It is that time of the year again. It is baseball season. The time when baseball season begins and sportswriters who have seen baseball played for decades and don't need silly statistics or common sense to determine which MLB players are good baseball players and who are not. They get their point of view across by demeaning the opposing view. It is funny, because you never read a statistics-loving baseball fan write a column mocking those non-statistics loving baseball fans for being old. Sure, I do that here, but no famous or popular statistics-oriented writers tend to do this as much. It is just the "old school" that loves to fire shots from the bow and mock those who favor using statistics other than RBI's and batting average to determine a player's worth.
Bruce Jenkins seems to enjoy this. I can't decide if it is more lazy or ignorant to ignore the relevance of new statistical methods and portray stats-crazed dunces as hating "old school" statistics. I think it is probably willful ignorance in the vein of "I don't really understand these new-fangled statistics so they must be bad," combined with laziness in the form of "because I don't understand these statistics and they are used mostly by younger baseball fans I will mock them for living in a basement with their mother regardless of whether this is true or not." Both of these things Bruce Jenkins is guilty of.
As the production of "Moneyball" grinds on, let's hope the filmmakers take great liberties with the facts. Michael Lewis' book was superbly written, but there's nothing more boring than the A's search for no-speed, no-defense guys who could really work a 3-and-1 count on their way to a hopeless career.
Those hopeless careers like Kevin Youkilis has had. Which Burger King does he work at again? Yeah, there were a bunch of guys in "Moneyball" that ended up not making it in the big leagues, but there were also players who succeeded in the majors. I think if you took any team's draft philosophy in MLB, there would end up being more failures than successes. That's just how it is with prospects in Major League Baseball.
A "Moneyball" movie doesn't sound very exciting, but movies have been made about much less interesting sounding premises. I am thinking of a certain movie that was popular this year about a king in speech therapy or how about a movie about the creation of a social network. Neither sound riveting, but they certainly seemed to do pretty well. Filmmakers always take great liberties with the facts. Brad Pitt was cast in the movie "Moneyball." That's already an indication of a movie taking liberties.
Let's see Art Howe as a coke-sniffing, late-night karaoke artist who worships Otis Redding and has memorized every song by the Sons of Champlin. Isolate a front-office executive quietly embezzling funds from the company.I would find this riveting if I knew who the hell Sons of Champlin were without doing an internet search.
Cut to a scene where Paul DePodesta has a sawed-off shotgun in his office, and in private moments he lifts it out of a closet, fondles it, aims at things. One night he pretends to shoot, it goes off, and he takes out classic photos of Joe Rudi and Blue Moon Odom.
Because I am sure 9 out of 10 moviegoers would be able to pick both Joe Rudi and Blue Moon Odom as baseball players, much less be able to understand the significance of DePodesta shooting photos of these two players. This would surely jack up the ticket sales by capturing the all-important "early 1970's Oakland A's nostalgia" target market.
So this is how the column starts off and then while randomly shooting off tidbits of recommendations for Hollywood, Jenkins lets loose with this one:
It won't be long before we get the first wave of nonsense from stat-crazed dunces claiming there's nothing to be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total.
What is so interesting is this is a one-way battle. Other than jackasses like me, you don't see many stat-crazed dunces going bananas and dropping insults in their columns randomly directed towards "old school" baseball writers. If that does happen, like when Tom Verducci called Murray Chass a "blogger," it is done as a direct response to something an "old school" writer has written.
This comment is ignorant because it is one of the weakest forms of arguing. It involves portraying the other side's point of view as so out there, it just doesn't make sense. The problem is that this is a lie. I can't recall ever hearing or reading a stats-crazed dunce say nothing can be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total. That's how Bruce Jenkins portrays this because it makes him stats-crazed dunces seem closed-minded, while making him seem open-minded, when in fact the opposite is true. Bruce Jenkins doesn't like the use of modern statistics without having a good reason to do so. So he attempts to portray the other side as the closed-minded side, when in fact he isn't open to new ideas.
There can be things learned from all three of these statistics. It's just these three statistics aren't the basis of EVERYTHING you can learn about a player's performance. Stats-crazed dunces want to use other statistics, while guys like Bruce Jenkins are against this. So who really has the closed-minded, dunce point of view?
This comment is lazy because it is not even true. No one has claimed this. I hate wins, but something can be learned about a player's performance from a win, but it is not the sum total of all learned knowledge on a player. You can use other statistics to determine in what context a pitcher's win-loss record means something, if it means anything.
If a pitcher has 17 wins, that says he seems to have pitched fairly well that year. It also says perhaps the pitcher got sufficient run support and his bullpen did not blow games after he left the game.
A player with a batting average of .316 tells us that he tends to get a lot of hits and seems to be a pretty good hitter. This statistic covers up the fact this player may have a .337 OBP...or he could have a .379 OBP. Knowing this statistic tells us whether this player gets on-base in ways other than getting a hit, which is pretty important to know. A batting average doesn't tell us what other ways a player gets on-base though, while OBP does give an indication as to how many times a player may have walked or gotten on-base in some other way.
RBI's are a good statistic to be used to see how often a player gets runs across the plate and produces runs for his team. What it doesn't tell us is how many RBI opportunities a player has. A player batting fourth who is on a team that tends to have runners on-base for that clean-up hitter is probably going to have more RBI opportunities, and therefore RBI's, as compared to a player batting fourth on a team that doesn't have players on-base many times when that hitters comes up. Therein lies the limitation of the RBI statistic. So no one wants to get rid of these statistics, but stats-crazed dunces see the limitations of these statistics and use other statistics to get a better overall picture of a player.
Listen, just go back to bed, OK?
This just doesn't really make sense, OK?
Strip down to those fourth-day undies,
This is just lazy. Shitty put-downs towards those who don't agree with you is just a completely lazy form of journalism. Using stereotypes to form the basis of an argument is the lowest form of journalism. Buying into these stereotypes so wholeheartedly says something about that journalist. Here that journalist is Bruce Jenkins. If he can't argue against the merits of the argument presented to him that he opposes, perhaps this is an indication the argument he opposes has merit. This is "yo mama" journalism. No, really it is...
head downstairs (to "your mother's basement and your mother's computer," as Chipper Jones so aptly describes it)
If Chipper Jones said this, then he is an idiot. He's a great hitter, but when it comes to guidance on learned things I am not asking Chipper Jones any tough questions that may need a complex answer. Work on that swing, talk out of the side of your mouth and try to stay healthy. Leave the heavy thinking to others, Chipper.
and churn out some more crap.
Says the guy who just wrote "strip down to those fourth-day undies." Because that's not crap.
DON'T YOU GET IT? PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN OPPOSING OPINION FROM BRUCE JENKINS DON'T HAVE JOBS AND LIVE WITH THEIR MOTHER! THIS IS A CREATIVE, NEVER BEFORE-HEARD THOUGHT! THIS IS SPORTS JOURNALISM AT ITS FINEST!
For more than a century, .220 meant something.
It still does absolutely mean something. It means a hitter doesn't get too many base hits. So knowing this under the "Jenkins method" of hating all other statistics we could say this is a bad hitter who needs to go find other work.
However, under the "logical person who doesn't have his head up his ass method" of analysis, this player could turn out to be similar to Adam Dunn. He slugs 30+ home runs per year and has a OBP of around .380. It turns out this is a valuable baseball player, despite what his batting average says.
So .220 does mean something. No one is arguing it doesn't. A player hitting .220 also doesn't give the entire picture for that baseball player. There are other statistics that can be used to give a fuller picture. Slowly, but surely, smart people are realizing this and it makes Bruce Jenkins very angry.
So did .278, .301, .350, an 18-4 record, or 118 RBIs
It still does. I have no idea why Bruce Jenkins thinks this doesn't mean anything anymore. These statistics do mean something, but there are other statistics that mean something as well. This is all a part of Bruce Jenkins intentionally misstating the opposing viewpoint to make it seem like that viewpoint is outrageous, when in fact it is his viewpoint that is outrageous.
Few stats-oriented people would argue an 18-4 record or 118 RBIs don't mean something. They would argue there are other statistics that help define and clarify these statistics and determine what they really mean or how much significance they have. 118 RBIs can't be seen in a vaccum and fairly compared to another player's RBI total. Bruce Jenkins doesn't see it that way though because he doesn't understand, nor does he care to, opposing points of view. He prefers to mock opposing points of view in writing by talking about underwear and how those who have an opposing view live in their mom's basement.
Now it all means nothing because a bunch of nonathletes are trying to reinvent the game?
Right. Because we need athletes, the big thinkers of the world, reinventing the game. Those are the correct people who need to start creating and doing in-depth analysis on new statistics. This is like saying the Army Corps of Engineers shouldn't be the ones building and designing damns to keep floods out of New Orleans, it should be the people who live in New Orleans who do this because "they know what it is like to live in New Orleans."
I also find it funny that Bruce Jenkins doesn't like nonathletes to reinvent the game, but nonathletes like him...
(here's a picture of Jenkins in mid-athletic pose)
are free to continue to use statistics that were created and used originally by nonathletes to rank athletes. So in summation, it is not good for nonathletes to reinvent statistics, but accepting that nonathletes originally created statistics like RBIs, batting average, and won-loss record is no big deal.
Look at these athletes cowering in fear at Bruce Jenkins' Hawaiian shirt. Athletes like him are the ones who are allowed to use statistics because they understand them and don't live in their mom's basement.
I think this small article was both ignorant and lazy. Quite an accomplishment for just a few sentences.