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The death of sabermetrics!


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#1 TWC

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 02:57 PM

Or, how to write an article (link) that makes you feel superior to the stat-geeks you denigrate.

Bruce Jenkins, SF Chronicle columnist, wrote an article today that rubbed me the wrong way. He writes of Brian (douchebag) Sabean, GM of the Giants, and his scouting staff, who eschew modern stats at the expense of the "eye test". Because he, and his scouts, are "baseball men", which gives them super powers that "the new breed of geeks" cannot ever understand. The part that kills me:

Those people wouldn't understand what the Giants saw in Gregor Blanco, a longtime disappointment, as he tore up the Venezuelan winter league. They wouldn't necessarily spot the massive heart inside Sergio Romo, or what Hunter Pence's relentless energy brings to a contending team. The Giants look at the face, the demeanor, the background, the ability to play one's best under suffocating pressure - all the components "Moneyball" lamely holds up to ridicule.

So.

Gregor Blanco, he of the .676 OPS/95 OPS+, he who is worse that David (eyelash-above league average) Dejesus is a key find in the VWL? Because he had a couple of critical late-season hits? He was terrrrrrible in the post season! Performance under "suffocating pressure"? Hell no.

Hunter Pence? Really? Hunter Pence, a two-time All Star who was a pretty consistent ±3-WAR player before mostly shitting the bed in SF (0.1 WAR)? He was terrrrrrrible in the post season! Not as bad as Blanco, but awful nonetheless.

And Sergio Romo's "massive heart"? How about his last 4 years' worth of a massive ERA+ and minuscule WHIP? He didn't perform any differently under the "suffocating pressure" of the post season than he did during the regular season. He was just great the whole time.

I'm beginning to think that these baseball writers don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

#2 Fishin Phil

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 03:12 PM


I'm beginning to think that these baseball writers don't know what the fuck they're talking about.



Perhaps the funniest thing I've ever read on this board, and there has been some hilarious stuff.
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#3 Tommy

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 04:02 PM

Can't help but notice he didn't mention the 'heart' or 'relentless energy' of Melky Cabrera, without whom, they most likely don't see the post-season. So maybe an addendum to his article should read, 'the eye test + PED's'.

That is a fairly arrogant piece of journalism.
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#4 fromthemitten

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 06:21 PM

Calcaterra did a pretty good evisceration of this article in pointing out that SF has an advanced statistician on staff who is consulted on the majority of personnel moves including the drafting of Lincecum and Posey: http://hardballtalk....ure-delusional/

also their fearsome DH in game 4: Ryan Theriot and his .637 OPS this season

#5 TWC

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:20 PM

That's a great response.

And fuck Ryan Theriot. Asshat.

#6 Luke

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:04 PM


also their fearsome DH in game 4: Ryan Theriot and his .637 OPS this season


Any "baseball man" who uses Theriot as a DH in the World Series deserves the lifetime of ridicule he will get. If that's what the "eye test" and "baseball knowledge" gets you, I'll stay blind and stick to my spreadsheets, thanks.

I bet this SF writer would love for the Giants to trade for Tony Campana. Scrappy, heart, speedy, "game-changing", and clearly under appreciated by us mere stat guys because he flatly can't get on base.

After all, a real "baseball man" knows that all that matters is heart. OBP is for losers.

Or something like that...

#7 Brett

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:25 PM

This came up on the podcast last night, too. Really embarrassing that a team's beat writer could write something so plainly ignorant of the team he covers.

#8 TWC

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:50 PM

This came up on the podcast last night, too. Really embarrassing that a team's beat writer could write something so plainly ignorant of the team he covers.

It's shocking. Or, it's intentionally dishonest, and simply pandering to the "fans". Either way, it's bullshit.

#9 Ron

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:15 PM

I am not a sabermetric guy but couldn't you make an argument for those guys factoring defense and finding undervalued talent? Really any high school player could have replaced those guys with that pitching performance.

#10 Luke

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:45 PM

I am not a sabermetric guy but couldn't you make an argument for those guys factoring defense and finding undervalued talent? Really any high school player could have replaced those guys with that pitching performance.


Not if you watch baseball.

There is really no saving that article. The Giants threw some spare parts at an already pretty good team, and the already pretty good part of that already pretty good team won them a World Series. This article is trying to claim that the spare parts had a lot to do with it when even a casual glance shows exactly the opposite.

There is no old school vs new school, scouting vs stat guys war going on here.

#11 hansman1982

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 10:01 AM

And Sergio Romo's "massive heart"?


He may want to get this checked out at the Dr. Fairly serious condition.

#12 DocPeterWimsey

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 12:49 PM

Has anybody here been following Nate Silver's NY Times blog? As most of you know, Silver started with sabermetrics, and he basically is co-inventing political sabermetrics. The comments that he was drawing on his Times blog (or in a few op-ed pieces!) are essentially Jenkins' article divided up and recast in sociopolitical analogs of "massive heart" and "eye test." (Nate & Crew went 49 for 49 last night while calling Florida a tossup, rendering the "clutch" and "intangibles" somewhat, well, intangible.....)

The upshot? People hate things that do not say what they want to believe is true, be it trivial stuff like politics or important stuff like baseball.

(Second upshot: 1 year of statistics should be mandatory for a high school diploma... :P )
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#13 fromthemitten

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 05:26 PM

http://www.isnatesilverawitch.com

#14 DocPeterWimsey

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 06:59 PM

heh, the best part about that are the concepts that are mocked: "momentum" and "gut feeling." That message could be about PECOTA or 538!
Gods don't play dice with the universe, they are the dice of the universe: our job is to figure out how many sides and dice!

#15 fromthemitten

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 05:43 PM

http://www.buzzfeed....unk-nate-silver




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