Friday, December 5, 2014

5 comments Jerry Green Is Smart Enough to Know He Hates Sabermetrics Even Though He Literally Can Not Spell The Word

Sabermetrics. That is how it is spelled. Jerry Green hates Sabermetrics, but he prefers to spell it "Sabremetrics." So despite knowing very little about Sabermetrics, including how to spell the word, Jerry Green knows he doesn't like the gobbledygook that is stats-based evaluation of baseball players. Maybe Jerry prefers the English spelling of the word or he thinks "Sabremetrics" is the study of Sabre-tooth tigers, but either way, he doesn't spell the word correctly throughout this column. I have been waiting for Jerry's article about how dumb statistics are when discussing the 2014 AL MVP and I have not been disappointed.

He doesn't care to understand Sabermetrics, but he knows enough to know they are based on new ideas and he hates new ideas. He especially hates new, complicated ideas that involve challenging past assumptions in favor of new conclusions that intimidate and scare Jerry about his own baseball knowledge.

The oddity of baseball is that the teams play 162 ballgames through six months from March to September so that fourth and fifth-place clubs might engage in combat in a World Series in October.

It's not really odd. The NFL has teams that weren't high playoff seeds competing in the Super Bowl. The NCAA Tournament had a National Championship Game between two teams that weren't ranked very high in the AP and Coaches Poll. Sports happen.

And then in November, on the glitter of the Major League Network, baseball dishes out the annual awards.

Basically, all the award contests were absolutely predictable.

And it's a bad thing that the award contests were predictable? I don't see how it's a good or bad thing.

Mike Trout, the 21st Century mixture of Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio, won the American League's MVP award with the Angels.

He of course would not have deserved to win if the Angels didn't make the playoffs. After all, how can a player be valuable if the team around him isn't very good? Babe Ruth isn't valuable on a team full of AAA baseball players, but throw him on a team with Lou Gehrig and he suddenly becomes really valuable.

Trout was a unanimous choice after two years of wailing and weeping from the Sabremetrics fiends.

It's "Sabermetrics." 

Yes, the bullying terms that Jerry Green and other "stuck in the mud" anti-statistics writers love to use. Call Sabermetricians nerds, losers, say they live in their mom's basement. Use any juvenile tactic to disprove ideas that the writer doesn't clearly understand himself.

And now these numbers crunchers gloat.

I've not personally read any gloating. Now more gloating than over the past two years from the anti-Saber crowd when Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP.

And if you don't believe they gloat, take a look at the website Five Three Eight with its numbers-ingrained copy.

(Looks at Five Three Eight) The headline is "Finally, Mike Trout is the MVP." In the body of the column the only thing close to gloating is this:

As a rookie, Trout bested Cabrera by a landslide in WAR (10.8 to 7.2) but finished as MVP runner-up because Cabrera won the triple crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs — a somewhat arbitrary feat derided by new-school writers as an out-of-touch relic of the pre-sabermetrics era).

Of course, that's nothing like the name-calling that old school baseball writers use when referring to Sabermetricians and the very idea of using advanced statistics to help judge a baseball player's performance.

We are now inundated not only by numbers, but also by initials. MVP is old-fashioned. Now we have WAR, OPS, and WHIP.

RBI, HBP, OBP, AVG, HR, 2B, 3B, AB, PA, and ERA are all initials as well and these are also old-fashioned statistics. Someone (points at Jerry Green) hasn't thought his argument through entirely.

WAR translates into wins above replacement which translates into gobbledygook.

I love how old school baseball writers latch on to WAR because it spells "war" and it's easy for them to write. There's really no other reason to latch on to WAR as the go-to statistic when discussing advanced statistics.

And no, WAR doesn't translate into gobbledygook at all. It translates into a statistic that may or may not mean something, depending on how it is used. The idea WAR is gobbledygook is balderdash, yet Jerry Green continues with the rigamarole.

The Sabremetrics fanatics

It's "Sabermetrics."

are cheering because Trout finally is the MVP. That award was totally deserved — this past season — because his ballclub finally finished in first place in its division. Not because he led all comers in WAR.

Of course. It makes sense that an individual player should win an individual award because his team played better this year. Why not? An individual award based on team performance. It makes super-good sense and is NOT gobbledygook.

I now have an offering for the Sabremetrics fanciers.

It's "Sabermetrics." 

They should add a category — PUP.

PUP is quite simple. It stands for Performance Under Pressure.

This is a perfectly reasonable statistic if there is a perfectly reasonable way for a person to calculate PUP. If it's based on gobbledlygook, like observations or some other intangible factor, then it's not a reasonable statistic because it does not have a statistical basis.

Kershaw pitched for the best team in the National League. He made the Dodgers the best team in the league.

Trout played graceful and wondrous center field for the best team in the American League. The Angels had the supreme record in the league because they had the most talented player — Trout.

It's possible the Angels won as many games as they won during the 2012 and 2013 seasons because they had the most talented player. Therefore, an argument can be made Trout was the MVP. 

That, in essence, made the Giants the No. 5 seed in the National League playoffs. The Royals qualified as a lofty No. 4 seed in the AL playoffs.

In old-fashioned baseball terms, this was a fourth-place team vs. a fifth-place team in what MLB and the Fox sports spielers maintained was a genuine World Series.

It was a genuine World Series because the Royals and Giants won a one game, five game and seven game series to get to the World Series. They proved they deserve to be in the World Series.

Where were the Angels and Dodgers in late October as the Giants and Royals clashed?

Waiting for next year!

Well, consider my new category PUP.

I will!

Trout and Kershaw each scored 0 — a fat nothing — in a figure that should astound the Sabremetrics stats shakers.

It's "Sabermetrics."  

Trout — with all his great talent — went 1-for-12 in his postseason debut. The Angels were swept out of the playoffs by the Royals.

It was all Trout's fault the Angels didn't beat the Royals. Sounds like a reasonable conclusion.

PUP — Trout zero.

PUP — Kershaw zero.

PUP — Brandon Crawford 10.

Jerry is being about 10% as clever as he perceives himself as being. The fact that he is giving a random "10" to Brandon Crawford doesn't go to highlight the absurdity of WAR, but only highlights that Jerry Green doesn't understand there is some statistical thought to how the WAR statistic is represented. Jerry criticizes that which he doesn't understand...and that which he can't even spell.

Nate Silver — a numbers wizard out of East Lansing — is the inventor of Five Thirty Eight, that kooky website that now collaborates with ESPN. More initials.

Nate Silver isn't a "numbers wizard." He is someone who uses statistical analysis to reach conclusions. What the hell did they teach when Jerry Green was in college? Were there no economics or statistics courses that students had to take?

Silver really is brainy intelligent — and is magical in predicting the results of national elections. He's not quite so hot in analyzing baseball and occasionally is a bit short on English grammar.

Says the guy who can't spell "Sabermetrics," which is the topic of this article. It's not so hot to criticize Nate Silver's grammar in an article where the main topic of the article is consistently misspelled.

But who's great all the time? Not even MVPs Trout and/or Kershaw.

Great point. Wish you could remember that you just expected Trout and Kershaw to be great all the time.

What the hell? Who said MVPs had to be great all the time? It couldn't be Jerry Green, the guy who just criticized Trout and Kershaw for not being great in a specific small sample size. It scares me to wonder how bad sports journalism was back when the reader of the sports pages couldn't give feedback or question the conclusion the author reached. I think this defensiveness and refusal to adapt or gather new knowledge is the result of a lifetime of not having one's own thoughts challenged and questioned.

Silver wrote after the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the World Series that Alex Gordon should have tried to score on the ball he hit to center field.

It was Silver's estimate that Gordon might have had a 30 percent chance of scoring if he had continued — thus, tying the score.

By my rudimentary math, that means Gordon would have had a 70-percent chance of being thrown out at home plate. For the final out of the World Series.

Here's the article Jerry Green discusses without being so polite as to provide a link.  

And yes, Jerry Green doesn't understand what he's reading. Therein lies part of the problem (as I suspected) with his anti-Sabermetrics (or "Sabremetrics") stance. Jerry doesn't understand Sabermetrics or the use of statistics to discuss probabilities, so he dismisses Sabermetrics as "gobbledlygook" because he personally doesn't understand what is being stated. It's the same thing as your father slamming down the remote control out of frustration because he can't figure out how to turn the volume up. It's obviously the remote control's fault that your father doesn't know how to use said remote control. Jerry Green is afraid of that which he doesn't understand.

The article states that the Royals had a 25% chance of winning the game with Gordon on third base. So at a 30% chance of scoring the tying run, trying to score was a better option than Gordon being on third base. Again, you don't have to believe what Silver is writing, but when criticizing what Silver is writing, it is important to understand why he writes what he does. Jerry Green fails to do this. So yes, Jerry has rudimentary math because if Gordon scores 30% of the time, it gives the Royals better odds of winning the game as compared to having Gordon standing on third base with Salvador Perez at-bat.

Here is the explanation that Jerry is simply ignoring:

These decisions can be counterintuitive. Sometimes a strategy that’s successful less than 50 percent of the time — like splitting eights in blackjack — is still the right move because the alternative is even worse. In this case, the alternative involved trying to score against Bumgarner with your catcher at the plate and two outs, and then having to prevail in extra innings.

In the article that Jerry criticizes but obviously didn't read all the way through, he explains how a 30% chance of Gordon scoring could have been the better option for the Royals. 

Bumgarner got the decisive out on the next batter when Salvador Perez fouled out. And the Giants, having won the World Series for the third time in five seasons, were immediately classified as a dynasty.

Not universally, but continue...

Even though they were the equivalent of a fifth-place team.

During the regular season they were, yes. Then they won three playoff series and a Wild Card game to win the World Series. They showed they deserved to be World Series champs.

Bumgarner received 100 percent of the plaudits and certainly deserved a perfect 10 in my PUP system.

And as for Crawford, who also earned a 10 in PUP, he was just the relay man who caused Gordon to be halted at third base by Royals coach Mike Jirschele.

I recognize that Jerry is trying to be funny and cute, but there is no statistically backing for PUP. There is statistical backing for WAR. Again, Jerry's use of PUP only goes to prove to me he doesn't understand WAR and is simply afraid of that which he doesn't understand.

Just the relay man. With his back to Gordon and the infield, Crawford short-hopped the relay throw. He made a perfect pick up of a ball twice misplayed in the outfield. An extremely difficult play on which any flub would have resulted in Gordon scoring.

Yeah, but Green says Gordon would have only scored 30% of the time, so the flub only would have hurt the Giants 30% of the time, and Crawford probably doesn't deserve a "10" on the PUP scale since the stakes weren't that high.

Nobody really realized that Crawford deserved a 10 in Performance Under Pressure for his pick-up of the hot baseball. At least until a few days later on the TV replays of the champagne-spraying aftermath.

I think it's hilarious that Jerry Green tries to prove the uselessness of WAR by creating an alternative statistic not based on statistics and clearly not understanding an article on "Five Thirty Eight." As expected, Jerry Green only hates because he feels threatened by knowledge he's too lazy to learn.


Anonymous said...

"We are now inundated not only by numbers, but also by initials. MVP is old-fashioned. Now we have WAR, OPS, and WHIP."

As a kid I started getting into baseball in the mid-90's and I remember WHIP was used to evaluate pitchers back then so it's not really a new statistic. Also, if you can not understand how WHIP works then you are a moron.

What I don't understand about all of these "anti advanced statistics articles" is that they are only written by baseball writers. Advanced analytics are used in football, basketball, hockey etc. yet I haven't come across one post bashing the advanced stats used in those sports.

Snarf said...

Ironically, there is a stat that simulates the notion of PUP, win probability added (wpa). It inherently weights events (batting only, no defense) based on situational importance. Wouldn't you know it, Trout led MLB in WPA in 2014...

Anonymous said...

I'm from the Toronto area, and I can assure you there is plenty of anti-stat articles about hockey from the MSM. Even live commentators for certain teams will say ignorant phrases like 'analidiots' while also publicly demeaning star players.

Zidane Valor said...

Jerry Green's article would make a hell of a lot more sense if instead of bashing advanced statistics, his premise was "I think the MVP should include the postseason".

The MVP has always been a regular season award, so the facts that Trout went 1-for-12 (because players never slump for 3 or 4 games) and Kershaw got lit up are completely meaningless and his PUP statistic makes no sense in the context of his argument.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I've read a few articles about how advanced stats doesn't really work for the NBA or is messing up player evaluation, but it's a different tone. It's a tone of "This is a new method I don't agree with, but I get how others use this metric," not "This is stupid and I won't understand or use it."

Snarf, how did Trout do the past two seasons in that stat? He led the AL in 2012. Also, Paul Goldschmidt is a very good hitter.

Anon, what? For real? That seems a bit much. This is the problem with sports. No one can accept new ideas or disagreement.

Zidane, interesting view. Yeah, I would have argued on that point possibly, but otherwise if he is going to bring postseason stats into it, then he may as well just say "Include the postseason," but that wouldn't do enough bashing of advanced stats.