Thursday, June 6, 2013

Saberdouchery: Rob Neyer and Dustin Ackley

In my last post, I mentioned that my goal was to find examples of saberdouchery on the web.  Instead, I found an article by Keith Law that made me reconsider my whole anti-sabermetrics stance.

I started to wonder: Have I been too hard on saberfans?  Are they really not as bad as I have made them out to be?  Is this whole site completely misguided?  (That sound you hear is the saberfans who stumble across the site nodding vigorously)

Fortunately, Rob Neyer restored my faith by providing this excellent example of saberdouchery:

The article has everything: Snark!  Mockery of announcers!  An irrational defense of sabermetrics! Instant dismissal of a person who criticizes sabermetrics!  More snark!

Let's take a look at all the douchey goodness.

The article begins with Neyer taking issue with Braves announcer Joe Simpson.  Simpson suggested that there is a mental aspect to pitching and that it might be tougher for some pitchers to succeed in late game situations.

According to Neyer, this is absolute nonsense.  He probably would have been gracious enough to allow this comment to pass, but then Simpson had the nerve to suggest that sabermetrics (gasp!) might have been wrong about something. 

That obviously crossed a line, and Neyer wasn't going to let Simpson to get away with it.  He dismissed Simpson a Luddite who "wasn't interested in facts" and only sought to impress his fellow non-believers.

Next, Neyer takes a shot at Mariners' manager Eric Wedge.  Wedge tried to explain the struggles of young hitter Justin Ackley, and implied that sabermetrics might be partially to blame.

Uh oh.  Neyer's not gonna like that one bit.

Wedge notes that some people in the Mariners' organization are encouraging a more sabermetric friendly approach while at bat.  As a result, Ackley has been too concerned with taking pitches and trying to draw walks rather than relying on his natural instincts.

I'm not going to deny that patience and a high on-base percentage are good qualities for a hitter to possess.  But it is foolish to think that all hitters will succeed with a patient approach.  There are some hitters whose success is based on a more aggressive approach at the plate

Ackley could be such a hitter.  If he is indeed trying to be more patient in order to please some organizational figures who are stressing high OBP, then it seems entirely possible that the change could be affecting him negatively.

Neyer dismisses this possibility, and there seems to be no real point to the dismissal except for the fact that Wedge criticized sabermetrics. 

Apparently, in Rob Neyer's world, Sabermetrics are perfect and never to be criticized.  It's slightly frightening how obsessed he seems.  He comes off like a top lieutenant in a cult. 

"What do you mean The Leader is not perfect?  How dare you spread such blasphemy!  We must silence the non-believer!  Burn him!"

"Bill James - I mean, The Leader - is all knowing and all seeing!"
Thank you, Rob Neyer.  I feel much better about everything now.


  1. The problem with the sabermetrics geeks that seem to dominate baseball these days is these people are PROUD of the fact that they have never played the game or have any experience IN the game. They think playing it a few times on Playstation and memorizing the numbers should get them ALL of the exec positions in MLB and that they should replace everyone currently enshrined in Cooperstown.

    Precisely why they should all be drummed out of the game on their ears.

    1. You're aware that those "sabermetric geeks" are the reason the A's and Rays have been two of the most successful teams in the last decade, and the reason the Red Sox finally broke their "curse" in '04 and then won again in '07, yes?

    2. Meanwhile teams that avoid sabermetrics like the plague such as the Giants and Cardinals have more WS wins than both the A's and Rays combined.

      Scoreboard, look up at it sparky.

  2. This is really poorly written.

    For one, the idea that a good reliever is good regardless of the inning in which he is pitching has nothing to do with sabermetrics. It's simple logic. You could argue that a pitcher might feel more of an adrenaline rush if he's pitching in extra innings in game 7 of the World Series, but in general the "closer mentality" is hogwash. Neyer is right on point.

    He also criticized Eric Wedge not for "implying" that sabermetrics were "partially" to blame with Dustin Ackley, but for Wedge outright stating that sabermetrics were entirely the problem (an absurd assertion).