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Around the Yankees Galaxy 9/16/2010

Joe Posnanksi has an extremely well thought out, thorough, and funny argument in favor of WAR, and I think you can extend this to sabermetrics as a whole. 

Sabermetrics isn't about thumbing your nose at tradition.  It isn't about saying that the MVP or Cy Young award is stupid.  At the same time, though, I think some of the harshest critics of sabermetrics - specifically, old school baseball writers - take their stance out of little more than unjustified self-importance and arrogance. 

Reading this makes me think about some of the comments from jscape's Fire Girardi thread yesterday.  Look at it this way: our understanding of things always changes (and usually improves).  And that's the point of sabermetrics.  It's about not falling back on old axioms like "fast runners should bat leadoff" or "you should always sac bunt with a runner on first late in a tie game", but rather turning your brain on and asking "why".  Good things tend to happen when people do this.  Progress tends to happen. 

The gambling analogy is apt, because baseball is a strategic, odds-based game in a lot of ways.  You could split 2s or double down on a 16 in blackjack if you really wanted too, and you might even win occasionally, but you won't win consistently, or win enough to offset your losses.  Put Chad Gaudin in 50 tie games on the road and you're going to wind up with more losses than wins.  Force Curtis Granderson to sac bunt 50 times and you're going to wind up scoring fewer runs than if you let him swing the bat 50 times.  Just because you got a favorable outcome one time does not mean the odds were in your favor. 

Baseball is fun because it's unpredictable, because it's played by humans, not robots.  But the "human element" shouldn't be an excuse for making poor decisions, or making the same mistakes repetitively simply because they've been made repetitively for years. 


  • It's About The Money talks about why Jon Paul Morosi is lazy, and why CC Sabathia probably doesn't deserve the Cy Young award.
  • River Avenue Blues makes a strong case for Ivan Nova in the postseason bullpen (not the rotation).  Specifically in place of Chad Gaudin.  And I think they're right.  What this also means is that, reluctantly, Burnett has to be in the playoff rotation.  He's been horribly inconsistent this season, but I think his ceiling in any given start is much higher than Nova's, while the worst-case outcome is probably equal for both.