Friday, September 2, 2011

2 comments I Will Keep Writing Until Murray Chass Gets It

Murray Chass has tried, yet again, to get me to name this blog "Block Murray Chass' Non-Blog URL." He has a new post on his non-blog up and a sub-section of the post where Murray bemoans the increase in Wild Card teams he has a section titled, "Neo-Numbers May Have to Be Old Numbers." It's horrific. It's clear Murray is still bitter Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award in the AL last year. I don't think Murray wants to try and understand newer statistics, he just knows he doesn't like them and much like Joe Morgan doesn't care to hear arguments contrary to his opinion, nor does he attempt to understand the counter-arguments.

Maybe much could change in the last six weeks of the season to change this outlook, but from the looks of things now, the neo-number guys are going to have a tough time pulling an American League Cy Young award winner out of their computerized hat.

Wow. Murray threw a lot at us in that compound sentence. Let's break this down sentence fragment by sentence fragment to get a better understanding of Murray's lack of understanding.

Maybe much could change in the last six weeks of the season to change this outlook,

I don't believe what Murray is trying to tell us. So Murray is saying something could change over the last six weeks of this season and he would come to the conclusion those people who love more modern statistics are right about some things, check that---anything, related to the Cy Young race. Does anyone really believe Murray's mind is open enough to change? Not shockingly, last year the best pitcher in the American League, Felix Hernandez, was at the top of nearly every category excepts for wins and Murray still didn't think Hernandez should have won the Cy Young award.

As we will learn very, very of modern statistics, neo-number guys as Murray calls them, were wrong last year when they relied on every single statistic except wins to say Felix Hernandez should have won the Cy Young award. Neo-number guys are wrong again this year when they rely on statistics like wins or use the other categories Justin Verlander leads the American League in because they are "old numbers" categories. See, neo-numbers people are wrong to use new numbers to evaluate a pitcher because these statistics are useless, but if they use old numbers that is further proof of how useless the "neo-statistics" are. So either way, if we use Murray's favorite statistics or not, the neo-numbers guys are wrong in Murray's mind.

but from the looks of things now, the neo-number guys are going to have a tough time pulling an American League Cy Young award winner

Here is the basic failure in Murray's gradually dementia-filled mind. He thinks, because he is an old fart who thinks this way so he just assumes everyone else is as stupid and closed-minded as he is, that fans of neo-numbers (I will accept this moniker because it is fairly short to write, I don't accept it because I like it) ONLY LIKE THOSE NEO-NUMBERS and don't care to use other statistics. This couldn't be further from the truth. Simply because Murray is a close-minded fool and can't accept new-age statistics doesn't mean fans of new-age statistics don't accept more modern statistics AND older statistics at the same time.

This isn't a zero sum game. I am not a huge fan of wins, but I am not like Murray Chass either. I won't say "wins are useless and should never be used." I have no problem if wins are used to evaluate a pitcher. Evaluating a pitcher solely on wins without using supporting statistics is stupid, just like evaluating a pitcher on ERA with no other supporting statistics is stupid. That's why it was (is) so infuriating to hear Murray whining still about Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young award last year. If he didn't have the best ERA in the American League or a great number of strikeouts you wouldn't hear whining from Murray, but because Felix didn't have enough wins (which is a team-based statistic, not an individual one) then his whole candidacy was shot.

That is the problem. Murray assumes fans of new-age statistics can't accept the use of old statistics to evaluate a pitcher. It's not true. Using ONLY old statistics and ignoring further, potentially contradictory, evidence from newer statistics is what is infuriating. So Murray assumes fans of new-age statistics will only want to use those statistics to evaluate Justin Verlander's Cy Young candidacy, when this couldn't be further from the truth. It is not the use of older statistics that irritates fans of new-age statistics, but the willful ignoring of new statistics which give a different perspective on that pitcher's performance. Those who use Sabermetrics aren't wanting to ignore what older statistics say about a player, they just don't want the older statistics to be the final answer in an evaluation on that player.

out of their computerized hat.

OHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Good one! Neo-number lovers don’t even use real hats. Instead they use a computer as their hat. You can always spot a new-age statistics lover because he is the one wearing a Sony Vaio on his head instead of a hat.

This is just silly. It’s just a cliché to say neo-numbers people love everything computerized. Let me guess, most of them live in their mother’s basement as well? This goes to show just how out of touch Murray truly is. The cliché of a Sabermetrician working out of his mother’s basement has been obliterated by mainstream acceptance of the use of Sabermetric statistics. To try and make a “computerized” joke is for Murray to simply show just how much he has fallen behind in the realm of player analysis commonly used in the media today.

As I have said before, it reflects more on Murray Chass and his baseball knowledge that he makes a comment like this more than it reflects on the target of his ridicule.

Last year they came up with Felix Hernandez,

I like the use of “they.” The second the BBWAA goes against what Murray Chass believes should be the result of the Cy Young ballot, they are now a part of the conspiracy to use computers instead of real baseball players.

whose 13-12 record belied everything the award had ever meant.

The Cy Young award was created for pitchers like Felix Hernandez. It was created to honor the best pitcher in the National and American League. Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League in 2010. I covered Hernandez’s numbers an enormous amount of times last year and Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League last year. So Murray Chass is full of shit when he says the 13-12 record belies everything the award had ever meant.

The Cy Young award wasn’t created to honor “the pitcher in the National and American League who have the most wins” nor “the pitcher in the American and National League who plays for the best team in each league.” It is to honor the best pitcher in each league. Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League. The only statistic he wasn’t among the leaders in was wins...which as I have covered very often is a team-based individual statistic.

The neo-number guys told us that wins don’t mean anything

That’s not true. Anyone can make the opposing view on an issue sound crazy or contradictory when it is framed in a false light. Neo-numbers guys said very plainly, if you are not going to give the Cy Young award to a pitcher based on the number of wins that pitcher has then you are wrong. This is because wins aren’t a statistical category for a pitcher that should be the final determinant of how well a pitcher pitched. That’s all that is being said. Wins are tied to run support, which is something a pitcher can not control, especially in the American League. So don’t deny a pitcher the Cy Young award based solely on that category.

That’s it. That’s the counter-argument to allowing wins to be the sole determinant of whether a pitcher should win the Cy Young award or not. Don’t frame the argument to make you sound sane. What is insane is to deny a pitcher who is at the top of nearly pitching statistic the Cy Young award because he doesn’t lead the American League in one category. That’s crazy and unreasonable.

that it’s the last thing on which to judge a pitcher.

Solely. Wins are the last thing on which to judge a pitcher solely. The fact Murray Chass is framing the counter-argument in such an inaccurate light tells me either (a) he doesn’t comprehend the counter-argument so he just hates it rather than admit he doesn’t understand or (b) he doesn’t care to understand or listen to the counter-argument.

Either way, there’s no excuse for this willful ignorance. There’s nothing wrong with arguing against advances or movements towards different theories, but argue on the merits of your current argument compared to the counter-argument. Don’t argue based on framing the counter-argument poorly and clearly failing to even understand or want to understand the counter-argument.

Forget Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Catfish Hunter, Jim Palmer, Ferguson Jenkins, Robin Roberts and all those other guys.

I’m sorry, who are these guys again? Are these computers? I like neo-statistics and I want everything to be run by computers. I don’t even want there to be baseball games in stadiums with concession stands, I just want there to be computer simulations in stadiums where I can wear my computerized hat and eat computerized popcorn.

This season, however, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and Jered Weaver are not only the leading winners in the American League, but they are also the leaders in many other pitching categories like earned run average, opponents’ batting average, strikeouts and innings pitched.

Exactly. These three guys should be at the top of the list in the AL Cy Young race. They are leading or are at the top of the American League in many pitching categories, just like Felix Hernandez was last year. Yet for some reason, Hernandez led or was at the top of the American League in these categories last year and Murray didn’t champion his cause as the AL Cy Young award winner because he didn’t have enough wins.

(Also, I wouldn’t put CC Sabathia highly in the Cy Young race. If I did, he would be a distant 3rd)

Murray is so dense, he doesn’t understand what he is writing doesn’t make sense. Why would neo-numbers guys re-think their position when the top 3 pitchers in the American League are at the top of most pitching categories, as well as near the top in wins, when this was all true for Felix Hernandez last year as well…except he only had 13 wins? Shouldn't this tell Murray something about wins? How a pitcher can pitch extraordinarily well and only end up with 13 wins?

Shouldn’t it be Murray who should re-think his position? These three guys show the direct correlation between runs support and wins. These three guys are in the same position as Felix Hernandez was last year, except the guy with the lowest run support, Jered Weaver, currently has the fewest wins. The two guys with the most run support, CC Sabathia and Verlander, have the two most wins. Verlander and Weaver have three and four “tough losses” each, while Sabathia has one “tough loss.” So Murray should re-think his position because if he took the time to delve into the numbers he could see Hernandez had 8 “tough losses” last year, which if he wins half of those games, then he has a 17 win season and clearly deserves to win the AL Cy Young award in the eyes of Murray Chass. Murray should re-think his position knowing the only statistic Felix Hernandez lacked being at the top of the leader board when compared to the three guys Murray is championing this year is “wins.” So couldn’t “wins” be a misleading statistic?

My goodness, Verlander even has the No. 1 WAR ranking among A.L. pitchers

So now Murray is using neo-numbers to help show the old statistics aren’t misleading anyone as to how good Verlander really is. This is exactly how neo-numbers should be used…in conjunction with older statistics. I would give Murray props for this, but unfortunately he is using a combination of new and old statistics not to show how the old and new statistics can meld together well, instead he is using the combination to show how only old statistics are useful. It’s madness.

What’s a voter to do? He might have to become instantly old and wise.

No, no, no, no. A voter is to use a combination of both statistics to come to a conclusion. That’s the purpose of neo-statistics, not to take over for old statistics, but to help supplement older statistics.

Which reminds me that in last Monday’s Boston Globe, Dan Shaughnessy had a terrific column about Carlos Slim, the world’s wealthiest man and a great and knowledgeable baseball fan, who was at Fenway Park for the series finale between the Red Sox and the Yankees.

That same day The New York Times’ baseball column was about WAR.

(speechless) And? What’s the point? I don’t get it. This is the end of the column. Seriously, Murray quits writing here. What kind of ending is this?

“This reminds me. I watched an alligator on television the other day suddenly rise of out the water and eat an unsuspecting deer at the water’s edge. Later that day, I ate a burrito.”

What is the intrigue with Dan Shaughnessy writing a terrific column (which I remain skeptical could actually happen, so perhaps I should read this column) about Carlos Slim and The New York Times writing about WAR? Maybe I am too stupid to understand the correlation between these two events. Either way, this is a weird way to end his column.

I should probably just be thankful when Murray quits writing about new-age statistics and not complain about how he quits writing about new-age statistics.


rich said...

whose 13-12 record belied everything the award had ever meant.

It frightens me how absolutely stubborn some people are. Just because one thing about him wasn't good, doesn't mean he completely sucks. His team was terrible and gave him no run support and so while all of his other stats were fantastic his win-loss record was bad.

It's like driving behind a guy going 20 under the speed limit in a Geo and saying that your Ferrari is a piece of shit. It's not your Ferrari, it's the Geo in front of you.

Ivan Nova is 14-4 with a nearly 4 ERA. If he's better this year than Hernandez was last year, then Chass is a knuckle dragging Neanderthal.

What about Tim Lincecum this year? 2.58 ERA, a 142 ERA+ and is 12-10. Is Nova a better pitcher than him? Win-Loss record is a team statistic. If your pitcher goes for a complete game in a 1-0 loss, he deserves a helluva lot more credit than a guy who goes 6 innings and allows 4 runs in a 5-4 victory. It's like an NFL team losing a game 7-0 and the media saying that the defense was the problem.

This whole "great players find a way to win" thing is meaningless for pitchers in baseball. What can a pitcher do to help his offense? Even in the NL, they bat three times a game and so opportunities to drive in runs are rather scarce.

That's what makes Chass' argument even more egregious. Felix Hernandez doesn't even get to hit, so other than limiting runs, there's nothing he could do and that's even ignoring the fact that the Cy Young is a pitching award and not a pitching/hitting award.

Even then, a lot of the games he lost were with 0 or 1 run of support. What this means is that even if Hernandez were near perfect and had an ERA of 1.00 for the season, he'd end up with maybe 15 wins instead of 13. That's when you know it's not the pitcher's fault and so you can't hold a pathetic offense against the guy for an award meant to reward the best pitcher.

I pray to God that the Mets hire Chass as GM just so they can continue to suck for the next three decades.

I think this kind of thinking is what has completely screwed up most people. In an age where you can contact virtually everyone in the world, you can always find someone who agrees with you, no matter how batshit stupid your idea is. The danger in this is that you don't have to hear the opposing side and at the same time you're reinforcing the idea that you're right and it's everyone else who is a complete moron.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that's what irritating to me too. Nothing else about Felix's season was bad or less than dominant, but because one statistic wasn't near the top of the league it meant it proved he didn't pitch well.

The only thing Hernandez could do is sit on the bench and hope his historically terrible offense gets a few hits and runs to win the game. I would imagine Murray would say Lincecum doesn't deserve any sort of discussion for the NL Cy Young. That much is clear.

What I find more scary is I am sure there are a ton of readers who write in to Murray and say how wrong he is, but I would be he only prints the crazy people who don't make themselves sound intelligent or he just ignores what they have to say. He isn't open to new ideas but expects to be able to convince everyone else his ideas are correct.

How can every statistic for a pitcher be great, but one solitary one stink, and then you discount everything that pitcher did that year for someone who has more wins?