Stupid People Say Stupid Things
Everyone once in a while an article so great...so tremendous...so utterly ridiculous comes along for our pure amusement. Paul Daugherty gave us such an article on Sunday.
The best baseball managing is done by the seat of your pants, using good, old-fashioned, pre-sabermetric logic. That's another reason to like Dusty Baker. (Beyond his knowledge of single-malt Scotches and Van Morrison lyrics, which is merely astounding and downright Renaissance.) If Baker manages by a book, it's one inside his head, not one written by Bill James.
The other day, the Reds manager decided he wanted Joey Votto and Adam Dunn to swing their bats more. "I don't like called third strikes," Baker said.
Can we get an Amen?
Not from me. Didn't I just make fun of the ridiculousness of that statement last week? I mean, Votto is not walk machine and already strikes out his fair share. Basically, this would seem to be a detriment to him if he tries to be less selective and it could result in less walks and more strikeouts. It seems just so silly to me, but Paul loves it.
It always amuses when fans defend heart-of-the-order hitters by pointing to their on-base percentage. Wow, look at all those walks.
Unless they're intentional walks, or the big boppers are being pitched around, walks aren't what you want from players hitting third through sixth. You want them up there smart-hacking.
OBP? Who says that? OBP is more important than batting average, but it certainly is not the main thing people concentrate on for middle of the order bats. It is a component, but not the only thing. For guys in the middle of the order, I would concentrate on OPS (if you just want to keep it really simple) or OPS+ (if you want to keep it really simple and be smarter about being simple). Now OPS is not perfect either, but it gives you a pretty good idea who is masher and who is not.
The best thing about Baker is that from all accounts, it's important to him to know his players individually: what jazzes them, what scares them, the situations that best suit their talents and temperaments. Contrary to the notions of the seamheads and stat freaks, players are not numbers.
You won't find one person who denies that players are not numbers, but there is value in balancing both. Numbers alone will not tell you if someone will shrink in New York or Boston, but who ever denied the need for getting pulse on that kind of stuff? Dusty just ignores the other side of the argument while the other side tries to fold in both. In fact, Joel Sheehan said that he could probably manage the actual Xs and Os of a game better, but could never manage a team for the fact that it is just not numbers.
Creepy Crawly (Los Angeles): Joe, shouldn’t major league GM's require that their managerial candidates play in some simulation leagues in order to develop a better sense of the value of particular strategies? I'm serious.
Joe Sheehan: If baseball teams were run like businesses, sure. Bill James first suggested this two decades ago, and he was as right then as he is now.
This also goes back to my particular hobby horse, that the job of "baseball manager" requires such disparate skills that no one man will have them all. So why not have a front guy, a Dusty Baker or someone who's a leader of men and who the media loves, and then get coordinators for the other stuff?
I'll tell you right now that I couldn't be a major-league manager. But could I (or Bill Meinhardt, or Stan Suderman, or Nate Silver) run the game decisions better than some or even most of them? I'd take that bet. Even factoring in the knowledge sets the sims don't cover, which can be learned, sim managers simply understand the "engine of baseball" better than MLB managers, as a pool.
It goes well beyond numbers, but ignoring the relevance of advanced stats is just silly. Too bad we have a manager who eschews stats and probabilities for his gut.
Anyone with a laptop can locate the Web site baseball- reference.com and sound like an expert. Anyone with a library card can pick up one of James' mind-numbing baseball "abstracts," in which the author makes the game sound like a first cousin to biomechanical engineering.
It ain't that scientific.
Who said it was that hard to get your hands on this info and sounds like an 'expert'? It is being aware of these numbers that is important and people continue to not be aware. I know nothing of advanced stats. However, I look at some sites that wrap them up for me and I use them as a tool of evaluation, which is something not only every could do, but should do.
Baseball's cerebral side involves numbers. While I believe in baseball-card wisdom - you are who the back of your card says you are - it's just a little piece of the whole. When some of us (OK, me mostly) advocated dealing, say, Votto and Homer Bailey for Oakland pitcher Joe Blanton, the Statboys came out flame-throwing numbers:
Blanton's a creation of his spacious home ballpark! Look at his ERA, home and away! Blanton's a flyball pitcher! Check out his ratio of groundballs to flies!
Steve Tracshel won 15 games in 2006. As did Roy Oswalt and Chris Carpenter. By looking at their win totals, do we get anything meaningful? Not so much. You would not need to delve deeply into the subject to figure out which name of the three does not belong, but you would have to look past wins. No one said Blanton (or Traschel for that matter) has no value, but Votto and Bailey are two of the best prospects in the game. Trading one for Blanton would be regrettable much less both.
Numbers are fun to look at but dangerous to dwell on. Baker understands this. If Dunn walks 30 fewer times this year, he'll drive in 15 more runs. His on-base percentage will dip. Oh, no.
If Votto takes fewer first-pitch strikes, his run production will improve.
And so on. Here's a stat: Wins as manager: Dusty Baker, 1,162; Bill James, 0.
Maybe Dunn might drive in a few if he was less selective and just hacked away with guys on base. I would not doubt that some people are too selective, but is Dunn one of those guys? I am not sure, but I do contest that Votto is one of those guys as stated the other day. Also, is there factual proof that hacking on the first pitch will result in higher run production? If it ain't in your wheelhouse, wait for the next one.
As for the last sentence, I know he thought he was brilliant with that one. However, he fails to mention that Bill James is gainfully employed by a pretty good baseball team that uses a blend of both sides of the argument. Overall, Daugherty just comes off as ignorant and having some kind of axe to grind and wrote a complete piece of garbage article that tells half truths and misses the entire point of advanced stats.
Advanced stats are supposed to enhance traditional baseball views, allow deeper penetration into a set of players you might not be able to see with your own eyes, but might detect something in the numbers that suggests that guy should be on your radar, allow for some meaningful projections as to what a prospective signie might do over the next five years, get a better understanding of what moves give you the best probability of winning, etc.
I'm sure this douche got a ton of email mocking him and I wish I could read some of them. He officially jumps into the Wallace Matthews and Richard Justice Hall of Fame with this one. I picked this off of Neyer's blog and someone in the comments mentioned that this guy probably has a Hall of Fame vote, which would not be all that shocking.
Also ripped off from Neyer, Joe Posnanski's take on the stathead thing.
You get the point — some will rip the whole idea of stats by bringing up … other stats. It happens every fall.
Of course, but people have to determine which stats are more meaningful which is where the divergence occurs. Paullie boy from above likes the back of the baseball cards stats, which is silly. To think that no evolution in terms of stats is possible over the last however many years is possible is utterly stupid.
The second argument is one I want to write a little bit about today — it’s a little bit more involved. There are a few people out there who hate — HATE — the idea of new statistics because we did not grow up with them. In that world, baseball is a game of batting average, home runs, RBIs, wins, ERA, maybe saves, a few runs, a sprinkle of stolen bases and maybe — MAYBE — an advanced metric like strikeout to walks ratio. Everything else is Communism.
You need to seriously go and read his column.
Blogger: I have come up with a new statistic. It involves balls put in play. I call it batting average.
Establishment: Great! How’s it work?
B: See, what we’ll do is, we’ll take the number of hits that the batter has and divide it by the number of at-bats that he has in order to determine how often he gets a hit.
E: That sounds like on-base percentage. What’s the difference?
B: Well, it’s all in what you call “at-bats” For one thing, we don’t count walks.
E: What do you mean you don’t count walks?
B: They don’t count. We take plate appearances and subtract walks. They never happened.
E: How can a walk never happen?
B: It just doesn’t.
Pure genius...read the entire thing.
Now, what does all of this mean? You already know the answer to that: Nothing. It’s not supposed to mean anything. I’m not the first, the 10th or the 100,000th person to point out that pitchers wins are flawed, and the figuring I’ve done above has been done better by countless people. I’m only trying to say that people statheads are not always trying to make things more confusing. Often enough, believe it or not, they’re actually trying to make things less confusing.
For a better take on that crappy Paul Daugherty article, head to Fire Joe Morgan.
Don't use jazz as a verb, please. Also: stat freaks and seam heads hate baseball. They are fucking ASIMO robots who make managerial moves through NASA press releases. Eric Wedge makes his moves from home, via on-line chats. Terry Francona has never met anyone on his 25-man roster. Joe Maddon is a 2.4 gigahertz Linksys router. Manny Acta is actually M.A.N. eACTA, the black-ops code-name for the Mechanized Algorithmic Numerical (internet-ready) Actionable Computation Techno-Automaton. When his "contract" runs out with the Nats he is going to be launched into space. We are weaponizing space. Deal with it, China.
It's delicious. I wish I did not write anything before finding this one as mine review is crappy and inferior in comparison while being a day late to boot.
Two words. Fuck Yeah. Seriously, some things look gross when you talk about infusing bacon flavor or adding bacon. Though bacon vodka sounds good to me, I can understand why others think it sounds gross. The same goes for bacon flavored mints. Maple flavored lollipops with bacon chunks suspended in it? Now, I am not one who think men should eat lollipops, but this one is certainly one that I would allow.
He would rather the runner a) risk injury by sliding into the catcher legs first b) completely give up and concede the run on his end while trying to make the team c) pull up from a full sprint to avoid a collision, which in turn could injure him.
It was/is a no brainer. It is a too bad that everyone did not walk away in one piece, but such is the case when you play a physical game.
I guess I'm surprised to see Ryan Braun get SO much respect in drafts, considering he's had just 451 career at-bats. I would've stayed away, yet he could also make me look stupid and be an absolute beast for years to come.
I am praying for the latter.
The big shock for me was seeing B.J. Upton go so high. I know his potential is ridiculous, and he's probably eligible at both outfield and second base, which is nice, but he's only played the equivalent of a season and a half in the big leagues. The power/speed combo is undeniable, but I would've waited.
"It's just part of the system," Zimmerman said. "I am not upset by any means. They have control for three years, and that's how it goes. Many people before me have done it the same way. There are no hard feelings either way. I am not opposed to doing a deal," he said. "It is just a matter of having it make sense for both sides. I'm sure they will still talk to my agent during the year, but as far as me being involved now, it is time for baseball, and my job is to help this team win and not worry about getting myself a contract.
"I want to be here for a long time. They know that. It is part of the business. If you go year-by-year or long term, if you play well, you'll make money. It doesn't matter."
Amazing. He understands the system. How hard is that exactly? Not very.