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Thread: Saberholics anonymous

  1. #1
    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Saberholics anonymous

    Welcome to the first meeting of SA. I'm Kyle and I'm addicted to sabermetrics.

    I'm curious to hear how everyone got crunk on stats.

    For me, sabermetrics can be summed very simply: in the form of the serenity prayer.

    God grant the ability to accept the things that cannot be changed (luck), courage to change the things that can (skill) and the wisdom to know the difference (sample size).

    If ever there is a happy place where stats meet scouting, I try to live in that place. Baseball, though less dynamic than say football or basketball, is still a game of people with slumps, emotions and a human element with other psychological and physical factors that come into play beyond just talent. Games, after all, are not played on paper.

    Nonetheless, sabermetrics have fascinated me. They've awakened me to the game in ways I'd never considered. Allow me, if you will, to share my own personal perspective. I'll share my story in the chronological form of a typical 12-stepper.

    1. Admit that we have a problem

    When I first heard of this new movement, here at Redszone about 4 years ago, actually, I likened it to a cult. It was radical, creepy and the followers clung to their beliefs like white on rice.

    I mean really... telling me batting average wasn't the most indicative measurement of hitting ability? Why don't you just tell me Santa Claus doesn't exist while you're at it?

    At the behest of Cyclone suggesting to someone, in all things an Adam Dunn debate, that they run correlation of Runs Created to actual runs scored, I was tempted to do the same. I'm always up for a spreadsheet project, and I never have anything important to do anyhow.

    I tested 15 seasons of data. And lord have mercy my eyes were astonished.

    .94

    OK. So perhaps batting average isn't the most important thing...

    Suddenly, my resolve was shaken. Doors were opened to new concepts.

    Speed wasn't all that important at the top of the order. Clutch hitting may not exist. Pitchers don't have much control of the ball after it makes contact with the bat. Adam Dunn is the most polarizing figure since Abe Lincoln. Murphy's law applies to baseball - what goes up must come down.

    I was familiarized with a new secret language.

    Regression to the mean. Strawman arguments. True talent level. Luck. Skill. Out machine.

    I learned the alphabet soup of new stats and that AARP is not just for old people, but probably some kind of Baseball Prospectus measurement.

    I slowly started to fully embrace many of these concepts. Well, I still believe in clutch hitting. I think in life there are some that display an ability to perform better under pressure than others, and they're not always the same ones performing at a high level under ordinary circumstances. That said, the trick is being able to quantify such a broad ideal. But I digress.

    I began learning more about these stats and started making amends with the lunatics I dismissed as spreading a bunch of mumbo jumbo. OK, so really that involved only one friend that had already been talking about these weird stats. But I did fess up to him that I started thinking there was more to his crazy ways than I'd previously led on.

    But now, for the past year, I've been in full step-12 mode of recovery - or as I see it - enlightenment.

    In all seriousness, I'm curious how people came to learn about sabermetrics, what they think of them philosophically and how they apply them to the game.

    I still believe in things like batting average. I still believe a strikeout is bad. I still like speedy guys with good bat control. But my approach has changed thanks to a better (not perfect) understanding. Now I know on-base percentage is more important. Strikeouts can be tolerated with power and speed is good but again, getting on base is key.

    Sabermetrics is kind of like a library. It can be a wealth of information and could help you in a variety of ways - but is more valuable a resource if you know what you're looking for. Like my SABR buddy RedsManRick says... it really depends what you're trying to accomplish. Measure performance? Determine skill? Compare abilities or production? Or determine likely results in a predictive sense? It's a smorgasbord of possibilities.

    Look forward to your testimonies and thanks to my unknowing sponsor, cyclone (ha ha).
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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  3. #2
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    I'm still in the state of denial, I'm a true believer in most of the newer offensive metrics, I have my doubts about many of the defensive measures. I'm not real fond of math so I can't really be a stat head, can I?

    One thing I'm sure of is that I'm very glad to have found this web site.

    I'll always be grateful to members like SteelSD, Raisor, MWM, Woy, and many others who took the time to explain and help me better understand this broad new frontier of Baseball.

    This might not be the thread to do this in but I'd like to thank the Saber members of RedsZone for helping me look at this Team and The Game I love so much with an open mind.

    Thank You RedsZone.
    Last edited by Ron Madden; 04-29-2010 at 03:44 AM.

  4. #3
    We Need Our Myths reds1869's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    I have been obsessed with baseball since the very first time I stepped onto a field. My playing days are long gone but that just gives me more time to follow the game, right? I joined SABR several years ago and have become more and more interested in sabermetrics since. I read BP, Fangraphs, Hadball Times and every other site I can get my hands on (and of course the very best, Reds Zone). Statistical analysis adds new layers of understanding to a beautiful game. The numbers game perfectly complements the mystical game and makes me enjoy baseball even more.

  5. #4
    Bread Gloves Razor Shines's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    I wish when I was playing I would have understood the goal of a hitter was not "to put the ball in play", but to avoid an out.
    "three dimes, a one hundred dollar bill and and 87 ones..."

  6. #5
    Blowing away bad memories Redsfan320's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    I'm not sure about Sabermetrics. While certainly some traditional stats are flawed, and their Sm replacements seem better, you can only quantify a human game so much before it gets silly.

    320

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    Red's fan mbgrayson's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Note my current signature...lol.

    I like the newer stats. Yes, they are imperfect and evolving, particularly the fielding stats. Still, to me, they add a certain richness and layer of complexity to the game that I like. Maybe it's just a fancy way to be able to disagree with on the field decisions and have some false sense of superiority, who knows.

    Still I like stats...but I can't join the stataholics group, because I don't want to quit. I can control my statishness, I swear. I could quit whenever I wanted to....
    __________________
    "I think he'd be unbelievable. He's as organized as anyone in the game, he holds people accountable... He doesn't buy into stereotypical things in the game... Price looks at evidence. He's a freaking smart guy, he makes his decision on reasonable evidence." Bronson Arroyo

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    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by Razor Shines View Post
    I wish when I was playing I would have understood the goal of a hitter was not "to put the ball in play", but to avoid an out.
    In a way though, if you accept that what happens in the field of play is largely out of the hitter's control, it's not a bad logic even by today's standards. Short of hitting a home run or drawing a walk, putting the ball in play is the best way of avoiding an out. You put the pressure on the defense to make plays, and if they don't, that's how you get on base and avoid such outs.

    I always got stuck with some pretty so-so coaches growing up. But I think all of them were pretty practical about telling me to put the ball in play - but accept a walk if you don't get anything good to hit. I would guess that's how most people are.
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

  9. #8
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutus the Pimp View Post
    In a way though, if you accept that what happens in the field of play is largely out of the hitter's control, it's not a bad logic even by today's standards. Short of hitting a home run or drawing a walk, putting the ball in play is the best way of avoiding an out. You put the pressure on the defense to make plays, and if they don't, that's how you get on base and avoid such outs.

    I always got stuck with some pretty so-so coaches growing up. But I think all of them were pretty practical about telling me to put the ball in play - but accept a walk if you don't get anything good to hit. I would guess that's how most people are.
    I think this idea gets lost in the gray area. Generally speaking, contact is ideal. But getting another pitch is better than making crappy contact.

    That's the message I wish I had heard. Instead I got, "if you can think you can hit it, hit it" and I constantly struck out on high and outside pitches that I thought I had a chance of making contact with.

    The more I learn about sabermetrics the more I realize that early axioms are pretty spot on. What screwed things up was the development and popularization of the stats on the back of baseball cards changing people's priorities.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  10. #9
    Bread Gloves Razor Shines's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I think this idea gets lost in the gray area. Generally speaking, contact is ideal. But getting another pitch is better than making crappy contact.

    That's the message I wish I had heard. Instead I got, "if you can think you can hit it, hit it" and I constantly struck out on high and outside pitches that I thought I had a chance of making contact with.

    Yeah, this is what I meant, kind of.

    I rarely, RARELY walked but I also rarely struck out. In high school I struck out 2 or 3 times a year, in college maybe 7 or 8 times. I hated walks almost as much as I hated strike outs. I didn't really get deep into counts so I got myself out on pitcher's pitches just because I wanted to get the ball in play. If I'd have realized that walks were my friend and not been afraid of strike outs I could have been more patient and gotten more meat balls that I could drive. I was everything I hate about baseball players now, lol.

    I wish I had been a member of Redszone back then and been able to read posts by Cyclone, RMR etc....
    "three dimes, a one hundred dollar bill and and 87 ones..."

  11. #10
    Member Cedric's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutus the Pimp View Post
    Welcome to the first meeting of SA. I'm Kyle and I'm addicted to sabermetrics.

    I'm curious to hear how everyone got crunk on stats.

    For me, sabermetrics can be summed very simply: in the form of the serenity prayer.

    God grant the ability to accept the things that cannot be changed (luck), courage to change the things that can (skill) and the wisdom to know the difference (sample size).

    If ever there is a happy place where stats meet scouting, I try to live in that place. Baseball, though less dynamic than say football or basketball, is still a game of people with slumps, emotions and a human element with other psychological and physical factors that come into play beyond just talent. Games, after all, are not played on paper.

    Nonetheless, sabermetrics have fascinated me. They've awakened me to the game in ways I'd never considered. Allow me, if you will, to share my own personal perspective. I'll share my story in the chronological form of a typical 12-stepper.

    1. Admit that we have a problem

    When I first heard of this new movement, here at Redszone about 4 years ago, actually, I likened it to a cult. It was radical, creepy and the followers clung to their beliefs like white on rice.

    I mean really... telling me batting average wasn't the most indicative measurement of hitting ability? Why don't you just tell me Santa Claus doesn't exist while you're at it?

    At the behest of Cyclone suggesting to someone, in all things an Adam Dunn debate, that they run correlation of Runs Created to actual runs scored, I was tempted to do the same. I'm always up for a spreadsheet project, and I never have anything important to do anyhow.

    I tested 15 seasons of data. And lord have mercy my eyes were astonished.

    .94

    OK. So perhaps batting average isn't the most important thing...

    Suddenly, my resolve was shaken. Doors were opened to new concepts.

    Speed wasn't all that important at the top of the order. Clutch hitting may not exist. Pitchers don't have much control of the ball after it makes contact with the bat. Adam Dunn is the most polarizing figure since Abe Lincoln. Murphy's law applies to baseball - what goes up must come down.

    I was familiarized with a new secret language.

    Regression to the mean. Strawman arguments. True talent level. Luck. Skill. Out machine.

    I learned the alphabet soup of new stats and that AARP is not just for old people, but probably some kind of Baseball Prospectus measurement.

    I slowly started to fully embrace many of these concepts. Well, I still believe in clutch hitting. I think in life there are some that display an ability to perform better under pressure than others, and they're not always the same ones performing at a high level under ordinary circumstances. That said, the trick is being able to quantify such a broad ideal. But I digress.

    I began learning more about these stats and started making amends with the lunatics I dismissed as spreading a bunch of mumbo jumbo. OK, so really that involved only one friend that had already been talking about these weird stats. But I did fess up to him that I started thinking there was more to his crazy ways than I'd previously led on.

    But now, for the past year, I've been in full step-12 mode of recovery - or as I see it - enlightenment.

    In all seriousness, I'm curious how people came to learn about sabermetrics, what they think of them philosophically and how they apply them to the game.

    I still believe in things like batting average. I still believe a strikeout is bad. I still like speedy guys with good bat control. But my approach has changed thanks to a better (not perfect) understanding. Now I know on-base percentage is more important. Strikeouts can be tolerated with power and speed is good but again, getting on base is key.

    Sabermetrics is kind of like a library. It can be a wealth of information and could help you in a variety of ways - but is more valuable a resource if you know what you're looking for. Like my SABR buddy RedsManRick says... it really depends what you're trying to accomplish. Measure performance? Determine skill? Compare abilities or production? Or determine likely results in a predictive sense? It's a smorgasbord of possibilities.

    Look forward to your testimonies and thanks to my unknowing sponsor, cyclone (ha ha).
    Just admit that defensive metrics are worthless and you are starting well.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

  12. #11
    So Long Uncle Joe BoydsOfSummer's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Sabermetrics help me enjoy games and players I don't get to watch.

    For me it would be like only enjoying half of the game.

    I can credit Billy James, Strat-o-matic and APBA for getting me jump started in the ealrly 80's.
    0 Value Over Replacement Poster


    "Sit over here next to Johnathan (Bench)...sit right here, he's smart."--Sparky Anderson

  13. #12
    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I think this idea gets lost in the gray area. Generally speaking, contact is ideal. But getting another pitch is better than making crappy contact.

    That's the message I wish I had heard. Instead I got, "if you can think you can hit it, hit it" and I constantly struck out on high and outside pitches that I thought I had a chance of making contact with.

    The more I learn about sabermetrics the more I realize that early axioms are pretty spot on. What screwed things up was the development and popularization of the stats on the back of baseball cards changing people's priorities.
    I agree with the first paragraph, but "pick a good one" has been around for a long time and its not really a SABR revelation.
    "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." --BABE RUTH

    Having better players makes "the right time" or "the big hit" happen a lot more often. PLUS PLUS

  14. #13
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by mth123 View Post
    I agree with the first paragraph, but "pick a good one" has been around for a long time and its not really a SABR revelation.
    How can it be when a good one was asked for high, or low until 1886

  15. #14
    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    Just admit that defensive metrics are worthless and you are starting well.
    That's starting off on the wrong foot.
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

  16. #15
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Saberholics anonymous

    Colin Wyers over at BP just posted a very interesting article on the topic. Available to anybody here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...rticleid=10722

    Snippet:
    So at the very heart of sabermetrics you have this idea of doubt, the persistent questioning of what we know and how well we know it. And then we compound that doubt with questions about how well what we know addresses the question at hand.

    What we end up with is two fundamental truths - what matters is how much something contributes to wins and losses (or at least runs scored and runs allowed, which are the building blocks of wins and losses), and that a player's contributions to wins and losses are shaped by the contributions of his teammates. (Even in "context neutral" measures of performance, such as True Average, what we are considering is how a player's efforts impact the wins and losses of an average team, or at least an abstraction of an average team.)

    Circling back around to the subject of RBI again, let us concede that an RBI is a recording of a fact - the fact that it was a specific player's turn to bat when a run scored. Now, we know that all else being equal, runs tend to score more often when good hitters are at bat - as a group, good hitters tend to have more RBIs then bad hitters. But we know that it's also a function of opportunities, both in the number of times at the plate a hitter gets and the number of runners on base when a hitter comes to bat. (As well, it's a function of what base those runners are on.) So an RBI is measuring at least two factors - the quality of a hitter and the quality of his opportunities. What a sabermetrician does is seek to distinguish the two, and evaluate a hitter's quality independent of his opportunities.

    When we say a hitter "batted in a run," we reduce the complicated (and, in my opinion, beautiful) mechanism of how an offense scores runs to a simple, flawed and pointless abstraction. It's no more "real" than the abstractions that sabermetricians use, it's just a lot less expressive. It doesn't take into account how players get on base to score, how other players move them over to put them in better position to score, or how players avoid outs to give other players more times at the plate and more chances to drive in runs.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.


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