Thursday, March 28, 2013

In Defense Of: Keith Law???

I'll be honest.  I was trying to find something to write about, so I perused the web in search of saberdouchery.

Saberdouchery is when a baseball analyst makes some sort of argument that goes against traditional baseball thinking.  He'll make a point to deliver the message in the most arrogant way possible, letting everyone know how much smarter he is than the Luddite traditionalists.

I figured that Keith Law was a good bet to supply me with some material, so I looked through his article archive on

I expected to find saberdouchery.  Instead, I found this article: 

The Stats I Can't Live Without 

(Article requires an ESPN Insider subscription to read. Sorry for all you non-subscribers)

Law starts out by putting a disclaimer on WAR, pointing out that without knowing how the WAR value was calculated, it doesn't really provide much insight into a player's value.  Next, he points out that because players build their WAR in different ways, it's not necessarily a great tool to analyze players going forward.

What? Was I reading this correctly?

He uses Michael Bourn as an example.  Much of Bourn's value is based on speed.  As he ages, his speed is likely to decrease, meaning that Bourn's value will likely decrease faster than other players with a similar WAR value.

Michael Bourn's WAR may not be indicative of future performance

He then goes on to talk about a few key statistics, what they are designed to do, how they can be misleading, and why they are useful in analyzing and predicting a player's performance moving forward.

I was shocked.  This was a helpful and accessible article from an unlikely source.

Despite what some people may think, I have made an effort to understand and appreciate sabermetrics.  I feel I have gotten a solid grasp on how most of the more prominent statistics are calculated and why they are considered valuable.  But it certainly wasn't easy for me to do so.

If analysts like Law really want sabermetrics to fully gain mainstream acceptance, they need to produce more articles like this one.  This article should have been placed on the front page of and been made easily accessible to everyone who wanted to gain a better handle on sabermetrics.

I'm not saying it's a perfect article.  Law can't completely avoid showing some disdain for the non-believers when he makes a comment about the Trout vs. Cabrera debate.

But had I read something like this a few years ago, it's possible that my whole outlook on sabermetrics might have changed.  Maybe this site would be called "Sabermetrics Rule" instead!

Well...probably not.  There still would have been plenty of saberdouches out there doing their best to earn my disdain.

Regardless, I look at this article as a step in the right direction.  Good job, Mr. Law!

1 comment:

  1. Another excellent entry.

    You should do a piece on the utter collapse of the Toronto Blue Jays who continue to cling to this fantasy that going "all in" with sabermetrics will lead them to the promised land. Yet 13 years and 2 GMs, (one being the last one's assistant,) later, they are circling the drain in the AL East.