I think advanced statistical analysis can be very useful when analyzing baseball, and that it can indeed provide a deeper understanding of the game.
But I think that it may have been taken a little too far.
I am a longtime baseball fan, and I try to absorb as much knowledge and information about baseball as I can. Lately, I have found myself getting a bit frustrated, as more and more, baseball analysis seems too focused on sabermetrics. And by delving too deeply into the numbers, I think that many people have lost sight of the big picture.
I am also annoyed by some members of the saber community. For a group that supposedly seeks a more enlightened approach to baseball analysis, I have found that many saber fans are actually quite closed minded. Many have become so convinced that sabermetrics is the end-all, be-all of baseball analysis that they refuse to consider any alternative.
According to many saber fans, if your case doesn't use the latest and greatest set of statistics, then you don't have a case at all. If you can't back up your point using advanced metrics, then you're going to be regarded as either ignorant or stupid.
"You're using RBIs to measure a player's value? How foolish! Everyone knows that OPS is a much more accurate barometer of a player's worth."
Go ahead and try to claim that despite a lesser WAR value, one player is superior than another. Many saber fans will act like you just declared the world to be flat.
I've found that some of the worst offenders are the mainstream analysts who should be doing their best to help bring saber awareness to the masses. ESPN.com's Keith Law and SB Nation's Rob Neyer have done the saber community no favors with their snarky, condescending writing.
I don't want this blog to resort to the standard anti-saber "nerds are ruining baseball!" commentary. Instead, here are the main points I would like to get across:
- Being able to look up statistics doesn't make you a baseball expert. I feel like too many people have decided that they are now an authority on baseball just because they have access to advanced statistics.
- Scouts, managers, and sportswriters who have followed, or been a part of the game of baseball for decades just might have some knowledge about the game that might go beyond looking at statistics.
- And finally, while I feel that the numbers can go a long way towards explaining baseball, I also feel that they don't tell the whole story.
Baseball isn't just about which player has the best numbers. It's also about the big moments. It's about Chris Carpenter outdueling Roy Halladay. It's about Bobby Thompson, Joe Carter, David Freese, and many others hitting home runs that will forever be ingrained in baseball history.
Moments like that can't be captured purely by statistics.
I just hope that everyone reading this keeps an open mind. If you're willing to look at things from a different angle, you might realize that sabermetrics aren't necessarily the absolute truth that some people have made them out to be.