What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
Joey's article on MY has rekindled an old but always exciting debate. I'm very sympathetic to saber and the use of stats. But I've got a couple of nagging concerns that the "hardcore" statisticians might be able to address for me.
1) If stats are so reliable and intangibles so unreliable (and I tend to agree with this argument), then why vote on the MVP at all? Why not just give it to the player who has the best WAR? Or if you don't like WAR, tweak it. But at the end of the day, cut the humans out of the equation and use whatever the preferred formula is for evaluating players. After all, how can mere mortals do better? They will always "overvalue" intangibles. If you like stats, but aren't willing to go this far, then why? What do you think humans bring to the table in terms of player evaluation?
2) The conventional wisdom is that a guy like RW is not a great manager because he goes with the "gut" rather than playing the probabilities. Why not replace (or partially replace to the extent possible) Wash (and all other managers) with a robot who determines lineups, substitutions, bullpen moves, etc.? I realize that there are some things that can't be typed into a software program. But you could severely limit the manager's discretion by forcing him to play the odds in many instances. In fact, teams that uses computers extensively already do this to some extent. Why not make it a league-wide phenomenon?
3) Is there anything to the argument that a guy like RW brings some "intangibles" to the table that are important? For example, he creates a clubhouse atmosphere that allows a guy like Napoli to thrive, when Napoli didn't play as well under a "brilliant" in-game manager like Scoscia (not so sure that I agree that Scoscia is brilliant, but that's the argument). Or do you think Napoli would've had a similar year this year if he were playing with the Angels and RW deserves no credit?
I feel the premise of the questions is a one-sided academic argument.
1) In order to do that, one would have to believe that WAR is a perfect statistic, which no Sabermatrician I know would say. WAR is a good approximation though. And WAR doesn't take into account team success which, some argue, is a vital component to "value". But WAR can't account for things like leadership, coming through in the clutch, etc. The way I'd view MVP voting is gather up the WAR leaders and then, if there is no one who is heads and shoulders above anyone else, I'd look at the intangibles to separate them since WAR is imperfect.2) I think this is again an oversimplification of the argument. It's not that Wash goes with his gut, but that he seems to be unaware of sabermetrics as a tool. Because that's what stats are. Tools. Just as your gut is a tool. Just as someone's body language is a tool.I for one think Wash is a good manager because he gets his players to play balls to the wall for him. Can you quantify that? No. But that's part of using stats as tools, not as absolutes. Most of us statsy types would just like to see evidence that he knows the tools are there and would consult them from time to time.3) Again, another all or nothing question for something that likely is an answer in the middle. We don't know how much Napoli's explosion is the influence of the Rangers coaches (change in hitting coach could be a significant factor), not a good match for Scoscia's clubhouse, randomly blooming this year, or just needing a coach to show confidence in him. Really we can't know how much of each factor comes into play, but clearly some credit should be given to each category. The amount of credit each category deserves is wholly up for debate and I doubt anyone could really give you the real answer other than Napoli himself.
The overall point is that no (sane) sabermatrician would ever do things based ONLY on stats. Because no stat is perfect and any (good) statistician will agree there are factors they cannot account for. Stats are numerical approximations of reality. As I said before, stats are tools. Just as your gut is. You cannot build a house with a hammer only. Same thing can be said for the Rangers. A good team will have scouts than can use talent, managers who can balance predictive stats with what his eyeballs tell them, and a GM who knows the difference between an athlete and a ballplayer. To determine such things, you have to use both stats and gut. It's stupid to talk about only using one or the other because to do so is to completely deny the value of the other.
I think that was one of the best stated opinions I have ever read on here. Thank you for that.
I actually have to credit Joey and this site for somewhat altering my perception.... so thanks... i guess lol. I've always been an "eye" test, go with your guy and your feelings type of guy. Use the force Luke.... lol. However over the probably 3+ years i've lurked and over a year now that i've participated i've noticed something: it doesnt have to be one way or the other. Its so funny how much sports and politics actually mix (for the longest time I actuallly wanted to start a blog on that very basis.....dont have the balls to plus I think dayn perry at foxsport beat me to it) my point being in everything is black and white. Democrat or Republican, stats vs gut. The truth is, and I attribute it to this site, is that there's actually a balance that has to be kept. you can have both. you can have the eye test and back it up with stats. and vice versa. I think thats the true essence of the new evolution of Moneyball. True Moneyball doesnt work. Same way that far right winged and far left wing politics dont work. There has to be a balance.
I think Cmdr (who's rocked it twice today with this recent post and the Kinsler post on my previous forum) nailed a perfect example with Napoli. Napoli is a border line stats player who's numbers depending on how you look at them couldve made you cringe a little last year or see the potential. Add the eye test to it, and there was no denying that there was a diamond in the rough waiting to escape soscia and break out of LA.
Any thats my take. there's no right or wrong, but I think there is more room for baseball in general to accept both theories in union and when properly used; a synergy of forces that can predict, adapt, and produce today's baseball team's to hitting their maximum potential. Billy Beane mightve got it started, but I think JD has tweaked and perfected this concept of statistical and "gut" instinct decisioning in unison to put a talented team on the field year after year.
This issue gives me tired head, BUT, I cannot ignore it. Stats in some poeple's world mean nada.
Would you have any anti-biotics without stats? An investment or 401K w/o stats?
Numbers never lie. Average, Hits, Runs, etc. are not #'s that are ficticious.
WAR, etc. are. Don't give me a theoretical or hypothetical stat.
I am old school, and can come up with adjusted stats to contradict your adjusted stats.
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