Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fun with Rob Neyer

There's going to be a a change here at Sabermetrics Suck.

Since I created this site, updates have been sporadic.  That is mostly because I try to make thoughtful arguments and not resort to the usual taunts of "Sabermetrics are stupid because...Grandma's basement!"  Unfortunately, thoughtful arguments require time and energy which I don't often have.

Fortunately, I have found a muse that will allow me to post more regularly.  I had a lot of fun making fun of Rob Neyer in my last post.  So I asked myself, "Why don't I do that more often?"

Neyer makes an ideal target because he is prolific and comes off as unbearably smug.  The mockery practically writes itself!  And because Neyer shows no reluctance to mock others, I don't even feel any guilt.  It's a win-win situation!

Nice shades (Photo source: Gawker)

Let's take a look at this recent piece where he questions some of the decisions made by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly:

If you've read much of Neyer's work, it becomes obvious that he thinks is smarter than most Major League managers.

Neyer begins by praising Mattingly for using the team's best reliever (Kenley Jansen) instead of the team's closer (Brandon League) in a key situation.  In typical Neyer fashion, the compliment is served in a backhanded manner: 
Hey, that's great! Mattingly figured Jansen's his best reliever and used him against the Diamondbacks' best hitters! Bravo!
But wouldn't it still make sense to use a good pitcher in the ninth?
Neyer takes issue with Mattingly's use of League in the ninth inning since League hasn't proven to be effective in that role.  The criticism is confusing because Neyer goes on to admit that none of the Dodgers' relievers are especially good. 

So what's the problem?  So far Neyer has praised one of Mattingly's moves and defended another.  Shouldn't this article be titled "Don Mattingly: Doing a Swell Job?"

The problem comes when Mattingly gives part of the reasoning behind his moves: League had better career numbers against the scheduled hitters than Jansen did.

I think that Mattingly's rationale was solid.  While the sample size wasn't large, it wasn't like he had many good options.  Why not go with the guy who has had success against those hitters?

Naturally, Neyer disagrees:
... and you really have to wonder about your manager's marbles, since 0 for 5 and five for 10 are utterly meaningless in this context. If tiny batter-versus-pitcher samples are your rationale for bullpen decisions, you're doing it wrong.
But then again, when you're bullpen's got 15 losses, you're probably doing something wrong. Or you're making a lot of solid decisions that just didn't work. That's possible, I guess.

So even though he already admitted that the Dodgers don't have good relievers, the team's problems are obviously the fault of Mattingly because he uses such ridiculous logic.

I'm impressed that Neyer was able to restrain himself.  Here's what he probably wanted to write:

That foolish manager!  The ignoramus actually uses batter-versus-pitcher samples?  Sabermetrics has declared that such things are not definitive therefore they must not be considered in any decisions!

Those 15 losses are clearly all his fault.  If I were the manager, I would have found a way for the team to have won all of those games.  For I am Rob Neyer, Baseball Genius!

Thank you for holding back, Rob.  And thank you for the inspiration!


  1. Neyer was absolutely right. Describing the sample size as "not large" is incredibly misleading. A sample of five to fifteen at-bats is essentially not a sample at all. Any information you could garner is just noise.

    And with regards to the bullpen's losses, the issue is not that they have a terrible bullpen with Mattingly doing the best he can, but that they have some good relievers who aren't being used optimally.

  2. Strum is a fool and clearly has no knowledge of baseball on any level.

  3. Oh and Donnie put the a Dodgers squad that sucked the year before into the playoffs and even won a playoff series in 2013. I'd say he did pretty good with his bullpen, a LOT better than strum could have done.