Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Am Not a Troll

Since I've had a lot of new readers come by the site in recent days, I thought it was appropriate to re-state and clarify the intention behind this site.

I realize that by naming the site Sabermetrics Suck, it makes it appear that this blog is either an attempt to instigate, or a parody of an anti-sabermetrics traditionalist.

I assure you that it is neither.

Unfortunately, the title "Sabermetrics Are Good When Used in Moderation But Some People Take It Too Far" seemed a bit clunky.  Also, "Sabermetrics Suck" is definitely catchier.

The goal of the site is not to whine about "geeks with calculators sitting in their mother's basement."  I am not complaining that "these newfangled stats have ruined baseball."   

I accept that the battle between traditionalists and saberfans is pretty much over, and the saberfans have won. 

It's pretty tough to deny that fact when I look at ESPN.com and see several baseball writers who focus on advanced statistics.  They even include WAR on their statistics page!

So then what is the point of the site?

In my eyes, the empowered sabermetric crowd has become the new arrogant elite.  It feels like many saberfans were held down and mocked by the traditionalists for so long, that now that they've gained acceptance, they carry themselves with a know-it-all attitude.

Prominent saber-minded writers like Rob Neyer and Keith Law certainly aren't helping that reputation.  Instead of educating and enlightening people to the ways of sabermetrics, they seem to drive people away with their snarky arrogance.

Saberfans portray traditionalists as stubborn, unyielding old fools who refuse to give up antiquated ways of thinking.  Yet from my experience, saberfans can be even more stubborn and refusing to yield.

The best I can tell, this stubbornness comes from the saberfans having "numbers on their side."

Ah yes, numbers and statistics.  I believe Homer Simpson said it best:

“Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.”

The typical sabermetric thought process seems to be along these lines:
  1. Come up with a hypothesis.
  2. Find a statistic that backs up that hypothesis.
  3. Convince yourself that the statistic offers irrefutable proof.
  4. Refuse to yield.
It's kind of fun to do, actually!  Here's an example:
  1. Hypothesize that RBIs are an important measure of a player's offensive production.
  2. Check the rosters of every team in baseball, and add up the number of RBIs for each player.
  3. Find that the teams with the highest player RBI totals were the highest scoring offenses.
  4. Conclude that RBIs are a good measure of offensive production.
  5. Refuse to yield.
I'm not advocating abandoning statistical research in baseball.  I think it has indeed provided people with more insight about the game.  I regularly read sabermetrics-focused sites to try and gain more knowledge, and have learned some things that I find fascinating.

What I'm trying to do is to remind people that while baseball is about numbers, it is also more than just numbers.  It's about team chemistry, luck, clutch plays, and moments both amazing and bizarre that make it fun to be a baseball fan.

It's about a team having a "1 in 100" chance of winning, and still finding a way to pull out a victory.

I think that some people have just gotten a little too deep into the numbers to see what's really going on.  I'm trying to help people see the big picture.

The "pendulum has swung" to the side of the saberfans.  The blog represents the start of the back swing.

I just hope some of you stick around to enjoy the ride.


  1. Thank you for this page, I hate SABR metrics! It's an evil thought reform program!

  2. Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not. If not, you're a little more enthusiastic about the subject than I am. But either way, thanks for reading.

  3. THANK YOU for this!

    WAR is an imaginary number and only hardcore geeks think it has merit.

    But one thing you forgot to mention is the fantasy that games in May are equal value to games in September when teams are in a pennant race. Managers shorten their bench, tighten their rotation and only players playing well get in the lineup. (See Mike Trout's total implosion and ultimate benching late in the season for a reference.) Manufacturing runs anywhere you can will never be "overrated" and winning will never go out of style no matter what the SABR fanboys tell you.

    I consider the rise of sabr crowd as geek's revenge. When you see their antics online and in the baseball world and you see WHY we used to stuff their arrogant asses into lockers in high school.

    1. I don't know if it's a "geek's revenge." I think some saberfans legitimately want to understand baseball on a deeper level via stats.

      My issue comes when they want to push their case as absolute truth simply because they found a statistic that backs them up.

  4. I just stumbled onto your site and I am bookmarking it. It's nice to see a kindred soul when it comes to sabermetrics.

    I was amused during the whole Cabrera/Trout/Triple Crown/WAR argument last year, when sabers insisted they had "numbers on their side" when they pointed to WAR, which, they pointed out with fingers wagging, also took defense and stolen bases into account -- as if traditionalists had never thought of that.

    When, ironically, it was sabers themselves who proclaimed in years past they had "numbers on their side," when they insisted defense wasn't all that important (I think it was 6 percent, according to one author)...and any saber worth his salt eschewed stolen bases -- and often sneered at "backward-thinking flat-earthers" who contended stolen bases were an important offensive tool.

    The same thing happens nowadays with the constant tweaking of defensive metrics. Jason Bay is a terrible outfielder. Oh, wait, no, he's not; we tweaked the formula.

    Doesn't sound like an exact science to me.

    Thanks for great site...I look forward to visiting often.

    1. It certainly is not an exact science. I appreciate the desire to want to quantify everything, but I don't think it is possible.

      Unfortunately, people seem to believe that having newer statistics on their side makes them "more right," even though what they believe might just get overwritten by newer data next week.

    2. Exactly, Cutter. What bothers me the most is the attitude among many sabers that, if I choose not to embrace their hobby, I'm choosing to be ignorant.

      To paraphrase Socrates, I admit up front that I know everything about baseball because I know absolutely nothing. Heck, people like Don Zimmer or Jim Leyland, who've been close to the game for decades, admit they still haven't figured out this game -- but some schmuck with a calculator is gonna proclaim he has wisdom on his side? Ridiculous.

      That's not to say there isn't some wisdom to be gleaned from the new stats. But why do so many sabers have to be so doggone smug about it? They make statements like "RBI is a garbage statistic, and the only reason old-timers like Jim Leyland still use it is because they're stodgy and stubborn." Rather than affording longtime managers and others in the game the benefit of the doubt, many sabers use that longevity against them, as "proof" that people in the game resist change.

      I would be happy to enjoy baseball my way, and let others enjoy it their way. But when you go onto various blogs and get lambasted every time you mention RBI or pitchers' wins, it gets a little annoying. What cracks me up the most is, these "scientists" refuse to acknowledge the holes in their logic. One example: "RBI is a garbage stat because it's dependant on factors outside the batter's control." Okay, fine -- but why worship at the altar of bases on balls then? Isn't that also outside the batter's control? In order to draw a walk, the pitcher has to throw four balls outside the strike zone. Shouldn't that also give these "scientists" pause?

      It won't, because, while there are some sabers who are open-minded and approach their hobby with a scientific eye, by and large sabermetrics is a cult, not a science. It's all about "we're right and they're wrong -- and I'm going to be snide to anyone who disagrees with me."

      Ain't nobody got time for that!!!!

    3. George, I couldn't have said it better myself.

      At some point geek's revenge needs to be shut down because there's no place for them in baseball or anywhere else where you have to get up in the morning, see what color the sky is and actually have to earn something on a field of play.

    4. I'm interested to see where you're getting this "defense and stolen bases are meaningless" bunk from. The closest I can imagine you reading is that defensive stats aren't entirely accurate in single-year samples, which is true. No one has ever said that defense doesn't matter. The other point may actually be that a player who steals a lot of bases but is also thrown out a lot is actually hurting his team. The article you're probably referencing (although you might just be making things up) concluded that a runner with a low success rate is just as bad as a runner who doesn't steal at all. Trout doesn't fall into either of those categories.

      And I don't know why you're looking at Jason Bay. He has had some good years, but has been consistently awful defensively.

      saying that you know "everything" about baseball because you know "nothing" isn't a paraphrase of socrates broseph, it's just moronic. socrates said that wisdom exists in acknowledging your ignorance (basically), not that knowledge exists in acknowledging your ignorance.

      Leyland doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt, as he is (or was, now that he's retired) a relic of a bygone era. If he uses RBI as a measure of one player's talent or success then he absolutely should be called out on it. His time in the majors is irrelevant.

      I've never seen anything more stupid than saying that the walk is outside of the batter's control. Great hitters like Joey Votto and Barry Bonds are walked a lot because of their pitch recognition. You're acting like every walk a batter takes is a result of a pitcher's mistakes.

      saberstats are more accurate than traditional stats. jimmy hollywood is exactly the kind of person that sabernerds make fun of, because he's a moron.

    5. Strum clearly has no real knowledge of baseball save for what saberfanboys spew. He needs to watch a ball game or better yet, PLAY IT sometime. His knowledge is nil and laughing at guys with decades of playing experience and calling names shows us that he's not only clueless but a troll.

  5. Your RBI experiment there was embarrassingly awful.of course if you add up players RBI you will get the number of runs a team scored. No shit. But that does not in any way prove it is a good way to measure what an individual did. It is solely based on opportunity.

    Was Ruben Sierra better than Bonds when he has more RBI? I don't think so.

    WAR is 88% accurate. But it's easy to refute something when you Completely ignore the facts and just make stupid claims about it without understanding it at all

    1. Gotta love how saberfanboys continue to cling to Ruben Sierra like he was Satan incarnate and refuse to accept that he did indeed have a pretty good career. Better than any sabersuperstar they cling to.

      Any stat that is NOT 100% accurate as FACTUAL is not a stat and clinging to it disqualifies anything and everything you could possibly say on the matter.

    2. Another thing that this guy doesn't understand is ALL offensive numbers in ALL sports are opportunity driven. ALL of them. You don't score unless you are in the lineup and on the field, ice or court. More importantly, you don't get in the lineup unless the coach or manager thinks you're good enough to be in that position. These spots are EARNED. If Billy Beane was good enough he would have been hitting in the 3 spot his whole career instead of the 9. It's as simple as that.

      This fantasy that ANYONE could hit RBI's if they could only get in the 3 or 4 spot in the lineup is without a doubt the "I was picked last in gym class and if I was picked first, I'd have been a STAR" mentality. Give it up and GROW up.

    3. Sierra was roughly an average hitter over his career, and a horrible defender. Average hitters can have huge seasons based on their RBI totals (Brandon Phillips comes to mind). He was a mediocre player who was apparently overvalued because of the teams he played on.

      And no one is saying that "anyone" could drive in runs given the opportunity. The worst players in baseball are still better than at least 90% of the people on the planet. The issue is that people use stats that are entirely contextual and dependent on the TEAM to determine the value and talent of the individual.

      Scoring a goal in hockey and driving in a run are completely different things, and if you can't see that then there's no point in continuing a conversation.

    4. Offensive stats are ALWAYS dependent on opportunities, period. If a coach keeps a hockey player off the ice in offensive situations he doesn't have as good a chance of scoring a goal as someone who is. (Power plays, you know, 5 against 4 advantages, face offs in the other team's zone, etc.) That is no different than the player who gets the 3 spot over the guy in the 9. If the player has played well enough in the eyes of the manager to play in a spot where he gets better chances to drive in runs, he gets the spot. You just can't accept that players who get that spot earn it can you?

      RBIs aren't "obsolete" for that reason. Dismissing it tells me you have never played the game and don't get that the team that scores the most runs WINS THE GAME.

      Yet another ignorant saberfanboy who probably never even watches games.

  6. I thought it was obvious that the RBI argument was a sarcastic way to show that stats and numbers can be used to "prove" any argument.

    I'm not saying that higher RBI totals make a player better. I am saying that Sierra succeeded at getting runners home more often than Bonds did. In a team game, that should count for something.