Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, September 23, 2011

WSJ: Futterman: Baseball After Moneyball

We can’t find socks that shape to our feet, we’re sick of it. SICK OF IT!

The Baseball Geeks Become Insufferable

...“I’m O.K. until someone starts explaining to me why Bobby Abreu is better than Roberto Clemente,” says the longtime broadcaster and MLB Network host Bob Costas, an early Bill James disciple. “Then I’ve had it.”

Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent hates speaking out against statistical analysis because it makes him sound like a Luddite, which he swears he isn’t, but he says numbers are often taken out of context.

“I remember sitting at Joe DiMaggio’s funeral and listening to [former Yankee teammate and American League president] Dr. Bobby Brown explain how there were no statistics kept on how many times Joe had stretched a single into a double in the eighth inning or later and then come around to score the winning run, or made a spectacular catch or throw to save a game.

“He said he saw those things and rated Joe at the top because of it. The only numbers he cared about were how many pennants and championships the Yankees won when Joe was in center field. It was brilliant because Bobby was a man of science, a cardiologist who had played with Joe and he was arguing that you can only take the numbers so far.”

Repoz Posted: September 23, 2011 at 09:46 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, athletics, books, business, history, media, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 23, 2011 at 10:16 AM (#3933858)
there were no statistics kept on how many times Joe had stretched a single into a double in the eighth inning or later and then come around to score the winning run, or made a spectacular catch or throw to save a game.

Something tells me there are statistics to count these things. Or at least Retrosheet is working on them.
   2. Avoid Running At All Times- S. Paige Posted: September 23, 2011 at 10:46 AM (#3933860)
Hey that's Bobby Brown's prerogative. Nobody ever forced him to think otherwise.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:19 AM (#3933863)
Clemente -- 84 WAR
Abreu -- 59 WAR

####### sabermetrics!
   4. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:51 AM (#3933869)
It was brilliant because Bobby was a man of science, a cardiologist who had played with Joe and he was arguing that you can only take the numbers so far.


No he's not. He's arguing that nobody was keeping the numbers.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM (#3933874)
you can only take the numbers so far.

if you get them drunk, you can take them farther
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM (#3933886)
That Bill James picture in the article is terrifying.
   7. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 23, 2011 at 01:28 PM (#3933916)
"The geeks are off the leash" is a common theme in many Moneyball articles I'm seeing, but none of them are giving examples or naming names. That poor strawman is getting beaten senseless.
   8. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 23, 2011 at 01:36 PM (#3933921)
Clemente -- 84 WAR
Abreu -- 59 WAR

####### sabermetrics!


Bobby Abreu was better than Clemente... through their age 28 seasons.
   9. BDC Posted: September 23, 2011 at 01:48 PM (#3933930)
until someone starts explaining to me why Bobby Abreu is better than Roberto Clemente


As Walt implies, I wonder if anyone actually tried to explain this to Bob Costas. The two are fairly close as hitters – Abreu has a slightly higher career slugging percentage and a good bit higher career on-base percentage – so conceivably our strawman stat geek might have to be explaining contextual illusions to Bob Costas to show that Clemente was at least as good as Abreu. Abreu was the better baserunner. So the considerable difference between them comes down to Clemente being the greatest right fielder in the history of the planet, and Abreu not. IOW it seems to me our strawman would be arguing the same thing as any old geezer in a barroom.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: September 23, 2011 at 02:03 PM (#3933947)
I'd ask Bob if he factored in walks drawn.

Clemente, 621 BB in 10212 PA.
Abreu has 1418 BB in 9654 PA.

That alone doesn't make Abreu better, obviously. But anyone who doesn't take his 'gut instinct' and add context such as that is really just spouting drivel.

I saw Clemente play, and in that era the guy who drew 30 BB was given no less credit than the otherwise-similar offensive player who drew 100 BB. Heck, "hits" was such a popular stat that the heavy-walk guy helped his team more, but hurt the fan perception of him.
   11. Tripon Posted: September 23, 2011 at 02:05 PM (#3933950)
I feel that most of the criticism against sabermetrics is for the nonsense small sample stats, which isn't what we would consider sabermetrics at all. The Elias Sports Bureau had the last laugh!
   12. Matthew E Posted: September 23, 2011 at 02:09 PM (#3933954)
If you read the article, they quote a guy named

John Challenger, principal of the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas
.

That has to be the greatest name of a company ever.
   13. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: September 23, 2011 at 02:44 PM (#3933998)
you can only take the numbers so far.

if you get them drunk, you can take them farther


"This is the part of the mathematical equation where I kill you."
   14. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: September 23, 2011 at 03:02 PM (#3934017)
Hey, that's Bobby Brown's prerogative.

This world is a trip! I dunno what's goin' on these days...
   15. Avoid Running At All Times- S. Paige Posted: September 23, 2011 at 03:06 PM (#3934022)
Thank God somebody acknowledged it. I was going to go the Poison route next.
   16. jwb Posted: September 23, 2011 at 08:33 PM (#3934336)
John Challenger, principal of the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas
Heidrick & Struggles is another good one. Believe me, it was struggle and a challenge to put up with the the guy Heidrick & Struggles placed with the company I worked for a few years ago.
   17. villageidiom Posted: September 23, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3934341)
I was going to go the Poison route next.
I don't see what Bret Michaels has to do with any of this.
   18. JC in DC Posted: September 23, 2011 at 08:51 PM (#3934351)
As Walt implies, I wonder if anyone actually tried to explain this to Bob Costas. The two are fairly close as hitters – Abreu has a slightly higher career slugging percentage and a good bit higher career on-base percentage – so conceivably our strawman stat geek might have to be explaining contextual illusions to Bob Costas to show that Clemente was at least as good as Abreu. Abreu was the better baserunner. So the considerable difference between them comes down to Clemente being the greatest right fielder in the history of the planet, and Abreu not. IOW it seems to me our strawman would be arguing the same thing as any old geezer in a barroom.


Bob: I agree. But I think Costas's invocation of Clemente serves a largely rhetorical purpose: Clemente is a sacred cow, the object of great sentimentality. Bob's proclaiming his outrage at the exaggerated conclusions statistical analysis might lead to (Abreu>Clemente! How dare they!) and protecting himself from criticism simultaneously (are you really going to subject Clemente to statistical analysis and argue against popular sentiment?).

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt!
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogCaptain Obvious
(23 - 3:47pm, Dec 06)
Last: RJ in TO

NewsblogScar Tissue - By Bobby Jenks
(3 - 3:47pm, Dec 06)
Last: ajnrules

NewsblogOT - NBA Thread, Start of the 2019-2020 Season
(1316 - 3:45pm, Dec 06)
Last: Der-K: at 10% emotional investment

NewsblogThe Hall of Fame may have a Harold Baines problem
(38 - 3:40pm, Dec 06)
Last: Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques

NewsblogThe Best Post-Season Games Ever Pitched
(8 - 3:32pm, Dec 06)
Last: bobm

NewsblogNationals Owner Says Team Cant Afford Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon
(3 - 3:30pm, Dec 06)
Last: Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim

NewsblogWhat we know about the Angels' deal with Anaheim - Los Angeles Times
(5 - 3:28pm, Dec 06)
Last: Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim

NewsblogThe Hall of Fame Case for Don Mattingly
(61 - 3:28pm, Dec 06)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (December 2019)
(53 - 3:27pm, Dec 06)
Last: gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-6-2019
(4 - 3:26pm, Dec 06)
Last: The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie)

NewsblogBobby Jenks: Scar Tissue
(73 - 3:23pm, Dec 06)
Last: Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle

NewsblogPadres-Rays Trade: Tommy Pham, Hunter Renfroe Headline Intriguing Deal (Report)
(26 - 2:43pm, Dec 06)
Last: Skloot Insurance

NewsblogOT- Soccer Thread- October 2019
(753 - 1:57pm, Dec 06)
Last: Baldrick

NewsblogTesting, no suspensions for opioids considered likely in MLB
(5 - 12:26pm, Dec 06)
Last: Bote Man

NewsblogMets acquiring center fielder Jake Marisnick from Astros
(43 - 12:16pm, Dec 06)
Last: Der-K: at 10% emotional investment

Page rendered in 0.2868 seconds
46 querie(s) executed