Mood Music - Last Kiss by Pearl Jam
Writing about, analyzing, and covering sports is such a fantastic and rewarding thing to do. I spend more hours than I would care to admit researching, writing, debating, and trying to break down every angle of baseball because it is something that gives me immeasurable joy. As such, it's kind of infuriating to watch the members of the mainstream media, who aside from the ballplayers themselves, have the best job in the world, be so overrun with poor articles, backwards thinking, and archaic and false analysis.
Take this for example. The overall theme is that "winning players just win" and individual players are compared to one another based on their team records with them in the lineup. The Yankees had a higher winning percentage with Brett Gardner than they did with Derek Jeter, so Jeter isn't as much of a "winning" player as Gardner. The Yankees were 21-4 without Alex Rodriguez, so he clearly isn't a winner either. The Mets were 31-43 after Carlos Beltran returned, so he's obviously no good. These players must all lack desire, will to win, hustle, and other things your little league coach wanted from you.
I find most posts centered on intangibles with an undercurrent of "don't think about objective ways to compare players, that's stat-heads ruining the game," to be lazy and pigheaded, but this one is especially poor.
Say what you will about Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran, but does anyone with thoughts in their brain think that teams would be better off without players of that type of prodigious talent because they are lacking in winning? The level heads and quick pens of SBNation had something to say on the subject, with excellent pieces from FuquaManuel of The Good Phight and Sam Page of Amazin' Avenue putting this article in it's proper place.
Blockquotes, as well as some more standard Yankees news after the jump.
From the Good Phight article, which serves to debunk the concept that the ideas of sabermetrics that give "old-school" analysts heart attacks are anything but new age:
In 1947, then-Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, Branch Rickey--one of the game's great innovators--hired a 30-year old Canadian statistician named Allan Roth. Roth--baseball's first full-time statistician--and Rickey began to promote two new and controversial ideas: that on-base percentage was a more useful statistic than batting average, and that platoon splits exist and can be quantified. Both of these concepts are building blocks of the sabermetric discipline and have long since been absorbed into our baseball commonsense.
And following some typical Murray Chass drivel:
Chass misses a key point, however. Most reasonable proponents of sabermetrics aren't wholly wedded to the stats (like WAR, VORP, and UZR) themselves, but rather to an approach for analyzing baseball. Namely, they seek to find the metrics that are best able to express player value. Hence, there is constant discussion and debate in the SABR world about which stats are most useful for conveying specific aspects of player ability which, in turn, help us better understand their value.
The next time the SABR-bashers decry the emergence of "new-age stats," they might want to study up on the history of the game.
If only Chass and company weren't so damn allergic.
Now that I've stirred the pot, here's some other links: