Herp Derp Sabermetrics

One of my team mates sent me this article written by a high school classmate of his and I just had to go FireJoeMorgan on it. Still don’t get how there are people this intellectually roadblocked in life..

(emphasis mine)

Why has Jeter been able to defy expert opinion, including New York Yankees staff members, hitting like it’s 1999 to close the season? Does it mean the death of sabermetrics? I sure hope so.
As one of the all-time clutch players in baseball history, it’s hard to say the pressure of 3,000 hits got to the all-time Yankees hits leader, but maybe it did. Perhaps Derek Jeter just needed some rest. Either way, Derek Jeter is 46 for his last 117 since coming off the DL.

This is the absolute definition of small sample size. A 117 at bat sample is absurdly small, and almost anyone can hit .393 over ~26 games.

All this despite the fact that his UZR, WAR, FIPP, DEUS, FISL, AWO, DKSL, and ELWIS are well below average for a Gold Glove shortstop – and yes, most of those are made up categories. But do you know which ones?

This is a very played out comment archetype in anti saber articles. Most dumb people are afraid of acronyms. A lot of anti saber writers will list a few actual stats (WAR and UZR) and then just start making stuff up as if to say “ZOMG SO MANY DIFFERENT ACRONYMS AND STATS HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH ONES MEAN ANYTHING HERP DERP”

Sabermetrics represent a cult of baseball analysts and fans, with too much time on their hands, that believe everything baseball can be explained through numbers. As an engineer from Lehigh University, that sounds particularly pleasant to me. Unfortunately, baseball isn’t always about numbers. That’s what makes baseball so enjoyable. It’s a break from the pseudo-analytic bull shit of my every day life.

This is also a common anti-saber statement. “when all you care about is numbers you cant enjoy the beauty of the game! its played by real people not robots!” No one in the saber community I know, including Bill James (the Godfather of Sabermetrics if you will) views the game in a dehumanizing way. We all still appreciate the visceral nature of it and the randomness of the sport (which, interestingly enough, is something fans like this retard struggle with. Refusing to believe that some shit happens because of pure chance and random variation.)

A pitcher can have an excellent career ERA in a particular ball park against a particular team during day games in October on Sundays with a game temperature above 72 degrees Fahrenheit – and still give up eight runs in the first inning.

This is what bothers me the most. THAT IS NOT SABERMETRICS. That’s not even a stat. That is putting together a random assortment of environmental and chronological conditions then seeing how a player performs under said questionable constraints or influences.

Baseball defies the numbers all the time. Sabermetrics argues that all outlying statistics aside, in-depth analysis can predict, more often than not, player production in a given situation.

First, sabermetrics can’t argue anything. Its not an entity. Its a study. Second, sabermetrics does not in any stretch of the imagination “predict player production in a given situation”. These are human beings, not robots (which, ironically enough, is what anti-sabr people argue to us). A .300 hitter isn’t going to go 3 for his every 10 at bats. There is variance!

Also, none of what you said could ever be possibly construed as in depth analysis or peripheral statistics. In depth analysis would be saying “Even though Josh Tomlin got off to a great start for the Indians in 2011, he doesn’t strike out enough batters, gives up too many base hits, and has an uncharacteristically low BABIP, so his success is unlikely to continue. Sure enough, if you look at the peripheral stats…

115.2 ip in the first half with 104 hits allowed supplemented by only 65 strikeouts (5.9 K/9) and an absurd sub .200 BABIP (batting average on balls in play. Tells you what the batting average is on…you guessed it, a ball in play. Pitchers normalize around .285, though some can keep it lower around .260-.270 due to the repeated ability to induce weak contact [guys like Kershaw and Halladay]) Tomlin has since regressed since the All Star break as more balls fell in and his lack of putting batters away via the strikeout caught up to him. (4.27 FIP in 2011)

When you see someone with a sub 3 ERA, but their peripherals like K/9, HR/9, BABIP, etc, don’t line up then you have cause to believe there will be regression*. Conversely, when you have a batter who is hitting .220 but his walk rate and K rate are in line with his career norms and he has say..a .170 BABIP, you could stand to reason that he just needs some balls to start falling in and he’ll be alright.

*Another great example would be Austin Jackson.
2010: .293 batting average with 47 walks, 170 Ks, and an ABSURD .396 BABIP.
2011: .258 batting average with 49 walks, 146 Ks, and a still-too-high-to-be-real BABIP of .343
Regression, kids..

Because the Oakland Athletics made the playoffs a couple of times, despite succumbing to Derek Jeter’s greatness and failing to win a championship, we want to believe in Sabermetrics. Unfortunately, we cannot, and Derek Jeter proves that no Brad Pitt movie can trump Yankee greatness as long as it centers around the Oakland A’s.

This is the other really dumb anti-saber argument – The Moneyball Athletics never won a world series Billy Beane was wrong!!! First off, pretty much every team uses sabermetrics in some form. The Red Sox won 2 world series using them. The Yankees won in 2009 using them. Etc. Just because the A’s never won a World Series doesn’t mean they had a good plan and a sound process. From 2000-2003 they won 92, 101, 103, and 96 games. Each time making the playoffs and each time losing in the Division Series in the FINAL GAME. GAME 5. Yes, they never won a world series or even got out of the first round in the height of the “Moneyball” era but let me stress the unbelievably tiny difference that is. Its one play going their way. Its Jeremy Giambi sliding and Derek Jeter not making one of the most memorable defensive games of all time. In 2003 they lost to the Red Sox in 5 games. The score of their losses: 1-3, 4-5, 3-4. About as close as it can possibly be. Billy Beane put together an unbelievably talented team. All you can do is build the best team possible and get them to the playoffs. And they WERE a playoff team. Three shutdown aces, great defense, power hitting. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. The Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, they won 86 games. Cody Ross propelled the Giants past the best rotation in baseball in 2011. Its baseball, weird shit happens in a 5 game series.

Baseball is great because Kirk Gibson can hit a walk-off homer even though he can’t walk. Players can turn their careers around in an instant. Maybe it’s steroids, or maybe Jose Bautista has a really good hitting coach.

Apropos of nothing else in this argument, it really bothers me that you just casually threw in that Bautista could be on steroids without ANY evidence that shows he is. That is the apex of intellectual dishonesty.

Perhaps Derek Jeter is one of the greatest shortstops of all time and has a bit of magic left in those final years of his presumably steroid-free career.

There is no perhaps. Derek Jeter is probably the second greatest shortstop of all time. Number one if you consider Honus Wagner to be so far back in history he doesn’t count. He is everything you can ask for in a franchise ball player. I don’t need to jerk him off here. However, just because he is all those things doesn’t mean he cant be overrated defensively (which he was) and doesn’t mean he cant earn a few undeserving gold gloves (which he did). It doesn’t take anything away from him. No one in history of baseball ever said “That Jeter guy? fuck him he sucks I cant figure out how he is in the majors!” No one thinks Derek Jeter is bad. He’s just declining. It happens when guys are in their mid-30s. Jeter had a horrible first few months, he was hitting way too many ground balls, his bat was slow, he wasn’t driving it. Yes hes hitting .393 for the last 30 days or whatever. He’s a hall of fame player. He’s not going to stave off old age and be an all star when hes 40. Father Time is undefeated.

And what of the Sabermetric analysis of Jason Giambi that made him a key cog to the Athletics’ rise to divisional power? Did Billy Bean account for the value of steroids in the inflated numbers Giambi produced?

This just is irrelevant and makes no sense. Giambi being or not being on steroids is a moot point. He was good. He was on the A’s. He helped them.

Maybe the Athletics were just good because they had Mulder, Hudson, and Zito in the primes of their careers. Maybe the Athletics, with no championships during that era, were never actually that good.

I love this. Derp the A’s are just good because they had good players!!! No shit. They drafted good players, what a concept. The Moneyball A’s strategy was draft talented, low risk college players. Their ceilings may not be as high as say…a Justin Upton, but the odds of them tanking are also much lower. The A’s drafted Zito with the 9th pick in the 1st round after being a stud at USC. Hudson was drafted in the 6th round out of Auburn. Mulder was taken with the 2nd overall pick in 1998 from Michigan State. Seems to me that they had a plan and just executed. If you’re going to make a stupid statement like “maybe the Athletics were just good because they had Mulder, Hudson, and Zito in the primes of their careers” I will say maybe the Yankees were just good because they had Jeter, Mariano, Posada, Pettitte. That was just overall a stupid sentence and I can’t believe I spent this long replying to it.

The facts are these:

1. Derek Jeter has 3,000+ hits and a .297 batting average this season despite low sabermetric scores.

There are not such thing as “saber metric scores”. If you want to use that term, I will tell you that Derek Jeter has accumulated 71 bWAR over the course of his career, which is a no doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer.

Cool, hes hitting .297, he also has a .354 On Base Percentage and a .389 Slugging Percentage. That’s a league average season. That’s Jamey Carroll this year with a couple more homeruns.

2. The Oakland Athletics haven’t won a championship since Money Ball

I will ignore that the way you structured your sentence implies that they did in fact win a ring “during Money Ball” and just point out that just because a team didn’t win a ring doesn’t mean they were bad. Flags fly forever, but Process > Results (if its a good process)

3. The Yankees, under Jeter’s reign, have five.

“Under Jeter’s reign”…. like he was the GM and President and Owner too. Hitting leadoff, acquiring players, filling out the lineup card! Please. Jeter is one of the best players of this era. He also would not have a single ring if not for his stellar team mates.

Sabermetrics might be a good way of evaluating the usefulness of mid-level baseball talent, but it can never undermine the value of a baseball great – even if he is 37 years old.

This is wrong. Sabermetrics are useful for evaluating any type of baseball player, given you have enough, and the right, data. It never “undermined the value of a baseball great”. It valued him quite appropriately.

It seemed like a great time to pick Jeter apart, but with this year’s resurgence baseball scouts and their numbers were once again proven wrong.

I like how you just casually lump scouts and the sabermetric crowd in together, when in reality they are are historically at odds. You’d find more scouts that agree with this insane article than you would that disagreed. This is just another instance of you showing you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.

Sabermetrics should stick to evaluating the pinch-hit value of Miguel Cairo on a Tuesday night in Chicago with wind speeds under 12 MPH against a lefty pitcher in the 7th inning or later on an outside fastball in a 2-1 count. This way, when they’re wrong, nobody will care.

Once again, using this analogy. This is not sabermetrics. Gluing together a bunch of circumstantial happenings and then looking at what the “stats” are is not what sabermetrics are about. Those are called splits, they are a curiosity and have zero predictive or academic value. “Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective, empirical evidence”.

Leave Derek Jeter alone,

You’re like the “Leave Britney Alone” kid but for Jeter!

because Sabermetrics aren’t a credible way to evaluate talent and Derek Jeter is going to continue laughing all the way to the Hall of Fame.

I would argue that since basically every team uses them, including all the good teams like the Sox, Yankees, Rays, Phillies, etc, that they are very credible. Jeter will not need to laugh his way to the HoF because literally no one on this planet thinks he shouldn’t be there. If he gets under 96% on the first ballot I will be unbelievably surprised.

Thoughts From the Plane

So it is 10:18 pm EST, I’ve been on my plane for about 35 minutes. As soon as I got to cruising altitude I copped that inflight internet because I’m not tired enough to sleep and for some reason airplanes are the one place I cant read books. I just get too antsy.

It is also a Wednesday, which means I would be out getting my drink on at Center City Sips if not for my travel plans. In honor of my favorite work day I decided to handle my business at the airport bar right next to my gate. I have a solid buzz going on so the words should just flow out of my magical fingers.

In my previous post I listed a few topics I hoped to address in the near future; I will touch on those and others.

First up is a mental jag I went on about a month ago after a tweet from a friend of mine who is in a sorority. Don’t really feel like going back to May 31st and getting the original tweet that started all this but it was essentially my friend making fun of a kid cause of his lame outfit (which she has seen him in frequently, allegedly) with a #GDI (God Damn Independent aka not Greek) hashtag thrown in there for good measure. As I read it, the basic message of her tweet was that guys who are not in frats* don’t have style and aren’t as cool as the dudes who are in frats. Now I’m sure my friend did not mean that all men who are not in frats are uncool and cannot dress well, but when you only get 140 characters your message can get a little disjointed.

*Yes I know they’re called “fraternities” and they get mad when you call them frats which is exactly why I do it. Have you noticed that I like starting shit?

What followed was a meneage a twit between myself, the original sorority friend, and her room mate who I am also friends with. Now these are two of my best girl friends at my school and this still got really heated, which just goes to show you how engrained Greek life has become in American Colleges. EDITORS NOTE: Was looking at a picture on Facebook of one of my friends in Greek life at Arizona and there was

This tweet from me to one of my team mates probably didn’t help much either:

@[redacted] the money i save on paying for friends goes directly to the #NIKE fund. #mykicksarecoolerthanyourfrat

That may or may not have started the equivalent of a Greek life PoFlaWa on twitter.

I can get carried away sometimes. Such is life.

I am using this little anecdote to preface my larger point regarding Greek life but before I go any further I want to put out a disclaimer – I do not believe that Greek life is all bad and although I do sort of generalize about frat kids I definitely realize that there are some great guys who are in frats and that their general purpose and origin is a decent and noble one. That leads me to my main point though, being in a frat does not “make” you cool. You’re gonna be who are you are before you join a frat, and if you change drastically after that you’re just a weak individual who got his uniqueness stomped out by a rabid mob. Maybe it’s just because I am a fierce individualist but I just don’t see why anyone would want to join something that makes you conform that much.*

*Two quick side notes- First, in terms of credibility, I pledged a frat at my old school and was around for about 7 weeks before I truly realized it wasn’t what I wanted. Second, I’ve played sports my whole life and I’ve had jobs so its not like I’m one of those guys that just bucks authority at every turn.

I understand that everyone wants to be a part of something, and that if I didn’t play baseball..who knows maybe I would be in a frat* but I just don’t understand how douchebaggy these guys can get when you throw them all together and give them all the same dumb shirt. Once again most of these kids are nice enough though, and maybe the douchebags would be douchebags regardless of whether or not they were in a frat. Maybe I’m having an epiphany and my feelings will change. Maybe I’ll still make fun of all the losers in TKE when I see them. Who knows.

*nahhh

In the works

I’ve been working on a few things so in the next few days you can expect posts on:

-Philadelphia sports fans
-Anthony Weiner
-Nike
-Being injured

We’ll see how this goes..

A blog post about blog posts

One of the reasons I started this blog was my need to expel my thoughts and passions as they boiled over in my head without bothering those around me. Interestingly enough, in the past week I have had two or three of these passionate thoughts which at the time seemed so great and so monumental that I couldn’t even write a blog post with the WordPress app on my iPhone for fear of it not being on a grand enough scale.

Now, of course, the passion for those ideas has past. My inspiration if you will. I don’t know if I will ever actually write them. Maybe I should take a page from Joe Posnanski’s book and make blog posts about upcoming blog posts to keep myself honest (speaking of which, is that iPad review EVER coming?)

I’m also a lazy college student so every time I pull this blog up and think “oh I want to spruce up the background a bit” or “hey, I should add a nifty sidebar or something” it doesn’t end up happening. Maybe I’m just making excuses for myself, who knows, but it is a learning experience. I’m sure one day I will be so unbelievably bored at work I will bang out a 5,000 word post about the Dodgers, women, and some sort of social issue that’s pissing me off, photoshop a sweet banner for the front page, and make a Matt Kemp MVP-watch sidebar.

However, until that day comes the one to three people that read this blog will just have to be happy with a blog post about blog posts.

Matt Kemp

He’s kind of a boss. Homerun today. Two run homerun and a game tying grandslam in back to back at bats yesterday. You really can’t fuck with him.

Annoying songs

One of my jobs is working at the gym/athletic center at school, and like most gyms they have some standard top 40 satellite radio station just pumping songs in all day. I swear to god if I hear Cee Lo Green or Roll Up by Wiz Khalifa one more time I’m just gonna lose it. I wish I had a name tag with one of those sharp pins instead of the magnetic one so I could stab myself to death with it and end my misery.

Sidenote: None of Wiz Khalifa’s mainstream stuff is good. His mixtapes are fire but all his radio stuff is horrible. Black and Yellow is the only decent song but it falls apart 2/3 of the way through and was run into the ground by radio stations so now its so played out you can’t listen to it. We get it dude, you smoke weed. Stop rapping about it. Rapping about drugs is kinda tired anyway but when you can’t even make it interesting no one is gonna wanna hear that shit except for all the average PA kids who love him. Clipse, for example, rap about pushing cocaine in like…75% of their songs, but their metaphors and word play is so good and subtle that it doesn’t matter. And his voice is annoying and the streak in his fro is dumb

Extreme weather

It was fucking hot today. Not the hottest day in Philly since I moved here almost two years ago. Maybe not even top 5, but it was still fucking hot. It really makes you appreciate Southern California weather when you move to a place that has maybe 10-14 “nice” days every year. 75, sunny, no humidity…you know, the kind of days you have all the time in LA or San Diego.

I don’t know if its because I’m from LA or because I’m Jewish or what but I really don’t handle extreme weather well. Whether (see what I did there?) its 20 and snowing and I have to break out the dog sled team to get to class or 89 with 90% humidity and I’m marooned an hour and thirty minutes away from the nearest beach (“shore”, whatever) it has become abundantly clear to me that the rigors of living in East coast weather are too much for my delicate sensibilities. Oh well. Guess I better get into law school in Southern California!