I really like baseball, but I’m not a stat head. Talking about baseball outside of the blogs, I hear a lot of people add this qualifier when they talk about being a fan. Of course, then most of them go on to remark on the statistics in some way – commenting on a particular player’s batting average, or their team’s Ace’s ERA for example. At first glance, this appears to be a contradiction.
Personally, I can no longer get away with the but I’m not a stat geek qualifier without my husband affectionately mocking me…just because I have been known to describe increased individually weighted segmentation in metrics for everything from corporate annual goals to Weight Watcher points as moving from a straight batting average to OPS. Is that any reason I ask you? Yeah, don’t answer that.
Suffice to say, I do love the stats. I think they’re a lot of fun and one important way to assess a player. However, the things I like the most about particular players cannot be described by stats – drive, hustle, work ethic, being a team player, guts, strategy, intelligence and the player trait that’s most important to me: is the guy clutch? So I would argue that I’m not a stat head either.
I think the reason for the seeming disconnect here is a problem with language. What most of us, myself included, mean when we say I’m not a stat head is that I’m not a person who values the numbers more than the human drama on the field, I don’t think that stats trump what you know with your eyes and your gut. And this is all well and good right up until we self professed non stat heads try to explain the ways in which a player we like exhibits the qualities we do admire – the guts, the hustle, the clutch. Once you’ve said it, how do you explain it? You either start describing a litany of specific feats of prowess during a game or you try to quantify these unquantifiable qualities with the only measure you have available, the stats. This is a conundrum only baseball could produce – even when you are absolutely not a stat head, you still embrace the statistics.
That said, has anyone else noticed how much adding in the sabermetric stats make baseball stats look an awful lot like D&D and other roleplaying game stats?
D&D Character: 17 STR mod +1, 14 DEX, -2 AC
I’m not entirely convinced this is coincidental. Many of the sabermaticians who came up with these stats were Ivy League math majors, after all. The fact that every time I read one of the more detailed free agent analyses I find myself thinking things like “It looks like a homerun? I don’t think so. My 18 UZR Carl Crawford casts magic missile. Role one D20 to see if your spell was successful,” however, must be entirely coincidental. Clearly I am not someone who would know anything about such things from their youth 😉
The American League Golden Glove winners were announced today – Congratulations to the winners! I think that the coaches and managers who voted this year really got it right. Longoria? Teixeira? Ichiro? Mauer? These, and the others, are players who took my breath away with seemingly impossible plays time and time again this season.
Yes, I am disappointed for Torii Hunter. I would have liked to see him win his tenth Golden Glove in a row, but I also would have liked to see a performance worthy of that honor this year. Sadly, his performance was not, especially with Crawford, Ichiro and Gutierrez in the running. But, I don’t think this is the beginning of the end for Torii at all. I think the issues this year were less age related than trying to be everything for everyone at once. Until the outfield changes he was trying to cover more ground than ever before to make up for weaknesses in the corners and expending more energy than any other player on the team to try and prop up morale and light up a spark in the clubhouse. Torii’s move to right field was as generous and team spirited as anyone could ask for, but it was not without its challenges, namely a shorter distance to the warning track and that tricky corner between the right field pavilion and the beginning of the visitor’s side field seats to learn.
Fortunately these are all issues that can be remedied in the 2011 season by starting with the new outfield structure and with practice, practice, practice…and if Carl Crawford just happens to show up in the Angels Christmas stocking, so much the better ;). I think Torii still has that 10th Golden Glove season in him, and maybe more. Who knows, maybe next year there will be two AL right fielders winning Golden Glove honors (because I don’t think for a second that Ichiro is going to deliver anything less than a Golden Glove winning performance next year)? And we have our up and comer Peter Bourjos as well. With the 2nd most assists (10) and the highest Total Zone Runs (17) in center field this year…as a rookie…playing only 51 games…I am certain there is gold somewhere in his future, if not in 2011, then soon. So, one way or the other, I have reason to hope there will be an Angel worthy of this list next year.
In the mean time, damn, that is one impressive list!