other team actually wins.

Again: the A's didn't lose nine in a row. That is simply a very convenient, made up stat. And showing what other teams have done is a way of showing that there's no blueprint for winning in the playoffs. The same trick can be done with the World Series losers to show that no one characteristic unites them, other than 1) losing and 2) having a pretty good team. You just have to have a good team, and have some things break your way.

I don't know what Beane teaches, I just know how the A's execute.

... in nine clinching games of the playoffs. Yes, we know.

I've paid attention that they lost four playoff series in a row. I've paid attention to one dimensional players like Jeremy Giambi.

Brad Fullmer. Tim Salmon. Juan Pierre. Lots of winning teams have flawed players.

I've paid attention to the A's passing on better prospects to draft fat guys that put up good college OBPs.

Irrelevant, since no one from that draft class (2002) on any team has played in the playoffs yet.

I've paid attention to Beane wimpering like a baby that he doesn't have money, when his franchise is one of the 10 highest rank.

What?! In case you haven't noticed, Beane doesn't have any money.

I've paid attention to a run dominated by players acquired by Alderson.

I thought you said the A's rode in on the backs of the big 3, at least two of whom were not drafted by Alderson.

I've paid attention to his pitchers getting in bar fights before important games.

Oh, that's what the problem is. Behavior issues? Is that what you're claiming now? This is getting ridiculous.

If Beane has put the spreadsheet down and concentrated on baseball, then good for him. I also don't think that Beane has ever used DRIPS, so I don't think this lends to the fringe sabermetric causes.

Translation: Beane doesn't know how to build a clutchy, series-winning team, but he also doesn't use DIPS, so sabermetrics is wrong.

The only teams that seem to value DRIPS either acquire bad pitchers or pitchers that most people want anyway.

But the A's must not use DIPS, because their pitchers are good. Right?

Giambi isn't helping them.

I guess that's technically true. Guys who play in the Dodgers and Yankees systems are not helping the A's.

I don't think Hatteberg is doing much either.

So?

If anything the A's are Braves-lite.

I don't see how a team that has won more games in the past several years than the Braves can be called Braves-lite, especially since the Braves haven't had the magic clutchy gifts to win the title during that period. Also, the A's payroll is about half that of the Braves; if they really WERE Braves lite, that in itself would be an accomplishment.

When you do that, you don't need to be participating in books and walking around like your some kind of genius.

Beane didn't participate in a book, he was the subject of a book. And how do you know how he "walks around"?

I don't need to, I can show you that both as well as Giambi were bad baserunners in the playoffs.

1) one mistake does not a bad baserunner make, not even in the playoffs and 2) if they're not generally bad baserunners (Giambi, I'll grant you, is a bad baserunner, but not the other two until I see evidence), how was Beane supposed to know they'd magically turn into pumpkins in the playoffs?

Baserunning appears to be one of many things (they do differently).

Because of two or three playoff mistakes?

I don't know, that is something Beane and the rest of the saber junkies should be asking themselves in a non-rhetorical way. "Instead of, our theory is right, because I can show the A's choking can happen 1 out of 512 times, they should be saying, ok were did we screw up."

How do you know they haven't asked this and honestly not found anything? You haven't found anything; and when you're challenged on the things you say the A's did wrong, your position suddenly changes and expands. Now it's pitchers in barfights.

All I know is that the scouting budget seems to be cut, and Beane's demeanor shows he's disrespectful of his scouts.

And now it's Beane's demeanor that's the problem.

So your saying that sabermetricians have exhaustingly studied the problem from an objective point of view and found that nothing could be done different.

I'm not sure if the "problem" has been studied "exhaustively," but it has been approached from lots of different angles (and DePodesta may have done studies we don't even know about), and nothing consistent comes up. Given that the A's have lost for different on-field reasons every time, that the A's have sent different types of teams to the playoffs, that different sorts of teams tend to win and lose every year, and that underdogs often seem to win, isn't it more likely that there's nothing mystical about it, that it's just statistical variation?

All the non-sabermetricians that point to things that can be done different are idiots, and we shouldn't even listen to them because they probably don't even know how to calculate DRIPS. Well as Steve Treder would say, it certainly looks like you are engaged in an objective search for the truth.

Not every random suggestion is a smart one, if that's what you mean. And I think it's funny that these things that can be done different are always brought up after the fact.

I don't mean to make fun of you, sorry.
   229. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: April 10, 2004 at 05:55 PM (#490045)
Backlasher, do you think what you're doing isn't sabremetrics? It seems like it to me. Sabremetrics is the scientific method applied to baseball. It doesn't have to be all, or even much, number crunching. It's asking questions, looking for reasons, testing implications.

If you admit that (1) the saber personalities are rude; (2) scouting is important; (3) there is a difference in the post season and the regular season, then you are only a couple of steps away from releasing yourself from your saber dependency. If you recognize the true utility of many of these numbers like DRIPS, you'll be close to home.

I really don't see that these points are telling against what I think of as sabermetics. Looking for the "true utility" of metrics is a large part of the business.

I think threads like this are great. This IS what sabremetrics is all about.
   230. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 06:02 PM (#490046)
Again: the A's didn't lose nine in a row.

I must have been asleep when the A's won a playoff clinching game. Do you have a link to that sabersheet box score to the game. Or did they just win a pythagorean game, or a DRIPS game, instead of a baseball game?

And showing what other teams have done is a way of showing that there's no blueprint for winning in the playoffs.

Showing that their is different paths to success to the World Series certainly proves that the A's path, which hasn't won the world series, is the right one. I miss the logic in this one. Yes, you can find some differences with world series winners, but the one difference you won't find is one that was built around a sabermetric philosophy.
   231. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 06:28 PM (#490047)
The A's have won the Wild Card one time

Or stated in the alternative, the A's haven't won their division but two times in a row. Moreover, they would not have won their pennant four times in a row. Yet, they still have lost four playoff series in a row. So I think that pretty well supports that their 4 playoff appearances may not be as unique as implied, and their 0-9 record in playoff clinching games is unprecedented. But since the statistics say this will happen 1 out of 512 times, this is affirmative proof that they have bad luck--cursed I say.

Backlasher, do you think what you're doing isn't sabremetrics?

Yes, because as I explained in my first post, charlatans like McCracken, and ego driven writers like Neyer, have narrowly defined sabermetrics into an us versus them; we're smart, they're idiots camp. That's what this Goldman piece is all about.

Despite my detractors that would claim that I have an irrational hatred for James, you have to admit the guy did contribute something to the understanding of baseball. However, you have to look beyond mere statistical analysis, and you have to objective to truly seek information. That is post-sabermetric thought.

If everything was as Treder claims, that sabermetrics is just the search for the truth, and my thoughts were truly sabermetric, then Joe Morgan, Allard Baird, John Scheurholtz are also sabermetricians. You can't claim any success as your own and throw out the bad stuff as everybody elses.

If you don't want to call Beane, Riccardi, Neyer, and Voros do sabermetrics, then fine give it a name. The bad stuff they do is what I'm against, and the growling of we're better than them mentality that permeates this site is what I'm against.

What actually got me into this post-sabermetric thought was watching the insightfulness of someone like Ross. Over the last two to three years, he's been posting pretty much some consistent critiques. From day one, he's been called all kinds of names by the weak minded. Even your stronger thinkers like Treder take some kind of moral high ground and refuse to talk with him. Your other heros, like Walk Davis, will start with faulty premises like DRIPS, and post some conclusions that even a child can see is faulty.

Yet over the years, Ross has been proven correct. Gradually holes began developing in DRIPS. Most of the time, people will claim that the holes were never there, even though Ross showed them to people years ago. Real scientists like Tango will prove the value of some outcomes like groundouts versus strikeouts, and it will either go unnoticed or Ross will not get any credit for showing how the bad math didn't lead to the obviously perceptable correct conclusion. People will show studies on the effect of productive outs, etc. but the band plays on. In fact, if you go back two years ago, I'm not sure you can find an assertion by Ross that was not later proven to be correct.

I'm sure that James has said some wrong things, but I have not pointed out a single one in this thread. I've talked about fringe statistics like WARP, and valueless statistics like DRIPS. I've talked about the problems in using fringe and valueless statistics in place of expert opinion, yet Charlie wants to portray me as anti-sabermetric, and Steve Treder wants all his fans to believe he takes a moral high ground.

Instead, its their belief system that is creating assinine positions, such as Goldman Rocks or the A's are a victim of bad luck. They can't get their own gods of mathematics to bail them out. Not one of them has yet shown the value of DRIPS or shown how the 1 in 512 outcome points to luck, but they still want to attack sub-points in every post to feel vindicated. They still want to take away some personal satisfaction because somebody that posted to the same internet site as them; and many will gush all overthemselves if the Great Neyer mentions their name in his statgeek column.

If they want to advance baseball knowledge, then come out here and show me what DRIPS can do that could not be done before in a better way. If they don't believe pointing out garbage is useful in evaluating baseball methods, then their own value equation is flawed.
   232. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: April 10, 2004 at 06:40 PM (#490048)
If you don't want to call Beane, Riccardi, Neyer, and Voros do sabermetrics, then fine give it a name.

Why do they need a different name? They're looking for truth, too. If you think they're wrong, that doesn't mean they're not looking.

Joe Morgan's full of cliche. It's exactly the resistance to grizzled opinion absent evidence that makes me appreciate sabermetrics. But I don't have a problem identifying sabermetric elements in Baird and Schuerholz.

"Goldman Rocks" isn't a position. It's an exclamation. It's a throwaway comment; it's not a foundational principle or anything.

Ross sometimes looks very sabermetrical, and I'm glad he's here just as I'm glad you are. Ross has a major problem with the principle of charity (by which I mean he tends to read his interlocutors in the way to make their statements false rather than true). And he tends to avoid direct answers to telling points. (Although this is a problem all around.) But, in large, Ross reinforces my beliefs in sabermetric conclusions, because I think he's smart and he's trying his hardest to disprove them. And failing.

BUT--you don't have to agree with me and disagree with Ross to want to know more baseball truth. What we're doing right now is sabermetrics. Maybe meta-sabermetrics. We should have foundational principles challenged, so that we know why we hold them, or drop them when unsupported.
   233. AJMcCringleberry Posted: April 10, 2004 at 06:53 PM (#490049)
Again: the A's didn't lose nine in a row.

I must have been asleep when the A's won a playoff clinching game. Do you have a link to that sabersheet box score to the game. Or did they just win a pythagorean game, or a DRIPS game, instead of a baseball game?


They DIDN'T lose nine in a row, they lost nine series clinching games in a row. It's a stupid stat, like when ESPN says so and so is 8-0 on Sundays. And to lose nine series clinching games in a row they had to win two other games. Are they games they won not indicative of their talent, but the games they lost are?
   234. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 06:58 PM (#490050)
Why do they need a different name? They're looking for truth, too. If you think they're wrong, that doesn't mean they're not looking.

Because as a class, which includes many other members, I do take offense at their hubris, and they all participate in systematic wrongs. Many primates and self-styled sabermetricians are also members of this class. Its neither efficient, prudent, or morally madated to spend four hours collecting the names of every offender particularly when your opponents in the argument are so willing to refer to their opposition as a class.

You personally can call this class anything you want. For better or worse, the world is calling it sabermetrics, and for better or worse, these people are you spokesman. I could care less what Voros does with his spreadsheets, but it does become a pain, when to even engage in a conversation about baseball, you have to show why he's wrong to the nth degree to even get to a decent discussion.

Ross has a major problem with the principle of charity (by which I mean he tends to read his interlocutors in the way to make their statements false rather than true). And he tends to avoid direct answers to telling points.

Ross is big enough to talk for himself. I happen to like his posts, and it was germaine to our discussion to tell you that. I disagree with some of your opinions, but I'll let Ross talk about Ross.

We should have foundational principles challenged, so that we know why we hold them, or drop them when unsupported.

Great, but your going to have a hard time doing that. You see Baseball Primer has this new registration system coming. Most of the Primer authorities think like Steve, so its going to be difficult to get anything challenged. Even today, its hard because there are so many bogus arguments that are thrown out there, and there is an intentional deflection of any criticism. Have you noticed that no sabermetrician has shown where DRIPS provides any insight in over 400 posts. Instead they would rather demand proof that so-and-so said something about Beane. Have you noticed, that Treder is not even defending his morality. If the argument gets to close, he'll tell you how he's tired of talking about it or he's going to ignore you. (I don't know if you realize that Steve will not even respond to Ross because he thinks Ross is beneath him.) Its far easier to dismiss criticisms as trolls than really try to talk about the issue.

Instead the new Primer will be a bunch of people patting themselves on the back. In the words of another, this site will be filled with "hagiographies on Bonds, Goldman, McCracken, and Beane." I hope you like that; I hope that helps you find your search for the truth. Your motiviations seem pure, and you aren't showing that faux-open-mindedness that many will exhibit just to promote their own moral superiority.
   235. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 07:05 PM (#490052)
It's a stupid stat, like when ESPN says so and so is 8-0 on Sundays. And to lose nine series clinching games in a row they had to win two other games. Are they games they won not indicative of their talent, but the games they lost are?

Of course, it doesn't support your point of view so its a stupid stat. After all, playoff games are just as much the same as days of the week. No team changes their personnel utilization when facing elimination. They approach every game the same whether its game 41 of the regular season or if its a game that ends their season.

Is losing 4 playoff series in a row a stupid stat. Is 10 unearned runs a stupid stat. Are the only non stupid stats DRIPS and WARP factor?

If not, I'm curious, did the A's win the DRIPS and WARP factor championship. Did Bill James give them a big trophy. Did George W. Bush call them on the phone, or did Baseball Primer just have a congratulatory thread.

If they didn't, is there some way they can improve their DRIPS or WARP factor? Or do DRIPS and WARP factor have just as much luck involved as meaningless stats like Runs, Wins, and Losses.
   236. AJMcCringleberry Posted: April 10, 2004 at 07:14 PM (#490054)
Way to dodge the question, backlasher.
   237. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: April 10, 2004 at 07:18 PM (#490055)
Why do they need a different name? They're looking for truth, too. If you think they're wrong, that doesn't mean they're not looking.

Because as a class, which includes many other members, I do take offense at their hubris, and they all participate in systematic wrongs.


This is a not a reason they aren't sabermetricians or need another name. It sounds like you just got your feelings hurt somewhere. You'll broaden the horizon of your experiences if you can learn look past attitude to content. Note, though, that received wisdom doesn't come down easily, and sometimes snarkiness is the proper response to a refusal to question your assumptions.

I just listened to Tracy Ringolsby defend his anti-Moneyball stance, and he was certainly offensive and snarky to those that disagreed with him. (Wait, does that make him a sabermetrician?) Never mind.

I said I like having Ross here. Some of the best statements of sound sabermetric principles have come in direct response to him.

I disagree that Primer hasn't been willing to challenge received notions. I think we're in the middle of that right now, for instance. The most frequent contributors tend to agree on method, so the frequency of such events is probably rare. But don't take every smart ass comment as core sabermetics.

Are you willing to talk about some basic sabermetric ideas? How about the idea that winning games is what it's all about, and scoring more runs than your opponent is the only way to do that. As a consequences, the more directly a statistic correlates or explains runs scoring or prevention, the more important it is. Batting average turns out to be a poor explainer. This was certainly a surprise to me when I saw the numbers for the first time, but further evidence outweighed my initial resistance. Is this obvious to you? False? Or is this an acceptable part of sabermetrics? Is this interesting to you? What if we promise not to exude hubris on you?
   238. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 07:19 PM (#490056)
I also said that statheads say that Beane didn't say "crapshoot."

Your right, Dr. Fever, nobody has ever said it was Michael Lewis. I'm sure the Primer authors will delete the earlier post in this very thread.

I thought you said the A's rode in on the backs of the big 3, at least two of whom were not drafted by Alderson.

That was then and this is now!


Ok, I'm willing to admit I was wrong if you show me that I'm wrong. From the top of my head, the A's players that were present for the whole run were:

Tejeda
   239. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: April 10, 2004 at 07:21 PM (#490057)
Why do they need a different name? They're looking for truth, too. If you think they're wrong, that doesn't mean they're not looking.

Because as a class, which includes many other members, I do take offense at their hubris, and they all participate in systematic wrongs.


This is a not a reason they aren't sabermetricians or need another name. It sounds like you just got your feelings hurt somewhere. You'll broaden the horizon of your experiences if you can learn look past attitude to content. Note, though, that received wisdom doesn't come down easily, and sometimes snarkiness is the proper response to a refusal to question your assumptions.

I just listened to Tracy Ringolsby defend his anti-Moneyball stance, and he was certainly offensive and snarky to those that disagreed with him. (Wait, does that make him a sabermetrician?) Never mind.

I said I like having Ross here. Some of the best statements of sound sabermetric principles have come in direct response to him.

I disagree that Primer hasn't been willing to challenge received notions. I think we're in the middle of that right now, for instance. The most frequent contributors tend to agree on method, so the frequency of such events is probably rare. But don't take every smart ass comment as core sabermetics.

Are you willing to talk about some basic sabermetric ideas? How about the idea that winning games is what it's all about, and scoring more runs than your opponent is the only way to do that. As a consequences, the more directly a statistic correlates or explains runs scoring or prevention, the more important it is. Batting average turns out to be a poor explainer. This was certainly a surprise to me when I saw the numbers for the first time, but further evidence outweighed my initial resistance. Is this obvious to you? False? Or is this an acceptable part of sabermetrics? Is this interesting to you? What if we promise not to exude hubris on you?
   240. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:13 PM (#490063)
I like Backslasher - he sometimes swings wildly but he often hits the mark. This is one of his misses:

So it's come to that, has it?
   241. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:18 PM (#490065)
Steve responded to Ross ad nauseum. Check the archives, troll-man.

Steve Treder has repeatedly said that he would not respond to Ross. He's made numerous posts that says he would not respond to Ross, and if you notice he has not responded to Ross in this thread. Rather than forcing someone to search the archives, why don't you ask the man. He's not a liar, he'll tell you the truth.

Way to dodge the question, backlasher.

Which question, AJM. There are so many demands of evidence for self-evident items, I get lost.

It sounds like you just got your feelings hurt somewhere.

Yeah, there was this blond in high school that dropped me for a guy that one of those old spiral bound spreadsheets. You know we didn't have Lotus and Excel back in the dark ages. Seriously, Joshua, is it not possible to call an arrogant jerk and arrogant jerk without there being an emotional involvement.

This is a not a reason they aren't sabermetricians or need another name.

So what do you do, plead them all individually. For instance, that's the problem with Steve Treder, Walk Davis, Charlie, Rob Neyer, VorosMcCracken, Billy Beane, Backlash Fever, Craig B, Madison Searle, cheng, New Age Fat Scout.... Don't you think that would be dumb, or are you really buying into Treder's false morality arguments. I thought they had been exposed over 18 months ago.

You'll broaden the horizon of your experiences if you can learn look past attitude to content. Note, though, that received wisdom doesn't come down easily, and sometimes snarkiness is the proper response to a refusal to question your assumptions.

As I said, your heart is in the right place, but sometimes there is efficiency as well. Neyer and McCracken have long lived past being useful in any context. Treder's relentless faux-morality gets old when you have to make 100 posts to show its fundamentally flawed in every discussion.
   242. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:23 PM (#490068)
On Bizzaroworld, that is.

I hope your the one sentence guy because I like you. Only you can turn blatant sarcasm into a point for your side. You've got to come out of hiding. I only know of a handful of people on this forum that are that clever. I think I know at least one of your identities, but you save that sobriquet for the political discussions. I would love to unmask both personalities to the regular primate sobriquet.
   243. jmp Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:30 PM (#490071)
I think the most interesting thing about sabermetrics is that it encompasses so many areas, and students of sabermetrics can have almost polar opposite views on some subjects. Lets take for example the subject of the batting order. Goldman theorizes that batting people in the wrong order can lead to fewer plate appearances for superior hitters, and threw out some numbers to suggest that this coud easily cost a team a win over a season. Neyer has seen studies that show that the batting order has a negligible effect on scoring runs. I don't believe that Neyer has ever called himself a sabermetrician, but he's certainly a student of it. So even on the simplistic seeming idea of constructing the right batting order leads to different thought from 2 of the most linked writers on this website.

Lets take another example: aggreeing on when sample size is sufficient. Posters have lots of fun with "sample size police" when an impressive looking number occurs in a short period. What is the point when we have reached a sample that is large enough to be definitive? I have never seen an accepted baseline for the minimum number of plate appearances or IP before performance can be considered a player's "true value". When the threads were rocking with platoon differential, Frank Thomas showed a higher than average ability to hit left handers in something like 2000 ABs. Yet he was not acknowledged to have a defined skill to hit lefties, he was identified as an "outlier", a statistical blip.

I think another problem that newcomers have is when they encounter stats that dismiss player's abilities, things that fans can see with their own eyes. UZR dismisses lineball outs made by middle-infielders, calling them flukes. Jeter has a bizarre inability to field ground balls hit to his left, but I've seen him make his share of snags. Why should there be any confidence in a fielding metric that doesn't give credit when fielders make plays?

I'm fascinated with the sabermetric research that is happening, but I don't think that we should expect everyone to accept all things sabermetric without being able to ask probing questions without being ridiculed.
   244. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:31 PM (#490072)
I wouldn't be surprised if he now said the hell with your antics, too.

Wouldn't suprise me in the least either. I don't think he can show where DRIPS has positive utility, I don't think he can show how 1/512 is an artifact of luck. I don't think he is willing to respond to a counter-argument about his faux-morality.

One thing going for Ross, though, is that he's not you. You confuse obnoxiousness with clarity

Did you not understand something I said. Let me know what it was and I'll repeat it. I'll be sure to throw in a couple of "respectfully disagrees" if it helps advance the understanding of baseball.
   245. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:45 PM (#490073)
Backlasher/Eddie O. is a troll. There's no rational discussion to be had here. Further exasperated responses (valiant they may be) are only going to serve his purpose, which is to inflame.

Surfer,

Dude, you should become a lawyer. I'm picturing a "My Cousing Vinny" style opening where you get in front of the jury and say, "Opposing counsel is a troll. Don't listen to him, listen to me."

Tell me, it is beyond the ability to inflame for you to tell me the pragmatic application of DRIPS?
   246. jmp Posted: April 10, 2004 at 08:47 PM (#490074)
I must have missed when Neyer called Primer useless (not that it really matters whether he did or not), and I don't remember Neyer ever having an assitant. To what is this referring?
   247. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 09:06 PM (#490076)
Lets take another example: aggreeing on when sample size is sufficient. Posters have lots of fun with "sample size police" when an impressive looking number occurs in a short period. What is the point when we have reached a sample that is large enough to be definitive? I have never seen an accepted baseline for the minimum number of plate appearances or IP before performance can be considered a player's "true value". When the threads were rocking with platoon differential, Frank Thomas showed a higher than average ability to hit left handers in something like 2000 ABs. Yet he was not acknowledged to have a defined skill to hit lefties, he was identified as an "outlier", a statistical blip.

Go talk with Tango, jmp. From what I've seen he want belittle you and he'll explain the means and methods that he uses to establish both confidence intervals and decisions on when to regress. So if you are searching for true ability across a career of major league performances , he will give you a detailed work through of how to achieve this measure.

Its rare that I could argue with his assessment. Nevertheless, this will not address the questions or implied by Ross and to some degree myself: What is the players ability in this context? How should this affect our micro decisions? I honestly think he's searching for these answers and is free to admit what he doesn't know or what he hypothesizes, but does not assert as fact.

In fairness, most scouting measures will not give you this construct either. You might get "medium speed bat, trouble with sliders down and away, tendency to pull body out on fastballs." A good manager might interpolate this to "not effective against Randy Johnson" to make a micro decision. A human thought construct is more able to deal with uncertainty than an analytical model. It deals with patterns, as well as probability, and it has more instrumentation and data at its disposal.

Goldman theorizes that batting people in the wrong order can lead to fewer plate appearances for superior hitters, and threw out some numbers to suggest that this coud easily cost a team a win over a season. Neyer has seen studies that show that the batting order has a negligible effect on scoring runs.

Maybe Ross can say this better, but batting order's influence on runs will depend on the overall make up of your roster. The individual skills of the players can often determine the most efficient batting order. Its precise effect on wins is unknown prior to any season. Its precise effect on wins is unknowable after the season, but may be better approximated. In the end, as the A's well know, one win can make a big difference in your success.

I think another problem that newcomers have is when they encounter stats that dismiss player's abilities, things that fans can see with their own eyes. UZR dismisses lineball outs made by middle-infielders, calling them flukes. Jeter has a bizarre inability to field ground balls hit to his left, but I've seen him make his share of snags. Why should there be any confidence in a fielding metric that doesn't give credit when fielders make plays?

I tend to partially agree. I think MGL may be missing a skill in UZR. I've given him more benefit of the doubt than poseurs like McCracken. MGL is at least trying to use new instrumentation to arrive at better conclusions. McCracken and the rest of the combinatorics are just dividing the same numbers over and over again hoping they get some type of numeroligical mysticism. If they squeeze out a slightly better correlation result on meaningless data, they will follow with all types of assinine conclusions.

On balance, I can't say that I completely agree about Jeter. Observation tends to indicate that he does lack some skills, namely lateral movement. Jeter's "missing" skills seem to be in possesioning and overall dexterity (i.e. the line outs, the reaction time, and balance). This is probably a function of biomechanics and scouting as well, two disciplines that the combinatorists conveniently dismiss as insignificant.

I'm fascinated with the sabermetric research that is happening, but I don't think that we should expect everyone to accept all things sabermetric without being able to ask probing questions without being ridiculed.

You are new aren't you. Yes, you'll be ridiculed by the weaker of the posters. The stronger ones like Treder will give you some kind of lecture, probably on morality. Others like Davis will give you a mathematical proof (that starts with DRIPS or some other fringe combinatorics) to show you why your wrong.

If you persist on questioning, you'll invite more ridicule. Treder will get tired of you and walk away, and some of the new people will try to conduct the proof behind where Walk Davis started.

If your lucky, you'll find a Joshua (and I couple of others whose names I won't mention) that might actually engage in a real discussion. However, you may not get this in the coming weeks. The new baseball primer will likely stifle all non cheerleading content.
   248. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 09:18 PM (#490077)
I must have missed when Neyer called Primer useless (not that it really matters whether he did or not), and I don't remember Neyer ever having an assitant. To what is this referring?

Thanks for not "making me show evidence", the search engine on this site doesn't really help.

(1) Rob Neyer's assistant is a running gag. In some Neyer related thread ( I think it was after a chat), Rob said something that didn't conform to reason. A person, posting as Rob Neyer, satirized the comment. Some dude that I think works with Treder over at their new cheerleading site, posted as Rob Neyer's assistant to tell us all that the person in the previous post wasn't the real Rob Neyer. Ever since then, Rob Neyer's assistant and Rob Neyer's flannel shirt's assistant make appearances to a lesser extent but in much the same way as Admiral Ackbar. You won't get this with the new Primer, but I'm sure you'll get plenty of hardhat times articles.

(2) Back around the beginning of the year, Rob did one of his fascinating ego stroking columns. He talked about how the Braves outperformed his last year's assessments. Included was plenty of jabs about how dumb the emails were that took issue with his assessment. After that, he used the rest of the column to show that even though his assessment was wrong, it should have been right, because he used state of the art sabermetrics and most of the Braves got lucky. The first few posts did the cheerleading, "Neyer rocks, he'll admit he's wrong." After awhile, a dissent appeared that showed that his characterizations of dissenters was improper, and that his own analysis was fundamentally flawed.
   249. jmp Posted: April 10, 2004 at 10:08 PM (#490081)
If I'm thinking of the same thread, I believe that Neyer wrote something to the effect of "the comments on this site used to be about the message, and when it comes to Neyer, the comments are often about the messenger". I think that is often a true statement. I don't think that statement is the same as saying "Primer is worthless", but I understand that some people use hyberbole in their argument. Many comments made in Clutch Hits are worthless, without a doubt, but I've been exposed to many critical thoughts on baseball stragety on Clutch Hits, for which I'm grateful.
   250. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 11:27 PM (#490083)
Gil Heredia? He hasnt been on their team since 2001.

Ok, then strike one from Beane's column about the core. If your defending Beane, you might wanted to let this one stand.
   251. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 11:39 PM (#490085)
I think that is often a true statement. I don't think that statement is the same as saying "Primer is worthless"

jmp,

For accuracy sake we are both wrong, the exact phrase was pointless, if not counterproductive.

"This discussion reminds me of how the media covers politics. No, let's not focus on what the politicians are saying. Instead, let's focus on who they are and why (we think) they're saying it.

I used to enjoy reading the threads "inspired" by my columns, but somewhere in the last year or so it became pointless, if not counter-productive. Which is a little sad, though probably inevitable.

Irrelevantly yours,
   252. Kevin Cook Posted: April 10, 2004 at 11:43 PM (#490086)
It's nice to see that rational and well meant arguments about the limits of sabermetrics are dismissed because the person making them is obviously a troll with rabbit ears on his TV.

Dishonesty; decontextualized quoting; arrogant dismissal; smug playing to the crowd- an objective search for truth involves none of these things and, indeed, eschews them. Genuine scientists don't look to score points off interlocutors they imagine to be their enemies but instead look for ways to sharpen and strengthen their ideas. The really valuable posters on this site are, generally, people with a real scientific mindset who do actual work with numbers. This is not coincidence.

I note that none of Beane's defenders (and for my part I think the A's really have just had some bad breaks that slightly better scouting and/or coaching might easily clear up) have pointed to specific things that the A's might do to improve their chances in the postseason. Instead they want to call Backlasher a troll, steer the conversation towards DIPS, explain why RossCW is a troll, etc. Smug pedanticism or a search for truth?
   253. Backlasher Posted: April 10, 2004 at 11:54 PM (#490087)
I do follow the game, though I don't always get good reception with this rabbit-ear antenna on top of my TV.

Don't worry, when the new Baseball Primer arrives, you can have your study programming of "Neyer Rocks!" and "Goldman Rocks" You can have your essays on the moral bankruptness of anyone that defies sabermetrics, and you won't even have to go to the hardhat times.
   254. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 12:00 AM (#490088)
You can have your essays on the moral bankruptness of anyone that defies sabermetrics

This is funny. I've been reading Baseball Prospectus for years, and I've always found it hysterical that no one picks up on their hidden moralism. Example: the substitution of the jargon phrase "plate discipline" for the homely and effective "batting eye." (This has been picked up on by posters on this site and this small corruption of the language has made a lot of headway generally.)

"Plate discipline" certainly sounds scientifical and all, but does no one note that it consigns players who don't walk enough to some slag heap of self-abasing sin, while virtuous walkers bask in the glow of their Augustinian self-restraint?

This is especially funny given the constant railing about how "clutch hitting" beliefs are evil because they ascribe moral characteristics to players based on their athletic performance.
   255. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 12:17 AM (#490089)
the substitution of the jargon phrase "plate discipline" for the homely and effective "batting eye."

There are many such confabulations that imply even more:

"Take a walk" as if the vice of pride somehow causes a player to decide to not accept that which is freely available and helpful to the team.

"search of the truth" is a favorite of Treders. As if anyone disagreeing with DRIPS is somehow imposing a religious fundamentalism that stifles scientific inquiry.

"one run strategies" and "small ball" as if the persons trying to score a run are intentionally wasting runs for which they are entitled. I think even come right out and talk about wasting runs as if they are just there for the taking. I have never heard a sabermetrician talk about the more honorable "sacrifice."

"working the count" as if players that get a hit on the first pitch are somehow inherently lazy, instead of "getting a pitch they could hit."

Even the weaker minded primates will jump on these phrases, yet wail to the moon that someone is a troll if they dare try to use language to their advantage.
   256. Charlie Posted: April 11, 2004 at 12:42 AM (#490090)
Backlasher, I agree with the point that you and others have made that a lot of sabermetric ideas are sometimes presented to the public in an arrogant way. I can understand if that bothers you. I think that you and Ross are also right that there is still much work to be done in using saber stats in their proper context, and that scouting is an important part of that context. I also admit that there is a lot that sabermetrics can't tell us yet. I think Vince Coleman was probably not a very good player, but I admit that sabermetrics does not yet (as far as I know) do a good job of measuring the value of his skills.

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sabermetrics has introduced many ideas that can help make baseball teams better. I know that you disagree with me, but my point is not to argue specifics at this time. My point is that you aren't open to being convinced that sabermetrics has any value. The grounds of your arguments are constantly shifting - you ignore the arguments you're obviously losing, hoping to distract us from them by lobbing different and increasingly angry accusations. Your arguments are peppered with nasty generalizations about sabermetrics as a whole and about nearly anyone who's ever agreed with any statistical study on baseball. These are hallmark signs that you have some kind of unresolved issue (like Gary Huckabay stealing your girlfriend or something) that you need to work out. (Note that I'm not saying this about anyone else, just Backlasher.)

And now these last two posts!

"one run strategies" and "small ball" as if the persons trying to score a run are intentionally wasting runs for which they are entitled. I think even come right out and talk about wasting runs as if they are just there for the taking. I have never heard a sabermetrician talk about the more honorable "sacrifice."

"working the count" as if players that get a hit on the first pitch are somehow inherently lazy, instead of "getting a pitch they could hit."

Even the weaker minded primates will jump on these phrases, yet wail to the moon that someone is a troll if they dare try to use language to their advantage.


Do you realize how conspiracy-theory insane you sound?
   257. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:00 AM (#490091)
Backlasher, I agree with the point that you and others have made that a lot of sabermetric ideas are sometimes presented to the public in an arrogant way. I can understand if that bothers you. I think that you and Ross are also right that there is still much work to be done in using saber stats in their proper context, and that scouting is an important part of that context. I also admit that there is a lot that sabermetrics can't tell us yet. I think Vince Coleman was probably not a very good player, but I admit that sabermetrics does not yet (as far as I know) do a good job of measuring the value of his skills.

Ok, that's a nice starting point and a good negotiation skill.

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sabermetrics has introduced many ideas that can help make baseball teams better. I know that you disagree with me, but my point is not to argue specifics at this time. My point is that you aren't open to being convinced that sabermetrics has any value.

Well that is a specific that I disagree with. I don't think I've denied the value of some of James work. I think I even post its most useful construct. I think I started this by talking about the value of integrating knowledge, and I think I have praised the people like Tango and to some degree MGL that are trying to do real work. I am open to be convinced that DRIPS has some value or that Neyer has some value, but I'm skeptical that you can provide any proof that either is the case. If you do, and I don't roll over, but instead engage you on proof, that's not being ideological steadfast, that's being inquisitive.

The grounds of your arguments are constantly shifting - you ignore the arguments you're obviously losing, hoping to distract us from them by lobbing different and increasingly angry accusations.

Which arguments am I ignoring or losing Charlie. I'll be happy to address them.

That's another problem in primer-land. I am getting about 6 to 1 rebuttal on my post, your getting about 2 to 1. Your 2 to 1 is tightly focused. My 6 to 1 is all over the place. Some things demand more to say than others. I'm not all over the place in any regard. If I don't respond, you'll claim I'm ignoring arguments. I think I've responded to all of them, and I even asked AJM which one I'm negligent on. I keep hearing I'm ignoring arguments, but nobody is telling me what I ignore. I'm not going to right a treatise on everything that's wrong with the A's. That's a journal article style piece. I may think of many different things in counter arguments.

I'm not trying to distract you from anything. Post away. I don't think you can and will respond to most of my more directed questions, but I'll still answer yours unless your aim is to send me on a wild goose choose for irrelavant evidence.

Your arguments are peppered with nasty generalizations about sabermetrics as a whole and about nearly anyone who's ever agreed with any statistical study on baseball.

My arguments are nasty toward sabermetrics as proposed by Neyer and McCracken and has been constantly shown on this site. I have no disdain for someone like Joshua. I do have disdain for the combinatorists and ego-driven lot.

These are hallmark signs that you have some kind of unresolved issue (like Gary Huckabay stealing your girlfriend or something) that you need to work out. (Note that I'm not saying this about anyone else, just Backlasher.)

The only one that would have likely stolen a girlfriend would have been Michael Wolverton, I can see some lady liking the name Wolverton and writing "Mrs. Michael Wolverton" over and over on her notebook (Do kids still have notebooks or do they all use laptops now?). My only issue know is that I have to kill some time, and this is a good a place as any.

Do you realize how conspiracy-theory insane you sound?

Really, when did a discussion on rhetoric or the change in language rise to paranoia. Do you deny that such terms have been adopted by the literary saber folks? Besides I was talking with Kevin Cook on his point. I'm not throwing this out as prima facie evidence of anything. Treder's false moralization speaks for itself.
   258. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:04 AM (#490092)
I don't think that post sounds insane. People express themselves in language, and that language reveals their hidden premeses and assumptions. The examples Backlasher gave are good examples of this; I gave one above. "Pitcher abuse" is another- does anyone really think that Dusty Baker leaving Mark Prior out for an extra inning has anything in common with a drug abuser smoking crack, or a child abuser hitting his son?

It's alright to use loaded terms, but no one should act surprised if they use them and are then called out for it.
   259. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:15 AM (#490094)
Sabermetrics has introduced many ideas that can help make baseball teams better.

Is this so? I think sabermetrics, by studying the record of the past, could far more accurately be said to have divined how teams have best made themselves better. Many sabermetricians have made compelling arguments for the return of the four-man rotation, for instance; this is not a new idea but a plea for baseball men to return to an idea they came up with and which they abandoned.

Sabermetrics is to baseball as criticism is to fiction. Unfortunately, like the literary academics who see fiction as grist for their criticism, many sabermetricians now think that baseball exists to provide grist for the analytical mill, and believe that they have invented that which they have merely noticed.
   260. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:18 AM (#490095)
many sabermetricians now think that baseball exists to provide grist for the analytical mill, and believe that they have invented that which they have merely noticed.

FWIW, that was very well said.
   261. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:23 AM (#490096)
Thank you.
   262. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:39 AM (#490099)
Thank you, Backlasher.

Here's an example of the sort of thing that bothers me. This is
   263. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:40 AM (#490101)
Baseball is not quantifiable either, except on so macro a level that the analysis becomes either worthless numerology or obvious post-hoc justification.
   264. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:42 AM (#490102)
Literary works are in no way quantifiable entities, unless you are going to do statistical work on the number of words and such. To compare literary criticism to basball analysis is worse than comparing apples and oranges; at least they are both fruit. Though It should be noted the attempt would be equally fruity.

Baseball is not quantifiable either, except on so macro a level that the results are either worthless numerology or obvious post-hoc justifications.
   265. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:52 AM (#490105)
I suppose I will be called heretical for saying baseball is not quantifiable. It is, I suppose, on the level that you can say "Dave Ballplayer had 200 hits last year." But that 200 is just a number, a record of specific situations. It doesn't tell you the value of those hits; it doesn't record the situations in which they occurred; it doesn't tell you anything of specific predictive value that might be applied to a particular situation; it is not self-generated, but the result of selective intelligence being applied to its opportunity context; etc, etc, etc. Of course statistics have their use and value; I used statistics above to demonstrate why I'm unimpressed by John Stephens. But in truth, baseball stats tell us very little and our use of them is a social convention, a polite fiction. The various numerological structures that are built upon stats like H, R, BB, HR, etc., are almost wholly worthless except insofar as they are broadly indicative of patterns and useful in arguing over whether one player was better than another within a given timeframe.
   266. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 01:57 AM (#490106)
This misses the point entirely:

"Literary works are in no way quantifiable entities,"


Baseball=not quantifiable.

Literary works=not quantifiable.

Sabermetrics=evaluation of the unquantifiable, judgements rendered on it.

Criticism=evaluation of the unquantifiable, judgments rendered on it.

I'm sorry I can't draw a picture, the site's software won't let me.
   267. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:06 AM (#490108)
Did the original Except post as as Except that...? Because then my post #483 would make sense. If it was someone criticizinf Except, it would make none. I'm confused.

Anyway, no, you try again. You think sabermetricians are funky with numbers? Check out one of the Army's statistical analyses of a battle or a war sometime. Check out a high-end wargame designer's simulation programs sometime. You think war is quanitifiable by the amount of materiel expended, ground gained, sorties flown, percentage of bad-weather sorties that resulted in tactical gains, etc? You think war is quantifiable at all? Baseball isn't either.
   268. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:12 AM (#490109)
Something is quantifiable is you can measure it. Since it is possible to imagine two baseball players in the same park, in the same league, in the same year and facing the same opposition posting exactly similar statistics and having tremendously different values or shapes of value (ie, one's hits always drove in runs, the other's didn't, or one could hit only sliders down and in and the other curves out over the plate), they aren't measuring anything specific.

Now that's radical, nearly nihilistic, skepticism. But it's a hell of a lot closer to the truth than pretending that reality is captured in neat columns of numbers.
   269. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:23 AM (#490111)
The number of events was 20, not 4.

No, the amount of series was 4, not 20.

In other words, if you toss a coin 20 times, what's the probablity you will get heads 8 times?

Baseball games aren't coin tosses. Comparing something to a coin toss presupposes a static series of influences. In elimination games (since the issue is more why the A's have lost 9 straight of those than why they've lost 4 series in a row), key pitchers will stay in longer, managers will be quicker to make tactical subsitutions, etc. There is also greater pressure to succeed, which may alter how some players play. This is assuming that there's a 50/50 chance of each team winning, which is untrue even if the teams are of equal talent: there is home field advantage to consider, as well as access to information, the possibility that one team is gaining an edge by cheating, etc. Of course luck factors in as well, but baseball games are about as similar to coin tossing as dwarf tossing.
   270. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:27 AM (#490112)
And that's just from looking at his numbers! The Orioles have pro scouts, who might have told them any number of things that influenced their decision. But the person who posted this is not only blind to the fact the Orioles, with more information than he had, decided there was something about Stephens that made him not worth keeping: he ignores the fact that Stephens' record is only superficially impressive because of his dominance of 19-year old kids. This is pure ideology, and it's the sort of thing there is too much of.

I agree and I'll add to how distortion takes place. This obviously hasn't occurred with Stephens, but I've seen this rhetoric applied to other players, namely McCracken with Blalock.

Based on what you gave me, I wouldn't deride your assessment. There is evidence, that Stephens may have a flaw that can be exposed by better players. I also wouldn't deride someone for saying that it was a good pickup by the Red Sox. Stephens appears to have decent if not spectacular control (hard to break apart the later numbers you posted); either has a basis, and either would be worth keeping an eye on for the future.

However, in both cases, we presumed that the scouts supplied something beyond the numbers. The Orioles may have found a flaw they did not believe could be overcome. The Red sox may have spotted a correctable flaw that would provide some value to Stephens. In essence, this is what the minor leagues and scouting is all about. Its not just about building the sample size for sabermetricians.

Now if you point out that we are blind to that knowledge, both Treder and McCracken have and would say something totally dismissive like "what you can't even talk about it." Of course, you can talk about it, but to pretend you know more than you do, or imply someone else is stupid or dumb is ridiculous. If the Sox make him into a pitcher, then they may have an advantage in a certain area of baseball that certainly isn't statistical analysis.
   271. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:36 AM (#490115)
erases all of successes (the 8 wins) and only counts the last game of each series.

I know the A's have organizational deficiencies, but I didn't know one of them was the inability to read. I think all this was explained to you upthread, but Kevin certainly repeated the information for you. However, the collective A's point out one of the problems with sabermetricians. Too many bad analysts and mathemeticians out there. Here's a hint -- step one is knowing what to measure. Your two wins get you nothing -- nada. They get you the same as your 8 runs in a 10-8 loss, or your five walks in 5-0 no hit shutout. step two -- do not assume that human beings are robots or coins Step three - when you have a complex multivariate situation, don't remove variables unless you know they don't influence outcome. I think some of the sabermetricians probably think your post was actually insightful. You should have used your real name, Neyer might even have written a column on it because I doubt he knows enough to even see how wrong you are. I think tango knows, that's why he went out and tried to develop win probabilities, which aren't terribly bad. He's also had the fortune of not having a bunch of you drones trying to overstate his work.
   272. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:41 AM (#490116)
Ummm, no, there were 20 events, not 4. Basic statistics. Try it!! It will make you smile and keep you regular :) And I think you have a problem with that.

OK, Kevin we have to give up. He used the "umm" you can't get past that rhetoric device. He cited basic statistics (which is probably the most statistics he's ever had, and never dealt with multivariate or non-deterministic phenomena), clearly we can't overcome this solid and well stated evidence.
   273. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:42 AM (#490117)
Baseball is done with about 30k witnesses. It is done one pitch at a time. People get paid to record everything that happens.

You obviously don't know what you're talking about. Everything the Air Force does in combat is measured in ways that make baseball statistics-keeping look like cavemen piling rocks.

As for the two players with similar stats posting vastly different values, that's completely bogus. It would only be true if a few superficial stats like hits or RBI were used; the essence of sabermetrics is to look at much more than just the superficial.

Again, you obviously don't know what you're talking about. Let's have a thought experiment: two hitters, in the same park, in the same league, facing the same opposition, both have 100 at bats with 10 walks, 20 singles, 5 doubles and 5 home runs. Baseball statistics, and sabermetrics, have no way to distinguish them. The first hitter hit only fastballs; the second only curves. These are not the same thing. A sabermetrician using numbers could not tell you which you'd rather have at the plate in, say, a playoff elimination game against a curveball specialist.

Based on what you gave me, I wouldn't deride your assessment. There is evidence, that Stephens may have a flaw that can be exposed by better players. I also wouldn't deride someone for saying that it was a good pickup by the Red Sox. Stephens appears to have decent if not spectacular control (hard to break apart the later numbers you posted); either has a basis, and either would be worth keeping an eye on for the future.

However, in both cases, we presumed that the scouts supplied something beyond the numbers. The Orioles may have found a flaw they did not believe could be overcome. The Red sox may have spotted a correctable flaw that would provide some value to Stephens. In essence, this is what the minor leagues and scouting is all about.


Exactly- and I have no way to know. It's entirely possible that smart Orioles scouts saw something in his delivery that they thought couldn't be fixed, AND that smart Red Sox scouts saw something else that they thought could be fixed. One of the pernicious effects of overly valuing statistics is that it leads to seeing everything as zero-sum- "the Red Sox are wise and virtuous, and the Oeioles dumb and evil." Possibly, the Orioles were wise to release him and the Sox wise to pick him up. Or maybe they were both stupid.

(For what it's worth, I'd take a flier on Stephens unless I had compelling reason not to.)
   274. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:44 AM (#490118)
I agree, I give up, it is impossible for there to have been 4, 9 and 20 events simulaltaneously or for people to discuss them seperately.
   275. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 02:44 AM (#490119)
I was born Backlasher, this is my real name. I am a hypocrite. I don't have a clue as to what probablity means, what a stochastic process is, and why there were 20 events and not 4. I embrace the gamblers fallacy cause it suits my Trollish needs.
   276. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:04 AM (#490122)
I made my handle up in the middle of this thread, taking it from the title of an article. I am NOT using my real name or normal handle. I therefore still a hypocrite to attack someone else for using a phony name, but i have the audcaity to make a stink about it. I am too stupid to understand the law of big numbers and the concepts of statistics. Every time someone crushes one of my arguments I evade. My only purpose here is too disagree with people. I am a coward.
   277. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:08 AM (#490123)
Forgive me for not reading this entire thing. It seems that a lot of the argument about the A's being flawed comes after the fact. It's easy to say there's something wrong with them since they have already lost.

If you're so certain that their failures are related to some flaw, then you should be able to tell us what that flaw is or at least tell us what current teams have that same flaw. So please let us know which teams, if they make the playoffs this year, will not be able to succeed.
   278. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:11 AM (#490124)
I assume the other backlasher is the weak-statistic Oakland A's fellow.

Let's see:

I embrace the gamblers fallacy cause it suits my Trollish needs.

If I embraced the gamblers fallacy and your statistical analysis I should be loading up on the A's to win this year shouldn't I. Or do you really know what the gamblers fallacy really is. I doubt you've had your statistics final exame yet.

what a stochastic process is

Really, I actually think I know what a stochastic process is. Does DRIPS, WARP, etc. use stochastic processes to come up with their results. Do they apply any time dependency or context dependency at all to their results. Do they even try to deal with randomness other than to say "Its luck". I'd actually like to know if PECRAPTA uses any such measure, but its a super, super secret.

why there were 20 events and not 4

Instead of asserting, why not explain. An event is no more or no less than the subspace of a population. A playoff game is slightly less discrete than a playoff series, but much less discrete of the success likelyhood on any give PA.

If I define the event as a playoff series, you should be able to compute P(A), based on all your sabermetric wisdom. If even as you claim that the success likelihood is measured on games, then isn't it just the probability that you achieve three successes before your opponent. If so, you should be able to calculate the probability of P(A)^4. I hope that doesn't stymie you on your freshman final next month.

Since P(A) is only a success in the same way as a batter getting a walk is a success, i.e. that is it is a good outcome but it doesn't reach the goal, defining your space of successes as playoff game wins is about as important as saying the A's won the walk contest.

Also, if your really interested in showing how much you learned from your freshman professor, please explain how a series clinching game is not different from all other baseball games. You don't need a bunch of evidence to see different player utilization patterns, and managerial decision patterns. At best you can argue strategy changes when you are facing elimination but not when you are going for the kill. Even if I granted you this, the A's are still 0-4, not 8 in 20.

Throwing words out of your college textbook isn't going to make your point look better, and it isn't going to scare off anybody that actually knows a little about analysis. I know you guys like to retreat into the math when facing a columnist, but your little games aren't going to work all the time. Treder's been called, you've been called. Its time to either show your hand or walk home.
   279. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:20 AM (#490126)
law of big numbers

Wow! your exhausting your freshman courses. I think this was dealt with earlier in the thread. That's the problem with people like McCracken. They create large data sets from dissemilar data so they can hide in the law of large numbers. I am starting to think you are Voros based on your obvious limited knowledge of mathematics and inability to discern how and when to measure. I just don't think Voros would be clever enough to come up with some of the better retorts in this thread. Come on Voros, you can use your real name-- the Red Sox will still let you get Theo's coffee.

If you're so certain that their failures are related to some flaw, then you should be able to tell us what that flaw is or at least tell us what current teams have that same flaw. So please let us know which teams, if they make the playoffs this year, will not be able to succeed.

Well, Darren, I can't tell you what caused the Chernobyl meltdown, but I'm pretty sure somebody made a mistake somewhere. If I see a building burning, I don't know what started the fire, but the building is still going to burn down if I or somebody else doesn't call the fire department. One of the A's fatal flaws in an overreliance on statistics. There are many other possible flaws, as I mentioned to Charlie, I'm not writing a treatise on the subject matter. However, I am sure that you don't believe anyone that disproves a theroem or hypothesis if they don't offer a definitive complete system to replace it that's not foolproof.
   280. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:24 AM (#490127)
I am NOT using my real name or normal handle.

FWIW, this is of course irrelevant, but if it makes the troll happy, I may register Backlasher on the new Primer. I'm debating between it and one other name. It won't matter much because I'm sure I'll get banned for my viewpoints within the first month.
   281. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:29 AM (#490130)
Darren,

I think the A's have as good a shot as anyone. I do think they should get a few tactical pieces they don't have right now, like a high AVG bench bat and another setup guy, drill more on baserunning and defense, and invest in more advance scouting. I suggested above that they might hire an advance man to scout off game tapes as a way of saving money, since they don't have any.

The Twins are a team that might play better in the playoffs than the regular season. They have a lot of hitters of similar value who have different skills. When you look at the stats, you wonder "Why don't they play Restovich/Cuddyer/whoever more?" I think a lot of the reason those guys put up the numbers they do is that they're well spotted against pitchers they'll hit well. What that means is that the Twins can rotate them according to matchups, keeping the same quality of hitter in the lineup while giving themselves advantages against different kinds of pitchers. Also, the Twins have a very sound defense.
   282. Jason Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:29 AM (#490131)
I'm still interested in Ross's response to my questions in #351. (Everyone else should feel free to chime in as well, of course.) I'll reprint the bulk of the post below:

Ross said:
   283. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:34 AM (#490132)
And it is still 20 events not 4 or 9.

If you say so. How can anyone argue with your expertise. I guess taking samples from against LH pitchers and against RH pitchers is also "selective sampling" (btw- this is the word your looking for, you need to read your 'sabermetric advocacy' handbook at little closer. when someone presents an event space that destroys your theory, your suppose to accuse them of 'selective sampling' you should know this if you want to really be part of the saber army). Platoon splits are just an incomprehensive phenomena and luck. Over time, all batters will hit to their true talent level against all pitchers. Given 1,000,000 AB, Eric Chavez would put up the same numbers against peak-Randy Johnson that he'd put up against all of MLB.

The 4 teams were all different in character.

And they shared what commonality? Let's see that's tough to figure out. There mistakes were all dissimilar as well. But you did learn how to call any point I make good. You'll grow to fit into the new Primer.

The winners of the last 4 series were all different in character.

And they shared what commonality? Let's see that's tough to figure out. (Don't even mention the productive outs story, because productive outs are all luck, a batter has no control over hitting the ball to the right side, or was it pitcher, I'm confused.)

I have no normal handle here cause i have posted maybe 4-5 times in the last year before this thread.

Yeah, your saber-advocacy isn't as refined as Walk Davis or Steve Treder, but you have the right ideology. You'll make a good Primate yet.

And we still don't know backlasher's normal handle cause he is too scared to say it.

Scared of what, that you are going to come and hit me over the head with a spreadsheet.
   284. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:35 AM (#490133)
I think the A's have as good a shot as anyone. I do think they should get a few tactical pieces they don't have right now, like a high AVG bench bat and another setup guy, drill more on baserunning and defense, and invest in more advance scouting. I suggested above that they might hire an advance man to scout off game tapes as a way of saving money, since they don't have any.

So you're saying that A's would have a better chance if they got better in a bunch of areas? I agree with that, but I don't think we're talking about the same thing here. What I'm looking for is a prediction, before the fact, that team X is missing key ingredient Y, which will result in them losing in the playoffs despite having the talent to win 100 games and get to the playoffs. For consistency's sake, it should share that key ingredient with the A's last few teams.

he Twins are a team that might play better in the playoffs than the regular season. They have a lot of hitters of similar value who have different skills. When you look at the stats, you wonder "Why don't they play Restovich/Cuddyer/whoever more?" I think a lot of the reason those guys put up the numbers they do is that they're well spotted against pitchers they'll hit well.

Have Restovich/Cuddyer/whoever really hit well when spotted? I thought they mainly hit well in the minors when they were playing everyday. I think all the evidence points to them struggling when spotted.
   285. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:36 AM (#490134)
vague statements about scouting, basestealing, bar fights

-The A's are well known to value scouts a bit less than other teams. Since successful clubs like the Yankees have attributed their postseason success to good scouting, perhaps the A's need to scout more. It would give them a better eye to good matchups and other small edges that loom larger in short series.

-Crucial baserunning errors may have cost the A's two different chances to advance in the postseason. They don't need to steal a lot, but they should be drilled in sliding and rundowns so they don't lose a third. It can't POSSIBLY hurt.

-The A's may have lost another series because their best pitcher got in a bar fight.

It's funny that some of the small things sabermetrics downplays- scouting, baserunning fundamentals, character (not that Hudson is a bad guy, but he should have known better than to get in a bar fight, possibly knocking himself out of a crucial start, and if he didn't someone should have reminded him)- are some of the small things that have cost the A's in the postseason. Are they as important as getting on base? No- but they cost very little, and a team as strapped as the A's should be looking for every edge they can get.
   286. Jason Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:41 AM (#490135)
Backlasher:

"The winners of the last 4 series were all different in character."

And they shared what commonality? Let's see that's tough to figure out.

I feel like you've got a particular commonality in mind (other than the fact that they ended up on the winning end of things), but I'm honestly confused about what it might be. Can you shed some light?
   287. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:44 AM (#490136)
What I'm looking for is a prediction, before the fact, that team X is missing key ingredient Y, which will result in them losing in the playoffs despite having the talent to win 100 games and get to the playoffs. For consistency's sake, it should share that key ingredient with the A's last few teams.

I think teams that lack tactical diversity, scout less than similarly successful teams and have bad fundamental skills will do worse in the postseason than their regular season win totals would suggest.

Have Restovich/Cuddyer/whoever really hit well when spotted?

To be honest it was an out of my ass statement based on the Twins' bewildering stocks of big young guys and some comments I've read from Gardenhire talking about how he can use them for matchups, but Restovich has hit .288/.397/.439 in very limited play, while Cuddyer has done less well in about half a season's worth of playing time, though he has slugged .422. I was making a more general point about what I thought led to playoff success, but perhaps should have used a better example, like Bobby Valentine's weird platoons with the late 90's Mets.
   288. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:47 AM (#490137)
-The A's are well known to value scouts a bit less than other teams. Since successful clubs like the Yankees have attributed their postseason success to good scouting, perhaps the A's need to scout more. It would give them a better eye to good matchups and other small edges that loom larger in short series.

I think they're well known to use emphasize statistics in drafting more than scouting (at least as Michael Lewis tells it). I haven't heard that they think advance scouting and the like are not useful. The Yankees have done more advance scouting the A's and any other team because they can afford to. The A's (and others) have to make choices about exactly how much of that (and other things) they can afford.

-Crucial baserunning errors may have cost the A's two different chances to advance in the postseason. They don't need to steal a lot, but they should be drilled in sliding and rundowns so they don't lose a third. It can't POSSIBLY hurt.

It can possibly hurt. There are only 24 hours in a day and you can only afford to hire so many coaches. Any time/manpower you spend on baserunning is taken away from other things like BP, which last year's A's probably could have used too.

-The A's may have lost another series because their best pitcher got in a bar fight.

Okay, but how could you prevent it? By looking at the character of players that you have on your team? Isn't that excatly what the A's did when they "put a Milo" on players in the Moneyball draft? Didn't they do this when they traded Jeremy Giambi and demoted Menechino?

And isn't this just a case of picking one incident that happened to one player and trying to draw a conclusion from it? How have the Yanks done in the playoffs with notorious idiot David Wells on their teams?
   289. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:51 AM (#490138)
I think teams that lack tactical diversity, scout less than similarly successful teams and have bad fundamental skills will do worse in the postseason than their regular season win totals would suggest.

I think we're just talking about two different things. You're talking about what generally makes a good team and I'm talking about a specific team. I'm asking those that are sure that the A's lost because of some tangible flaw to point to a 2004 team with that same flaw.
   290. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:54 AM (#490139)
Everyone else should feel free to chime in as well, of course.)

I hope that includes me, it seems I've set off the troll detector, so an IP ban can't be far behind. I may get some slack cause all the primer authorities are busy celebrating Easter.

Buckner will always miss that ball?

No, in fact that he will likely make that play more times that not. However, he will also likely make that play m less times than another first baseman, and m might be significant. It was dumb to leave Buckner in the game when you had other options. It was an error to misplay that ball. Both events are lack of execution, not luck.

Or are you saying that the only data point we have is the game in which Buckner missed the ball, and that therefore we'll never know if it could have unfolded a different way and it's pointless to speculate?

No, an I'll let Ross speak for himself. However, I'll say that it was a management failure to leave Buckner in the game, and it was an error by Buckner to not play the ball for an out. Both should have been preventable, and I'm not an expert on the BoSox of '86, but its possible that a GM could have and should have known that deficiencies in his overall organization would increase the likelihood of a negative outcome. The '86 series is no more about that one play than the Cubs last year were about the Bartman ball. Either team could have won not withstanding that outcome. Bartman is closer to luck, because the outcome could have been prevented. The only possible organizational failure is what the Cubs did post the Bartman ball, if the Bartman ball did have that degree of impact.

it'll only happen once, after all--and that the only analysis you can possibly do is retrospective and post hoc. So how do we know that anyone's ever likely to succeed/fail in a given situation? How do we predict future performance (whether that of a year from now or a day from now) at all? All we have is their performances in games under (necessarily) completely different conditions.

Again, I think this has been covered in thread. This is the Treder/Voros nihilism argument. That's not what anybody is saying at all. It may be possible to model micro events, but you need a heck of a lot more data than you are currently collecting. You aren't going to beat Tango's monkey to any significant degree in macro analysis. All the combinatorics in the world won't help you there. He can provide you the proof, but it won't stop the annual statgeek contests on predictions, and refinements looking for magic numbers. Predict to your hearts content, but don't throw out a bunch of mathematical terms to try and show your prediction is more scientific, valid or correct on micro analysis. More important, don't call somebody an idiot because they use data beyond DRIPS to arrive at their prediction.

There is a difference between losing a series 3-0 and 3-2. There is a difference between losing a game 1-0 and 20-0.

Yes, in both cases you describe events that are more competitive. Feel free to calculate away using those numbers. What are the odds of losing 4 series in a row 3-2? I bet its even greater than just losing 4 series in a row, because losing 4 series in a row = losing four series 3-0 + losing 4 series 3-1 + losing 4 series 3-2. Now unless the odds of losing four series 3-0 and losing 4 series 3-1 are both equal to 0, I'm pretty sure the odds are greater for losing four series 3-2. That's just addition, and if you have problems with that, you really should log off and study some more, your going to have a really tough time with that final next month. I also think that is probably in your statistics book. Look under basic problems in Chapter 1.
   291. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:55 AM (#490140)
I haven't heard that they think advance scouting and the like are not useful. The Yankees have done more advance scouting the A's and any other team because they can afford to.

I didn't say they thought it wasn't useful; I said they're known to value it a bit less than other teams. As I suggested above, they could scout more on the cheap by scouting game tapes. The scouts aren't expensive, it's the travel.

It can possibly hurt.

How? I'm not talking about running them to death. When your star player doesn't know how to stay out of a rundown you have a problem.
   292. Kevin Cook Posted: April 11, 2004 at 03:58 AM (#490141)
Me:I think teams that lack tactical diversity, scout less than similarly successful teams and have bad fundamental skills will do worse in the postseason than their regular season win totals would suggest.

Darren: I think we're just talking about two different things. You're talking about what generally makes a good team and I'm talking about a specific team. I'm asking those that are sure that the A's lost because of some tangible flaw to point to a 2004 team with that same flaw.

I would point to the A's as a team with those flaws.
   293. Backlasher Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:04 AM (#490142)
I feel like you've got a particular commonality in mind (other than the fact that they ended up on the winning end of things), but I'm honestly confused about what it might be. Can you shed some light?

I concur with Kevin, and I would add: they shared the same GM. That GM maybe should put down the spreadsheet and spend more time rewarding his scouts.

The A's (and others) have to make choices about exactly how much of that (and other things) they can afford.

Precisely, the choices should be less Scott Hatteberg and Terrence Long and more scouting. The choices should be less incentives on minor league players for walking and more on developing a complete game of baseball.

Also what was the difference in payroll between the Marlins, Angels and A's. I thought one of the saber-matras was you didn't have to spend a lot. Does saber-dogma now preach competitive imbalance. I must have missed the memo. (but I'm not on the distribution list).

How have the Yanks done in the playoffs with notorious idiot David Wells on their teams?

I think in the post-Waffle House incident, they lost a first round playoff series to the Angels and lost a world series to the Marlins. Nevertheless, its a little different when you have those finite resources isn't it.
   294. Mark Field Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:20 AM (#490143)
I should know better than this, but...

When Backlasher wanted to argue how badly the A's have done, he asserted that they had lost 9 straight "clinching games". Which he then screwed up the math on...

But now that the debate is whether there are 4 events or 20, he's arguing for only 4. In that case, of course, the probability of the A's losing all 4 would be 1/16, not 1/512.

Whether there are 4 events or 20 depends on what you're measuring. Neither answer is right in the abstract. Personally, I think the right answer here is 4. But whatever it is, I think a poster should take a position and stick with it.
   295. Thok Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:24 AM (#490144)
No, in fact that he will likely make that play more times that not. However, he will also likely make that play m less times than another first baseman, and m might be significant. It was dumb to leave Buckner in the game when you had other options. It was an error to misplay that ball. Both events are lack of execution, not luck.

It quite reasonable to suggest that Mookie Wilson could have struck out or hit a pop out in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series rather than hit to Bill Buckner. Mookie Wilson also could have hit a double in the gap or a home run. In either case, nobody would remember (or possibly even notice) the mistake of leaving Bill Buckner in the game.

This is where luck plays a part.
   296. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:24 AM (#490145)
I concur with Kevin, and I would add: they shared the same GM. That GM maybe should put down the spreadsheet and spend more time rewarding his scouts.

Why reward his scouts? They can't even find him players that win in the playoffs!
   297. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:27 AM (#490146)
Precisely, the choices should be less Scott Hatteberg and Terrence Long and more scouting. The choices should be less incentives on minor league players for walking and more on developing a complete game of baseball.

The A's choices have been "less Scott Hatteberg and Terrence Long." Those 2 guys are not particularly representative of the quality of players the A's have signed/traded for/drafted.

But even so, what was it that Hattberg did to sabotage them in the playoffs?
   298. Charlie Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:28 AM (#490147)
Ross:

"Sabermetrics has introduced many ideas that can help make baseball teams better. I know that you disagree with me, but my point is not to argue specifics at this time. My point is that you aren't open to being convinced that sabermetrics has any value."

I suggest you re-read that statement. First you assert something as true, then you say you don't want to discuss it and then you assert that someone who disagrees with you isn't open to being convinced.


I wasn't saying I don't want to discuss it, I was just trying to spare Backlasher the trouble of rewriting the laundry list of complaints above. I've read them and in fact I'm intrigued by many of them, as I said. My point was that Backlasher's style of debate and uncompromising position doesn't do some of his ideas justice. Like I said, I agree that sabermetrics probably don't say as much as they should about in-game context, or if they do those ideas aren't widely known. But the completely uncompromising approach, the knee-jerk hatred of all (or nearly all) things sabermetric/"sabermetric" doesn't do Backlasher any favors. The constant references to "weak minds," references to getting shut down by the Primer gestapo, the bizarre and nasty generalizations, the fudging of facts to strengthen arguments (like the implication that the A's are among the Top 10 in payroll), the hostile tone - those things won't get Backlasher anywhere, and they obscure the fact that he might really have some interesting criticisms in there. I recognize that "sabermetric" types are sometimes guilty of those things too, but many are not, and again, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Backlasher's current style makes it tough pick out what's a real argument, a real contribution to the debate, and what's just over-the-top anger.

And this thread isn't helping. Backlasher is right, the sheer number of issues being argued here is almost impossible to keep track of.
   299. Darren Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:30 AM (#490148)
I would point to the A's as a team with those flaws.

So you're saying the A's are a prohibitive favorite to make the playoffs this year but are prohibitive underdogs once they get there.
   300. Jason Posted: April 11, 2004 at 04:33 AM (#490149)
Backlasher, you misunderstand. I wasn't asking about the commonality shared by the A's, but by their opponents. (Take another look at my post in #512.) The remark was made that the winners of the four series against the A's were all different in character. You made the seemingly sarcastic remark that the commonality between these series winners was "tough to figure out." Other than beating the A's, what is this commonality?

On another track, could someone explain to me--Backlasher, you can go ahead, since you were the last one to invoke him, but I've actually always been kind of puzzled--why and how people think that Terrence Long is somehow a saber-friendly player, other than the fact that the A's signed him?

That is, when you make the following comment:

Precisely, the choices should be less Scott Hatteberg and Terrence Long and more scouting.

What is it about Long that elevates him from simply a bad signing to a symptom of the misguidedness of Beane's brand of sabermetrics?

I thought one of the saber-matras was you didn't have to spend a lot. Does saber-dogma now preach competitive imbalance.

Actually, I think the idea is that if you don't have a lot to spend, either as a GM or as an owner, there are ways you can exploit market inefficiencies in order to do as well as you can. I don't think anybody would say that, all things being equal, it isn't nicer to have more money to use on your organization. Certainly I'd rather be in Paul DePodesta or Theo Epstein's position than Billy Beane's.

Where did you get the notion that "one of the saber-[mantras] was you didn't have to spend a lot"?
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