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Thread: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    I like the inherited runs stranded stat, #5 on his list, but the first four ideas drip of a baseball writer struggling to think of something to write about after the season ends.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    I think Joe recognizes the real issue but sort of ignores it.

    For most people, it has never been an issue of the stats making sense or not. As Joe explains, the stats people hesitate to give up are just as convoluted as the new ones. Try explaining batting average fully in one sentence. Considering it'll take a paragraph to explain "at bat", good luck.

    As Joe points out, our ability to appreciate the game is rooted in our knowledge of the language of the game. The Lincecum/Hamilton match-up isn't all that exciting merely from an aesthetic perspective, not in the way football and basketball are. It's exciting because I know that Hamilton is one of the best in the game at getting hits Lincecum one of the best at getting strikeouts. The stats I know provide this context.

    What us sabermetric types are doing is asking people to give up the "language" of the game they grew up with. It's saying "your knowledge doesn't count" and "you are enjoying the wrong things". People in every walk of life react poorly in this situation -- to the point that they will do anything to defend and justify their existing viewpoint. Nobody wants to be devalued. But even then, do people really believe batting average and RBI better captures run production than OPS and RC? I don't think so -- they just don't care.

    For most fans, the stats have never been about getting closer to absolute truth. It's about having a framework for enjoying the game. We've historically measured the things that are exciting -- the action. And this is the primary disconnect. People love RBI not because it's such an accurate measure of run production. They love it because it captures an event where something exciting happened. Jonny Gomes was involved in a lot of exciting plays this year, had a lot of RBI, and he stands out in peoples minds for it.

    Getting a new language that more accurately portions out credit won't increase most people's enjoyment of the game. It won't make a bloop single less exciting nor a walk more exciting, even if they're worth the same amount from a run perspective. In fact, in some cases, the new language tells people that they're getting excited over stuff that's meaningless in the big picture. What's the fun in that?

    The tension arises, when we want to do something other than enjoy a game we're watching or a season reliving through conversation. When we start trying to be the GM, the accounting matters. Historically, the excitement based language was the best for both purposes.

    Sabermetrics is showing that it's not. Sure, exciting events strongly correlate with winning baseball, but not perfectly. It's time to recognize that reality -- and recognize that neither way of looking at the game is "right". It depends on what you're trying to do.

    Any conversation about what stats we "should" be using needs to recognize what the stats are being used for to begin with. Otherwise, we're just talking past each other.

    Stats like RBI and AVG have their place. WPA is a great one to add alongside it. But us sabermetric types need to stop pushing OBP on people who want their stat to describe how often a guy gets a hit. But similarly, those fans need to recognize that the stats they grew up with aren't ideal for doing the accounting behind the scenes. Unfortunately, there will always be cases where these worlds clash -- MVP voting for example. Without clarification, it will continue to mean different things to different people. It would be nice if we could simply recognize that and move on.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 11-01-2010 at 03:53 PM.
    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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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Ray View Post
    ...the first four ideas drip of a baseball writer struggling to think of something to write about after the season ends.
    I agree. Joe P. is a great writer, but this article and his "I hate the wildcard because it screws up 2-team pennant races" piece were way below par.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    For most fans, the stats have never been about getting closer to absolute truth. It's about learning a framework for enjoying the game. We love RBI because it allows us to have an opinion, to love Manny Ramirez or Jonny Gomes. Some of us crave the absolute truth, we're just wired that way; most people ultimately don't. Getting a new language won't provide them any additional enjoyment. It won't make a homer more exciting. In fact, in some cases it's telling them that they're getting excited over stuff that's meaningless in the big picture. And ultimately, I think that's the real issue.

    Stats don't have to be simple to explain for people to adopt them and gain an emotional attachment to them. Rather, they do have to align with the personal experience of watching the game. Look at what we measure now. We measure the things that are exciting -- the action. At the most simplistic level, good players do exciting things. Sure, those things strongly correlate with winning baseball, but not perfectly.

    People use stats because they provide a way to capture and relive the excitement. For most people, it never has been about accurate accounting of run production and prevention and it never will be. If your new stats don't improve upon our ability to enjoy the game, they're just a distraction.

    Any conversation about what stats we "should" be using needs to recognize what the stats are being used for to begin with. Otherwise, we're just talking past each other.
    Outstanding post.

    In my view, so much of the new stats' failure to allure is in the wastebasket to which it assigns a lot of the action -- luck. What we see is interesting for a variety of reasons associated with our senses and our emotions (the pitcher has a quirky delivery, the batter has a vicious swing, the winning run scores on a dramatic play, etc.). The search for "absolute truth" is an intellectual exercise that attempts to transcend sensory and emotional data, in order to find, some would say, the spirit of the game, while others find it soulless, stripped of so much that is human in the game.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Focus on the problems that the method presents, rather than focusing on the potential it has. That just blocks you from learning.

    Bill James

    1983 Baseball Abstract

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Outstanding post.

    In my view, so much of the new stats' failure to allure is in the wastebasket to which it assigns a lot of the action -- luck. What we see is interesting for a variety of reasons associated with our senses and our emotions (the pitcher has a quirky delivery, the batter has a vicious swing, the winning run scores on a dramatic play, etc.). The search for "absolute truth" is an intellectual exercise that attempts to transcend sensory and emotional data, in order to find, some would say, the spirit of the game, while others find it soulless, stripped of so much that is human in the game.
    I think it cuts both ways. I think you're recognizing this, but I just want to clarify.

    There are different ways to enjoy stats and they're actually about enjoying different parts of the game. One is the aesthetics, the other is the mechanics. For most of baseball history, the same set of stats was used for both purposes.

    But we're learning that the set of stats we grew up, rooted in the aesthetic side, have limited application on the mechanical side of things. Many casual fans seem unwilling to concede this.

    I think we'd all be better off if we collectively recognized these different uses, talked about sabermetric stats as supplementary rather than replacements, and helped foster understanding about when to use which stats.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 11-01-2010 at 06:10 PM.
    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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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    I think it cuts both ways. I think you're recognizing this, but I just want to clarify.

    There are different ways to enjoy them and they're actually about enjoying different parts of the game. One is the aesthetics, the other is the mechanics. For most of baseball history, the same set of stats was used for both purposes.

    But we're learning that the set of stats we grew up, rooted in the aesthetic side, have limited application on the mechanical side of things. Many casual fans seem unwilling to concede this.

    I think we'd all be better off if we collectively recognized these different uses, talked about sabermetric stats as supplementary rather than replacements, and helped foster understanding about when to use which stats.
    I can buy all of this.

    In my opinion, there is a whole generation of stats still to come, more revolutionary than what we've seen. Better and more cameras will allow people to collect data that help us see with much greater precision players' skillsets and the fault line that divides skill and chance.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    I can buy all of this.

    In my opinion, there is a whole generation of stats still to come, more revolutionary than what we've seen. Better and more cameras will allow people to collect data that help us see with much greater precision players' skillsets and the fault line that divides skill and chance.
    I agree completely. We will continue to get better stats for understanding and describing the mechanics.

    I think we'll continue to improve our ability to assign credit to individual players for past performance and to predict future performance based on players' skills.

    But I don't think we should expect casual fans to accept the next generation of stats any better than they expect the current ones. The kinds of stats we're developing, increasingly accurate as they may be, continue to focus on the mechanical side of things.

    At the end of the day, most fans will continue to favor those stats which clearly describe and codify the action as they see it. Translations of those stats in to some abstract value simply are not attractive. Perhaps we can improve upon the stats we already use, particularly the pitcher win stat. But I doubt we'll ever fundamentally change the types of statistics casual fans use to describe the performances of players.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 11-01-2010 at 06:27 PM.
    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.

  11. #10
    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    James also wrote that he loved baseball stats, as opposed to stats of any other kind, because they had acquired the powers of language.

    And that goes along with what RMR wrote. The newer stats, informative and instructive though they are, don't really have that power of language except among those who are determined to learn it. And really, for someone who's enjoying the game just fine as is, there's little real-world payoff for the effort of learning the new language. It's a great second language for armchair GMs, though.
    Not all who wander are lost

  12. #11
    It's showtime! RedEye's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Quote Originally Posted by IslandRed View Post
    James also wrote that he loved baseball stats, as opposed to stats of any other kind, because they had acquired the powers of language.

    And that goes along with what RMR wrote. The newer stats, informative and instructive though they are, don't really have that power of language except among those who are determined to learn it. And really, for someone who's enjoying the game just fine as is, there's little real-world payoff for the effort of learning the new language. It's a great second language for armchair GMs, though.
    But the growth of any language is also organic--and it also takes time. I, for one, am amazed at how many people are already conversant in OBP and OPS just a few years removed from the fuss around Moneyball. Perhaps "new" stats will catch up with the mainstream faster than we might think.
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Quote Originally Posted by RedEye View Post
    But the growth of any language is also organic--and it also takes time. I, for one, am amazed at how many people are already conversant in OBP and OPS just a few years removed from the fuss around Moneyball. Perhaps "new" stats will catch up with the mainstream faster than we might think.
    I've always hoped Gross Production Average would take off because of it's intuitiveness, it's scaling to a BA like metric and a slight bit closer correlation to runs than OPS.

    Unfortunately, it hasn't gained much leverage in the culture. wOBA has picked up a bit, perhaps because Tom Tango's influence, but GPA just hasn't picked up.

    For those that are wondering, GPA is simply 1.8 times OBP plus SLG and divided by four to align almost perfectly with batting average where .300 is a real good player, .265 is about average, etc.
    "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

  14. #13
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    I've not seen or heard very many fans argue that the so called newer stats are perfect, ONLY that they may be more informative than the three (BA, HR, RBI) displayed on the scoreboard and at the bottom of our TV screens.

    Most of the arguments come from fans who honestly believe batting average is the best way to judge a hitter and W-L record and ERA are the best measurement to judge pitchers.

    I can understand clinging to the numbers we grew up believing in but whats wrong with keeping an open mind to what the newer stats might tell us?

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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    Opinions on the grand scheme of stats is well and good but what do you think about his five specific stat changes?

  16. #15
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Poz would change 5 baseball stats

    personally, I like every run average the best. A pitcher cannot control what happens behind him, for good or bad. a HR saving grab affects his ERA in a positive way, but a ball stuck in the webbing of a fielder's glove has no effect. Errors and spectacular plays happen. So count them all.

    I remember a game Reitsma started for the Reds where he gave up something like 7-8 UNEARNED runs. I knew right then he wasn't a starter. Counting every run shows the pitcher's ability to overcome that which he has little control over.

    or something like that.
    Suck it up cupcake.


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