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I’m Still Going to Use Stats and Sabermetrics to Evaluate Players and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

old-computerAfter what felt like an eternity of a break, the World Series is here. Your last chance to watch actual MLB games for another five and a half months. And it just happens to be the most important games. It’s a fascinating series, too, between a couple teams that squeaked into the playoffs as Wild Card teams, and, by underlying metrics, were not among the five or six best teams in baseball. That’s why you just try to make the playoffs.

  • My Spanish is limited to a handful of words and then whatever Google Translate spits out, but it looks like there’s a chance Arismendy Alcantara will be playing in his native Dominican Winter League for Licey at some point. It depends on whether the Cubs give permission, which isn’t a given, since he played such a long season between AAA and MLB. Obviously getting a chance to play at home in the top league there is a big deal to these guys, so if it’s reasonable, the Cubs will probably try to accommodate. But it’s not always possible. Alcantara played a little bit for Licey last year.
  • (Humorous Google Translate error: in a sentence that is explaining whether Alcantara can play depends on whether he gets permission from the team, “el equipo,” the erroneous translation says Alcantara is waiting to see if “the computer” gives him permission. I mean, I knew the Cubs’ front office was technologically inclined, but … )
  • The Mesa Solar Sox’s win streak is over, with a 6-5 loss yesterday. Dan Vogelbach had a double and a walk in four plate appearances, Jacob Hannemann had a hit (no strikeouts) in four at bats, and Addison Russell went 0-5 with a strikeout. None of the Cubs’ pitching prospects got into the game.
  • Tim Hudson starts out all right with this comment to the Mercury News, which was about the importance of intangibles like guts and chemistry: “Too many people nowadays are getting wrapped up in the sabermetrics and the stats.” That’s fair. I may or may not agree, but I think that’s a reasonable debate to have. But then he followed it up with this: “I’m willing to bet almost every one of those people never stepped in a locker room, put on a jock and took the field, and understands those intangibles that help you win.” You cannot possibly observe, understand, and evaluate baseball unless you are wearing a jock strap. Not possible. Sorry, countless executives, media, (some) scouts, and fans. If you use sabermetrics and general statistics to evaluate and project player performance, you’re kidding yourself. You’ll never really know what it takes to find a good player. And definitely don’t point out that Hudson’s strikeout rate and groundball rate have been sliding for years and his 1.7 WAR made him a below-average starting pitcher this year.
  • A fascinating read from MGL on taking out, or leaving in, pitchers who are “dealing.” The short version? It appears that there is no predictive relationship between how a pitcher pitches in the first six innings and the seventh. In other words, just because a guy has cruised for six innings, that doesn’t mean he’s any more likely to pitch well in the seventh than he would otherwise. That feels wrong, given that guys admittedly have better stuff/command/control on given days (maybe they simply feel physically better), but the numbers are the numbers. This is why we have sabermetric analysis: sometimes the data simply doesn’t support the things we “know” to be true, and we have to re-examine what we think. That’s a good thing, whether you’re wearing a jock or not.
  • When it comes to Facebook likes in Chicago, the Cubs trail the Blackhawks, Bulls, and Bears by quite a bit (DNAinfo), which, in my experience, is partly reflective of the popularity of the teams, but also the way the Bulls, for example, have gone all out to acquire Facebook likes. Bleacher Nation trails them all, by the way. Let’s work on that – go, now, like BN on Facebook. Or, let’s keep this simple. Just click the like button right there:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.