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savafan
04-26-2010, 11:33 PM
This is an entirely personal observation on my part.

I have been a baseball fan my entire life, starting with my childhood hobby of collecting baseball cards. I memorized the stats of every player, batting average, home runs, RBI, ERA, wins, strikeouts, etc. When most kids my age were listening to the latest rock songs on the radio, I was listening to Marty and Joe, falling asleep to the sounds of late night west coast road trips.

I watched every baseball game that would be televised, the Cubs and White Sox on WGN, the Braves on TBS, the Reds on WLWT, every game shown by ESPN...

I considered myself a diehard baseball fan, never simply just a casual fan. When Redszone started, I was one of the most prolific posters.

Not long after, on base percentage and slugging percentage were the most popular stats used to rank the talent level of hitters, along with the combined OPS stat. I accepted it, and figured it out.

Then more stats appeared, like isolated power, batting average on balls in play, WHIP, and many others. I think there are stats used to determine the effectiveness of warm up pitches and time it takes a hitter to get from the on deck circle to the batter's box. Our eyes and observations don't have any bearing on the game anymore, it's all about numbers, some of which have formulas so obviously complex you have to have a doctorate to even begin to understand how they are calculated.

I'm going to be honest, I don't get all of these stats. I don't know what half of them mean or how you arrive at them. I'm 33 years old, probably the median age of Redszone posters. I'm in tORG because I was grandfathered in. I don't post nearly as much as I used to, because tORG posters demand a high level of Reds baseball discussion, which apparently means that EVERY thread we have anymore is filled with these complex stats and formulas that only calculator toting SABR fans can grasp. I'm not hating on those of you who love these stats and understand them, and I don't think I'm any less a baseball fan for not getting them, though the tone of many threads leave me thinking that I might be. I never liked math, and I never will. I do love baseball though. I like watching games and cheering on my favorite team.

I don't know if this is discussion worthy or not, but it's been on my mind for a while, and I just thought that if I was thinking it, maybe there are other posters out there who feel the same way I do.

dougdirt
04-26-2010, 11:57 PM
Math and sabermetrics help me and I assume some others, grasp a stronger understanding of what goes on within the baseball game. They aren't for everyone, God knows that my 'real life' friends for the most part refuse to talk certain baseball topics with me because they know that I will get into a heated debate with them using things they don't understand. Some things just aren't for certain people. We all are here because we enjoy, or at least want to enjoy Cincinnati Reds baseball. I choose to import advanced statistics into how I enjoy or view my Reds baseball. It makes it more enjoyable to me as I feel I have a stronger grasp on a lot of things that I would otherwise. IF that isn't your cup of tea, well then it just isn't. Enjoy the Reds how you wish to enjoy them.

Brutus
04-27-2010, 12:01 AM
This is an entirely personal observation on my part.

I have been a baseball fan my entire life, starting with my childhood hobby of collecting baseball cards. I memorized the stats of every player, batting average, home runs, RBI, ERA, wins, strikeouts, etc. When most kids my age were listening to the latest rock songs on the radio, I was listening to Marty and Joe, falling asleep to the sounds of late night west coast road trips.

I watched every baseball game that would be televised, the Cubs and White Sox on WGN, the Braves on TBS, the Reds on WLWT, every game shown by ESPN...

I considered myself a diehard baseball fan, never simply just a casual fan. When Redszone started, I was one of the most prolific posters.

Not long after, on base percentage and slugging percentage were the most popular stats used to rank the talent level of hitters, along with the combined OPS stat. I accepted it, and figured it out.

Then more stats appeared, like isolated power, batting average on balls in play, WHIP, and many others. I think there are stats used to determine the effectiveness of warm up pitches and time it takes a hitter to get from the on deck circle to the batter's box. Our eyes and observations don't have any bearing on the game anymore, it's all about numbers, some of which have formulas so obviously complex you have to have a doctorate to even begin to understand how they are calculated.

I'm going to be honest, I don't get all of these stats. I don't know what half of them mean or how you arrive at them. I'm 33 years old, probably the median age of Redszone posters. I'm in tORG because I was grandfathered in. I don't post nearly as much as I used to, because tORG posters demand a high level of Reds baseball discussion, which apparently means that EVERY thread we have anymore is filled with these complex stats and formulas that only calculator toting SABR fans can grasp. I'm not hating on those of you who love these stats and understand them, and I don't think I'm any less a baseball fan for not getting them, though the tone of many threads leave me thinking that I might be. I never liked math, and I never will. I do love baseball though. I like watching games and cheering on my favorite team.

I don't know if this is discussion worthy or not, but it's been on my mind for a while, and I just thought that if I was thinking it, maybe there are other posters out there who feel the same way I do.

Sabermetrics have advanced our understanding of the game of baseball a great deal. They're a better way to evaluate hitters, pitchers and fielders than the aggregate stats found on the back of a baseball card used to give us. But no one should ever mistake them for the actual interaction on a baseball diamond.

Theo Epstein, a big Saber guy, commented this past offseason that defense and the scouting side of front offices might be catching back up with the game. That's probably because of the paralysis by analysis that has enveloped the game the last few years that you speak of.

For me, the sheer number of formulas and statistics are a product of so many various facets of the game that are intending to be measured. The alphabet soup of statistics have evolved not just because of new research, but somewhat because so many people are trying to reinvent the wheel. In the end, though, the game is played by humans and we can make reasonable conclusions based on our observations of that interaction. All the stats in the world just give us a better understanding of what we observed.

savafan
04-27-2010, 12:02 AM
For me, the sheer number of formulas and statistics are a product of so many various facets of the game that are intending to be measured. The alphabet soup of statistics have evolved not just because of new research, but somewhat because so many people are trying to reinvent the wheel. In the end, though, the game is played by humans and we can make reasonable conclusions based on our observations of that interaction. All the stats in the world just give us a better understanding of what we observed.

This is an excellent point. :thumbup:

Will M
04-27-2010, 01:33 AM
i think that a fair number of stat fans tend to think 100% of the game is stat related. things like clubhouse chemistry, hard work, comfort zone & other non measurable things are felt to be insignificant.

now on the flip side there are 'old school' guys who look at batting average only & think the stat fans are all geeks who didn't get any dates in high school.

i think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. maybe 75% stats & 25% old school. those non measurable things do matter. good scouting and coaching matter as well. if you can fix something in a players approach or mechanics then his older stats may not mean much.

as to the stats themselves i think there is way too much emphasis placed on the latest greatest stat. don't chuck the ole OPS+ just because the new XYZ PDQ stat is soooo much better. i think things like OPS+, SB%, & WHIP are fine stats to judge players by. the fielding stats are another matter. i'll use them but you also have to trust your own eyes.

Superdude
04-27-2010, 03:38 AM
as to the stats themselves i think there is way too much emphasis placed on the latest greatest stat. don't chuck the ole OPS+ just because the new XYZ PDQ stat is soooo much better. i think things like OPS+, SB%, & WHIP are fine stats to judge players by.

agreed. .300/.400/.500 is all the casual fan needs to know to make a fair assessment of players in my opinion. There's indecipherable formulas out there, but any improvements they make over the basic slash lines are going to be near negligible for the casual fan.

Things like BABIP and isolated power are good to learn though...OPS tells you the sum of a player's production, but stats like BABIP, K%, BB%, and IsoP help you piece together how the player reached that number.

Ron Madden
04-27-2010, 04:56 AM
This is an entirely personal observation on my part.

I have been a baseball fan my entire life, starting with my childhood hobby of collecting baseball cards. I memorized the stats of every player, batting average, home runs, RBI, ERA, wins, strikeouts, etc. When most kids my age were listening to the latest rock songs on the radio, I was listening to Marty and Joe, falling asleep to the sounds of late night west coast road trips.

I watched every baseball game that would be televised, the Cubs and White Sox on WGN, the Braves on TBS, the Reds on WLWT, every game shown by ESPN...

I considered myself a diehard baseball fan, never simply just a casual fan. When Redszone started, I was one of the most prolific posters.

Not long after, on base percentage and slugging percentage were the most popular stats used to rank the talent level of hitters, along with the combined OPS stat. I accepted it, and figured it out.

Then more stats appeared, like isolated power, batting average on balls in play, WHIP, and many others. I think there are stats used to determine the effectiveness of warm up pitches and time it takes a hitter to get from the on deck circle to the batter's box. Our eyes and observations don't have any bearing on the game anymore, it's all about numbers, some of which have formulas so obviously complex you have to have a doctorate to even begin to understand how they are calculated.

I'm going to be honest, I don't get all of these stats. I don't know what half of them mean or how you arrive at them. I'm 33 years old, probably the median age of Redszone posters. I'm in tORG because I was grandfathered in. I don't post nearly as much as I used to, because tORG posters demand a high level of Reds baseball discussion, which apparently means that EVERY thread we have anymore is filled with these complex stats and formulas that only calculator toting SABR fans can grasp. I'm not hating on those of you who love these stats and understand them, and I don't think I'm any less a baseball fan for not getting them, though the tone of many threads leave me thinking that I might be. I never liked math, and I never will. I do love baseball though. I like watching games and cheering on my favorite team.

I don't know if this is discussion worthy or not, but it's been on my mind for a while, and I just thought that if I was thinking it, maybe there are other posters out there who feel the same way I do.




I honestly believe we are all Reds/Baseball Fans here. We all follow and enjoy the game in our own way. There is no right or wrong way to be a Fan.

As long as you enjoy the game that's all that matters. :thumbup:

flyer85
04-27-2010, 08:43 AM
a fan is a fanatic

savafan
04-27-2010, 08:57 AM
a fan is a fanatic

True, I realized that after posting, but are all fanatics fanatical? :confused: :p:

RedsManRick
04-27-2010, 08:57 AM
I find it interesting that the conversation quickly becomes watching the game versus watching the spreadsheet. I realize that's not the tone you used Sava and I appreciate that. But the general frame is similar. However, most people on the "watching the game" side will site batting average, RBI, or what-have-you.

If it were truly watching the game versus analyzing it quantitatively, I could understand the divide. But that's not really the point of contention. It's that some people want to compliment their watching and discussion of the game only with the stats they know and grew up with while others people want to compliment it with richer stats that dig deeper in to the nuances to gain greater explanatory power.

It's a question of "good enough" stats vs. "as good as possible" stats. It's about being able to have a debate with other people using the same caliber of ammunition. Until and unless I see the "good enough" crowd abdicate their use of batting average and RBI in making analytical statements and stick solely to what they see on the field, I'll maintain that everybody in the conversation loves stats. Some people are just more interested/willing to learn about and use the more complex ones.

There is a frustration from feeling like you understand something and can sit back and enjoy it only to have it pointed out that your understanding is simplistic.

lollipopcurve
04-27-2010, 09:01 AM
I do love baseball though. I like watching games and cheering on my favorite team.

All you need, bro.

nate
04-27-2010, 09:03 AM
I'm going to be honest, I don't get all of these stats. I don't know what half of them mean or how you arrive at them. I'm 33 years old, probably the median age of Redszone posters. I'm in tORG because I was grandfathered in. I don't post nearly as much as I used to, because tORG posters demand a high level of Reds baseball discussion, which apparently means that EVERY thread we have anymore is filled with these complex stats and formulas that only calculator toting SABR fans can grasp. I'm not hating on those of you who love these stats and understand them,

It's not a "love" of stats, it's a love of baseball. Many times, these "advanced" statistics actually verify things we see on the field. Other times, they tell us some kind of skill is undervalued which leads to interesting discussion (and a desire for the Reds to exploit that.)

Ten years ago, I thought RBI was a measure of skill, pitching record told me who was good and an "advanced" metric was "BA/RISP." It all started clicking for me the first time I saw someone explain that if on-base percentage were inverted (dunno if that's the term but 1 - OBP) and called "out-making percentage," more folks would know about it.

Anyhow, for me, understanding the "advanced" (some of them, quite honestly, aren't that advanced) metrics helped me enjoy the game more.


and I don't think I'm any less a baseball fan for not getting them, though the tone of many threads leave me thinking that I might be.

That tone is bi-driectional.


I never liked math, and I never will.

Neither do I.


I do love baseball though. I like watching games and cheering on my favorite team.

So does everyone here.

Well, except one...:cool:


I don't know if this is discussion worthy or not, but it's been on my mind for a while, and I just thought that if I was thinking it, maybe there are other posters out there who feel the same way I do.

I feel the same way you do. But my feeling is toward those who "poo-poo" stats and call names and make fun of it while offering no credible argument to support their case. Fortunately, the site has both an "ignore user" and "ignore thread" function AND _any_ ORG member is free to start a new thread.

I find making use of all three raises my xE/P (expanded Enjoyment per Post) by a factor of 1.2 (no "board effect," tORG only.)

:cool:

reds1869
04-27-2010, 09:03 AM
I highly recommend reading Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Obsession with Statistics. The book is a great romp through the history of statistics and analysis. Anyone with even a passing interest in this thread would love it.

jojo
04-27-2010, 09:03 AM
I'm not sure why it matters how someone else watches the game.

westofyou
04-27-2010, 09:25 AM
I highly recommend reading Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Obsession with Statistics. The book is a great romp through the history of statistics and analysis. Anyone with even a passing interest in this thread would love it.

Yep, and it does the best refuting of the notion that stats are something "new" to baseball, when in fact the game has had stats (and its supporters) pouring out of its bum since Jim Creighton played.

savafan
04-27-2010, 09:33 AM
I'll have to look for that book.

Does anyone know if, in the history of Redszone, there's ever been a thread that explains these advanced metrics?

Reds Nd2
04-27-2010, 09:48 AM
I'll have to look for that book.

It's a great book and an easy read too. Highly recommended.

RedsManRick
04-27-2010, 10:39 AM
I'll have to look for that book.

Does anyone know if, in the history of Redszone, there's ever been a thread that explains these advanced metrics?

Which ones do you want explained? I'd be happy to provide you one of my own and direct you to explanations elsewhere.

As a starting point, this a is a great overview not of specific stats but of the general approach: http://www.baseball1.com/bb-data/grabiner/manifesto.html

Also, here's a decent starting point for definitions of some advanced stats: http://www.tangotiger.net/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page.

Perhaps more than anything else though, I would implore anybody who is interested in learning more to start digging around through fangraphs.com. The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus have good stuff too, but fangraphs has the best collection of stuff. Some it is simple; some of it takes a bit - but there are lots of explanations on the site and plenty of people happy to answer questions.

Hoosier Red
04-27-2010, 10:51 AM
I agree on the Schwartz recommendation.

One of the key factors in evaluating whether stats are meaningful to you or not is what you would use them for.

Some people use stats to familiarize themselves with what happened in a game they missed. Jay Bruce went 3-4 Sunday with a double or to see recent trends. Bruce is 13 for 46 since April 12

Some people use stats to reinforce what they already thought.
Joey Votto is good, Drew Stubbs needs to get on base more often, Aaron Harang really could use a good game or two to bring down his ERA

Where some of these "voodoo" stats come into play is trying to predict what's going to happen. Especially if it seems counter intuitive to what "generally accepted" stats would say.
Even though Jay Bruce was batting .050, his line drive rate and BABIP showed he was somewhat unlucky, and his numbers should pick up soon.(They did) Mike Leake's WHIP is dangerously high, at this rate he's going to see a huge explosion of runs. (Hopefully doesn't happen)

The problem with this is 1) Predictions aren't 100% accurate, baseball's a funny game and even if you make the "correct" bet, it doesn't always pan out. 2) It runs counter to what the angry hoards will often say, Aaron Harang got fat and happy on his big salary, Drew Stubbs is really fast he should bat leadoff, Mike Leake just likes the pressure better and works better under it, A team that wins 10 consecutive 1 run games has excellent moral fortitude

I tend to use Stats in category 1, category 2, and sometimes category 3. Usually I use category 3 to back up what I was seeing, Good lord, Jay Bruce is being robbed on a nightly basis, or wow I really don't like this tight rope walk by Leake, I hope it doesn't come back to get him.

nate
04-27-2010, 11:01 AM
To follow up on Rick's post, here's (http://saberlibrary.com/) an excellent resource that tries to distill certain SABR-stats into more digestible chunks.

The graphs on Fangraphs say more than almost any amount of words.

jojo
04-27-2010, 11:12 AM
Some people use stats to familiarize themselves with what happened in a game they missed. Jay Bruce went 3-4 Sunday with a double or to see recent trends. Bruce is 13 for 46 since April 12

Some people use stats to reinforce what they already thought.
Joey Votto is good, Drew Stubbs needs to get on base more often, Aaron Harang really could use a good game or two to bring down his ERA

Some people also use stats to learn more about a game they are passionate about.

TRF
04-27-2010, 11:18 AM
I've come to ignore a lot of stats. I don't care for LD%(subjective) I understand BABIP, but only casually use it, and almost never look for it in season. RC was popular on this board a few years ago (Raisor invented it and won a Nobel Prize for it) as was RC/27. Never understood either of them.

For me I look at OPS and how it's compiled to see if a hitter leans towards power or getting on base. That's it. it's really the only hitting stat i use or look at.

For pitchers, I look at three stats WHIP (the lower, the better) K/9 (the higher the better) and BB/9 (again, the lower the better) I sometimes look at H/9 if I see good K and BB numbers but a high ERA.

And that's really it. a few other stats I'll glance at are mostly counting stats we all know about.

I don't need to wrap my head around complex math to enjoy baseball, or dissect a player's season.

nate
04-27-2010, 11:40 AM
The problem with this is 1) Predictions aren't 100% accurate, baseball's a funny game and even if you make the "correct" bet, it doesn't always pan out.

Actually, the problem is believing that stats make predictions, they don't. They tell us what happened. Some stats allow us to project (not predict, there's a big difference) how a player is likely to perform going forward. However, the stats themselves do no such thing. When we say, "it's likely that so-and-so will do this," it means exactly that...it's "likely." It isn't "for sure" and no singular example of the past will make it so. If a projection is off, it can mean the methods used to arrive at the projection were wrong OR it can simply mean that that particular likelihood wasn't realized.

I think this belief often leads to serious misunderstandings about what stats are really about. If the "stats-people" could predict with 100% accuracy, there would be a world of really rich "stats-people" and "stats-person" would be the top job market around the world.

Hoosier Red
04-27-2010, 11:42 AM
Actually, the problem is believing that stats make predictions, they don't. They tell us what happened. Some stats allow us to project (not predict, there's a big difference) how a player is likely to perform going forward. However, the stats themselves do no such thing. When we say, "it's likely that so-and-so will do this," it means exactly that...it's "likely." It isn't "for sure" and no singular example of the past will make it so. If a projection is off, it can mean the methods used to arrive at the projection were wrong OR it can simply mean that that particular likelihood wasn't realized.

I think this belief often leads to serious misunderstandings about what stats are really about. If the "stats-people" could predict with 100% accuracy, there would be a world of really rich "stats-people" and "stats-person" would be the top job market around the world.

That's a good point. I should have said projection.

bucksfan2
04-27-2010, 12:09 PM
I've come to ignore a lot of stats. I don't care for LD%(subjective) I understand BABIP, but only casually use it, and almost never look for it in season. RC was popular on this board a few years ago (Raisor invented it and won a Nobel Prize for it) as was RC/27. Never understood either of them.

For me I look at OPS and how it's compiled to see if a hitter leans towards power or getting on base. That's it. it's really the only hitting stat i use or look at.

For pitchers, I look at three stats WHIP (the lower, the better) K/9 (the higher the better) and BB/9 (again, the lower the better) I sometimes look at H/9 if I see good K and BB numbers but a high ERA.

And that's really it. a few other stats I'll glance at are mostly counting stats we all know about.

I don't need to wrap my head around complex math to enjoy baseball, or dissect a player's season.

I like to look at stats in this manner. And to be honest I think you can get a great understanding of the game by looking at a few good numbers, and how they are calculated. OPS for a while had become the end all be all offensive stat, and you can get a great understanding by not only looking at that number but its components.

For pitchers I do like the old generic ERA but also BB:K ratio for starters. For relievers is a much different story because one bad outing can hurt your ERA. I do think WHIP and K:BB as well as K/9 BB/9 have a lot of merit.

I am kind of combining threads but RMR made a post on the Howard thread that said in effect Ryan Howard is being paid like a 5 win player while he has only been a 5 win player once in his career. Im not disputing that curious as to what a true 5 win player is. If Ryan Howard is the glue that keeps the best team in the NL together over the next 2-3 years then it may be worth to pay him that contract. If you can get 3 playoff appearances and one WS championship over the course of Howards contract then I am sure Philly will think the contract is worth it. I still think Philly paid the piper to keep this team together for another 2-3 years but that is the price they had to pay. But it gets back to my original point/question, what is a 5 win player?

Brutus
04-27-2010, 01:17 PM
I've come to ignore a lot of stats. I don't care for LD%(subjective) I understand BABIP, but only casually use it, and almost never look for it in season. RC was popular on this board a few years ago (Raisor invented it and won a Nobel Prize for it) as was RC/27. Never understood either of them.

For me I look at OPS and how it's compiled to see if a hitter leans towards power or getting on base. That's it. it's really the only hitting stat i use or look at.

For pitchers, I look at three stats WHIP (the lower, the better) K/9 (the higher the better) and BB/9 (again, the lower the better) I sometimes look at H/9 if I see good K and BB numbers but a high ERA.

And that's really it. a few other stats I'll glance at are mostly counting stats we all know about.

I don't need to wrap my head around complex math to enjoy baseball, or dissect a player's season.

Runs created is great simply for looking at what a player did offensively. I think the reason it's kind of gotten lost is because it has absolutely no predictive value of what a player may do going forward.

RedsManRick
04-27-2010, 01:36 PM
Great post Hoosier. Building on your thoughts, I would say that stats are used in one of three basic ways.

1) Summary of past events
2) Valuation/ Comparison
3) Predictor of future events

The traditional stats are pretty good for category 1. Unfortunately, they are mediocre at #2 and fairly poor at #3. I think some tension arises because it isn't clear to people why this is the case. This is where an understanding of statistical principals really comes up. Some things just aren't intuitive for people. People want to make inferences that just simply overstep their bounds. They want to use stats improperly and not be called out for it. If you want to use data to talk valuation or prediction, there are proven methodologies for doing so. Sure, those methodologies evolve, but there are better and worse ways to do it. Not all methods are equally effective/accurate. I don't think anybody has an intrinsic right to using whatever method they like in a public forum without that method being challenged. It's the nature of public discourse.

A frequent problem is people using vague language in making statements of value or comparison: "So-and-so is good" or "We need a leadoff hitter". The assertions are (often) based on loosely defined criteria, if at all, and which are not explained/provided. The conclusion is shared, but not the "work" which led to it. This invariably begs people to disagree. But because the definitions are vague and the premises unclear, each side ends up using their own definitions, their own evidence and just talks past each other. Inevitably, somebody starts using advanced metrics, others start to tune out and it all goes to heck. I've found that the people who like to use the advanced stats are generally the type of people who are inclined to logical arguments supported by evidence. That's not to say other people are against those things, merely that they feel more comfortable reaching and sharing conclusions before jumping through those hoops.

Certain language is also particularly troublesome in this regard. For example, when people say "Bruce is struggling and needs more time in AAA", what do they really mean by struggling? It can be interpreted many ways. Do they mean that he's not making good contact? Do they mean that he has a low batting average? Sometimes the stats line up with each other, sometimes they don't. And sometimes the stats lineup with observation and sometimes they don't. Without "showing your work" any discussion about the conclusion ends up in people chasing their tails. And if one side shows work, the other side feels compelled to either do work themselves, admit that they may be wrong, or abandon the conversation. They feel punished for sharing an opinion.

It's a challenging dynamic for any group. The best I can say for those who think they way I do is to first ask yourself: Is this conversation which I'm about to join about really figuring out the best answer -- or is just somebody venting a frustration and looking for some validation. There's very little to be gained by trying to engage the latter in a debate and I think it's fair for all posters to have some reasonable expectation that they should feel free to express their thoughts without being belittled or humiliated.

To those who aren't sabermetrically inclined, I would offer this: if you are going to make a statement of fact which can be tested/evaluated, don't get angry when people do so. If you make a statement like "Bruce stinks", that statement is only meaningful in the context of the definition of "stinks". If you want to define "stinks" as "has a batting average under .200", by all means do so and at least we can have the discussion on those terms; but at least be honest about your definition. Too often I see people make assertions like that and then get angry when asked to define it or when the statement is challenged by somebody else's definition. If you aren't willing to defend a statement of fact, state it as an opinion (I'm really frustrated by Bruce's low batting avg) instead. Facts can and will be tested in a public forum.

TheNext44
04-27-2010, 01:45 PM
In my opinion, there's really no reason to worry about new stats that you don't fully get. If they are worthwhile, they will be come part of the language of the sport. If not, they will fade away.

I am sure that fans were confused and some probably rejected ERA, BA and SLG when they first started being used. The same for OPS, WHIP and K/BB when they first appeared. I know that I was confused by the last three and it took me awhile before I understood them and was able to use them myself. The same will happen with wOBA, tERA and UZR/150 if they stand the test of time.

My only issue with the new stats is that I wish they would come up with better and easier to remember acronyms. ERA makes sense, earned runs allowed, but what does wOBA stand for and why is the "w" lowercase? I'm sure there is a reason, but it really isn't that hard to come up with simple and easy to use acronyms.

dougdirt
04-27-2010, 01:48 PM
In my opinion, there's really no reason to worry about new stats that you don't fully get. If they are worthwhile, they will be come part of the language of the sport. If not, they will fade away.

I am sure that fans were confused and some probably rejected ERA, BA and SLG when they first started being used. The same for OPS, WHIP and K/BB when they first appeared. I know that I was confused by the last three and it took me awhile before I understood them and was able to use them myself. The same will happen with wOBA, tERA and UZR/150 if they stand the test of time.

My only issue with the new stats is that I wish they would come up with better and easier to remember acronyms. ERA makes sense, earned runs allowed, but what does wOBA stand for and why is the "w" lowercase? I'm sure there is a reason, but it really isn't that hard to come up with simple and easy to use acronyms.
wOBA is weighted On-Base-Average. I am not sure what you mean by easier to use acronyms though.... its not like wOBA stands for Runners allowed to cross home plate. Each letter lines up with a word it represents.

Brutus
04-27-2010, 01:48 PM
In my opinion, there's really no reason to worry about new stats that you don't fully get. If they are worthwhile, they will be come part of the language of the sport. If not, they will fade away.

I am sure that fans were confused and some probably rejected ERA, BA and SLG when they first started being used. The same for OPS, WHIP and K/BB when they first appeared. I know that I was confused by the last three and it took me awhile before I understood them and was able to use them myself. The same will happen with wOBA, tERA and UZR/150 if they stand the test of time.

My only issue with the new stats is that I wish they would come up with better and easier to remember acronyms. ERA makes sense, earned runs allowed, but what does wOBA stand for and why is the "w" lowercase? I'm sure there is a reason, but it really isn't that hard to come up with simple and easy to use acronyms.

"w" usually stands for weighted. It's lowercase, I think, to show it's a form of on base average.

TheNext44
04-27-2010, 01:59 PM
wOBA is weighted On-Base-Average. I am not sure what you mean by easier to use acronyms though.... its not like wOBA stands for Runners allowed to cross home plate. Each letter lines up with a word it represents.

Thank you. I did not know that. :thumbup:

But I still don't know what weighted on base average means. At least, I can't watch a game and figure out how to apply it to what I am watching... yet.

Hoosier Red
04-27-2010, 02:10 PM
Some people also use stats to learn more about a game they are passionate about.

I imagine all fans do that. RMR summed it up better than I did. The stats do those things.

RedsManRick
04-27-2010, 02:14 PM
"w" usually stands for weighted. It's lowercase, I think, to show it's a form of on base average.

Fangraphs uses "w" in front of their pitch value metrics to denote runs above average. I find that quite confusing because I interpret it as weighted as well...

A lowercase "x" usually stands for "expected".

I think it's funny that people think of batting average as simple. We should distinguish between "easy concept" and "simple formula". Once we get beyond simple counting of events, it gets messy quickly. At that point, it's just a matter of familiarity and comfort.

The concept of AVG is easy to understand, "how often does they guy get a hit when he gets the chance to do so." The calculation is less so. We think of it as just H/AB, but the calculation is complex if you don't have those things calculated for you. Even though the batter hit the ball in to play and reached base, we don't give him credit for a hit if it was a sacrifice, a fielder's choice or an error (subjectively assigned). For AB, we have to take all times the guy came up to bat and subtract out a bunch of different things that can happen.

At that point, I'm forced to wonder, what does batting average really even matter at all? Why should I care about it? What question about a player does it answer other than one which defined explicitly by the definition of the metric? If it's about a certain skill, is there a better way to measure that skill? If it's about measuring the past, why exclude walks? If it's about value, why lump together HR and singles?

Yet we don't often think of these things. We just accept AVG as a "good" measure of a player's ability to contribute to his team scoring runs and move on. But this is only because the math is done for us and we've grown up seeing AVG on the back of baseball cards. It feels simple and intuitive and we've internalized it. But we don't want to recognize it's severe limitations. We want to be able to use it wherever we can.

Interestingly, many of the other stats that are considered "advanced" really are similar to batting average in this way. The concepts are simple but the math is a little complicated. But once you understand the concept and know where to find the data, it's no easier or harder to use than batting average or slugging.

If we can move past the math and focus on the concepts, it becomes much easier to work with. Imagine if you tried to learn batting average or slugging by looking at the formula. I think a good way to move forward is for people to ask more questions rather than just make assertions. If you make an assertion, be clear about what you are saying and ask whether or not the stat you're using actually measures that thing. It takes some practice, but pretty quickly you realize that some of the questions we ask and try to answer are more complex than we want them to be. We want to ask hard questions and get easy answers. Unfortunately, we can't have it both ways. So if we want to keep asking hard questions, we should at least do the prep work so that we can take full advantage of the work of the people who are tackling these things in a rigorous way.

I personally would be happy to help people understand any of the metrics I use when making my arguments. I realize I can be a bit short at times, but if people are willing to learn, I'm happy to try and be the teacher where I can. And if people aren't willing to engage, I reserve my right to state my objections & disagreements in a reasonably polite and respectful manner.

westofyou
04-27-2010, 02:14 PM
I am sure that fans were confused and some probably rejected ERA, BA and SLG when they first started being used.

Prior to the 1870’s a box score would often only display the outs a player made and the errors he committed, this focused on the battle between the batter and the fielders, as the game quickened the battle became more between the batter and the pitchers, with this came the need to measure the batters ability to succeed against the hurler.

In 1871 H.A Dobson of Washington devise a formula that he used to measure the effectiveness of batters in single contest or over a span of contests. So enamored with his formula he sent a letter to Henry Chadwick the preeminent Baseball statistician and the inventor of the box score. Within a year Chadwick fully endorsed the formula, a simple one that divided the players hits into their total at bats for a sum called "batting average" In the 1872 Beadle Guide of Baseball Chadwick wrote of batting average, "One is erroneous, one is right."

By 1874 base hits were showing up in box scores.

RBI's actually had a higher hill to scale.

First debated as a viable stat in the 1880's the run batted in disappeared into the background of baseball stats until the 1920’s. However it was adored and kept alive by one Ernie Lanigan, New York Press baseball editor, who labeled them as "Runs Responsible For" and kept track of them in the daily sports section of the Press. Ernie also is credited with starting “This Day in Baseball” as a newspaper item. A true stats nut, Ernie is responsible for keeping track of every player in baseballs RBI's from 1907-1920.

He also had this to say about the game:


"I don't really care much about baseball, or looking at ballgames. All my interest in baseball is in statistics."

I find a certain irony in this, for if any stat is held in disdain by stats folk I would have to say that RBI's is the winner without a doubt.

nate
04-27-2010, 02:14 PM
My only issue with the new stats is that I wish they would come up with better and easier to remember acronyms. ERA makes sense, earned runs allowed, but what does wOBA stand for and why is the "w" lowercase? I'm sure there is a reason, but it really isn't that hard to come up with simple and easy to use acronyms.

But the only reason you know what ERA means is due to tradition. Otherwise, it means "Equal Rights Amendment" or signifies a period of time...loudly.

:cool:

dougdirt
04-27-2010, 02:17 PM
I am kind of combining threads but RMR made a post on the Howard thread that said in effect Ryan Howard is being paid like a 5 win player while he has only been a 5 win player once in his career. Im not disputing that curious as to what a true 5 win player is. If Ryan Howard is the glue that keeps the best team in the NL together over the next 2-3 years then it may be worth to pay him that contract. If you can get 3 playoff appearances and one WS championship over the course of Howards contract then I am sure Philly will think the contract is worth it. I still think Philly paid the piper to keep this team together for another 2-3 years but that is the price they had to pay. But it gets back to my original point/question, what is a 5 win player?

In baseball, thanks to the pythagorean theorum, we know that for every +/- 10 runs a team has over a full season, its worth roughly 1 win beyond 81 (or below 81 for negative runs). Since we can attribute a teams run total to each player, we can break it down to the value of each player, in terms of 'Wins Above a Replacement player' (WAR).
Dave Cameron did an excellent series of articles on WAR over at Fan Graphs that anyone with interest should read (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/glossary/#winvalues).

Essentially though, an X win player is just saying how valuable, in team wins that the player is versus any regular AAA player called up (there is an assumed baseline level of skill involved here).

So when someone says Ryan Howard is was a 5 win player, its essentially saying that Ryan Howard was worth an additional 5 wins for the Phillies over an every day AAA call up type player. To get into how that is calculated and figured, go read the link I posted above.

Brutus
04-27-2010, 02:24 PM
In baseball, thanks to the pythagorean theorum, we know that for every +/- 10 runs a team has over a full season, its worth roughly 1 win beyond 81 (or below 81 for negative runs). Since we can attribute a teams run total to each player, we can break it down to the value of each player, in terms of 'Wins Above a Replacement player' (WAR).
Dave Cameron did an excellent series of articles on WAR over at Fan Graphs that anyone with interest should read (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/glossary/#winvalues).

Essentially though, an X win player is just saying how valuable, in team wins that the player is versus any regular AAA player called up (there is an assumed baseline level of skill involved here).

So when someone says Ryan Howard is was a 5 win player, its essentially saying that Ryan Howard was worth an additional 5 wins for the Phillies over an every day AAA call up type player. To get into how that is calculated and figured, go read the link I posted above.

One small addendum to this: he would be a 5-win player over replacement, so essentially the baseline wouldn't be 81 wins, but rather what a team of replacements from AAA would win over the course of a season - somewhere in the neighborhood of 38-40 wins.

yab1112
04-27-2010, 02:36 PM
I've never really gotten serious about stats and similar to the OP, I find myself lost in many threads. I think a good starting point for myself (and anyone else looking to be able to understand and contribute to stats-geared threads) would be an understanding of what constitutes good or bad for the relevant stats. What's a good WHIP? What's a below average BABIP?

Maybe someone could make a thread with this information? A sticky, quick reference guide for beginners. I realize it wouldn't be a replacement for understanding how the stats work, it would just be a starting point.

dougdirt
04-27-2010, 02:41 PM
I've never really gotten serious about stats and similar to the OP, I find myself lost in many threads. I think a good starting point for myself (and anyone else looking to be able to understand and contribute to stats-geared threads) would be an understanding of what constitutes good or bad for the relevant stats. What's a good WHIP? What's a below average BABIP?

Maybe someone could make a thread with this information? A sticky, quick reference guide for beginners. I realize it wouldn't be a replacement for understanding how the stats work, it would just be a starting point.

I guess the issue goes further than that. BABIP is generally .300 league wide, but players tend to control it some with their line drive rates. Pitchers on the flip side don't have much control over it with a few exceptions. WHIP is also one of those stats where there are different 'good' and 'bad' depending on the role of the player. A good WHIP for a starter is different than for a reliever. It is different for a #1 and a #3 and a #5. The same can be said for most stats. A good OPS is different for each position because you should be compared to your positional peers. An .800 OPS from a catcher or shortstop is awesome. From a first baseman, its well below average.

Chip R
04-27-2010, 02:49 PM
I've never really gotten serious about stats and similar to the OP, I find myself lost in many threads. I think a good starting point for myself (and anyone else looking to be able to understand and contribute to stats-geared threads) would be an understanding of what constitutes good or bad for the relevant stats. What's a good WHIP? What's a below average BABIP?



I think that's an excellent point. We know .300 is a good batting average, 100 RBIs and 30 Hrs are the gold standard for those two stats. Of course this has been drilled into us as baseball fans since we were old enough to understand stats. But we're not always sure on some of the newer stats. Some, on here and elsewhere, have tried to give us a benchmark for those stats but it's easy to forget when you haven't had it drilled into you forever. I think it would help to have some of these stats explained to us so we can understand them and the game better. Of course we don't want to have someone explain it every time one of those stats are used.

nate
04-27-2010, 02:54 PM
I've never really gotten serious about stats and similar to the OP, I find myself lost in many threads. I think a good starting point for myself (and anyone else looking to be able to understand and contribute to stats-geared threads) would be an understanding of what constitutes good or bad for the relevant stats. What's a good WHIP? What's a below average BABIP?

Maybe someone could make a thread with this information? A sticky, quick reference guide for beginners. I realize it wouldn't be a replacement for understanding how the stats work, it would just be a starting point.

That would be a most excellent thread to start.

RedsManRick
04-27-2010, 03:03 PM
I find a certain irony in this, for if any stat is held in disdain by stats folk I would have to say that RBI's is the winner without a doubt.

I think this story highlights my (admittedly long) point above. Stats can only be judged in the context in which they're used. As a part of a box score to help the reader understand what happened, it's not a bad little stat. It's helps paint a picture of what occurred.

It's only when you try to use RBI as a way to figure out which player has contributed more to his team's overall success or which player is better in the abstract that I get all hot & bothered.

When it comes to using stats, there is no good or bad, better or worse; just stats that are more useful or less useful given what you're trying to learn or say.

yab1112
04-27-2010, 03:11 PM
I guess the issue goes further than that. BABIP is generally .300 league wide, but players tend to control it some with their line drive rates. Pitchers on the flip side don't have much control over it with a few exceptions. WHIP is also one of those stats where there are different 'good' and 'bad' depending on the role of the player. A good WHIP for a starter is different than for a reliever. It is different for a #1 and a #3 and a #5. The same can be said for most stats. A good OPS is different for each position because you should be compared to your positional peers. An .800 OPS from a catcher or shortstop is awesome. From a first baseman, its well below average.

I see your point. It's a lot more involved than I thought (I wasn't aware of any of that info :eek:). Maybe a collaboration? Different stat-minded posters can pick one stat each instead of one person having to go through all of it.


Some, on here and elsewhere, have tried to give us a benchmark for those stats but it's easy to forget when you haven't had it drilled into you forever.

Thank you. That's the word I spent ten minutes staring at my computer screen trying to think of. :p:

Chip R
04-27-2010, 03:19 PM
Bill Simmons had a column a few weeks ago about how he's getting on board with the newer stats.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100402

IslandRed
04-27-2010, 03:40 PM
Going back to savafan's initial post:

Personally, I have two distinct spheres of fandom. One is following baseball and the Reds in general. The other is actually watching the Reds play. I subscribe to Baseball Prospectus and read as much of the new-school stuff as I have time for, and it's informed my ability to follow the game dramatically. It certainly flavors how I read and post here on RedsZone. But it hasn't affected how I watch a Reds game in any meaningful way. And I prefer talking baseball to arguing over it. Life's hard enough. :cool:

There was a thread several weeks ago about moving the so-called casual fan beyond batting average and ERA to more advanced metrics. As I said then, the first hurdle to clear isn't to teach them the new metrics, it's to convince them why they should even care. For the true casual fan, I don't think there's enough payoff to make it worth the trouble. (One could argue that, by definition, going deeper into the stats makes you a more-than-casual fan.) They'll end up with the same opinions of 22 or 23 of the 25 guys on the team, they'll just use different acronyms to justify them. (And anyway, for most of us, we use statistics in the same way -- to borrow an old line -- as a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.) Even for more involved statheads, there's a sliding scale at which the distinctions no longer make enough difference for us to truly care.