Thursday, September 17, 2015

7 comments Advanced Statistics Loses Again to "Being There" To Watch a Player's Brilliance

Advanced statistics loses again unfortunately. Jerry Green show how advanced statistics can't measure things that aren't quantifiable like "being there" to see how great a player is. In your face statistics! You can't measure things that can't be quantified! Where is your statistical-based God now? Go cry in your mom's basement, losers!

I am always amused at articles that say, "Statistics can't measure the grace Player X played the game with" as if there is a way to measure these intangible things and it's only Sabermetrics or advanced statistics that come up short. Yes, those things that can't be quantified will nearly always remain non-quantified. Jerry Green can't measure the grace Clemente played the game with either, even if he saw Clemente play.

Jerry Green thinks Roberto Clemente is better than Willie Mays and somehow this has something to do with advanced statistics disagreeing with his premise. Also Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is prominently involved in Green's reasoning for why Clemente is better than Mays. Okay, then.

The greatest player in the history of Major League Baseball sat in the ramshackle shed of the visitors' clubhouse in venerable Crosley Field in Cincinnati. He fidgeted and twisted his neck and his shoulders, an athlete in perpetual motion. He was attended by a trainer who massaged his shoulders and an interpreter to translate back and forth between English and Spanish.

I did not know that David Eckstein spoke Spanish. You learn something new every day.

Roberto Clemente might not have been the perfect baseball player. But no other player in the game's 140 seasons has been closer to perfection.

140 seasons of baseball. It's the Twitter-versary for baseball, much to the chagrin of Jerry Green, the man who hates technology. 

Not Ty Cobb. Not Babe Ruth. Not Willie Mays. Not even Mike Trout, the Irreplaceable.

It is a personal opinion, arrived at belatedly, that Clemente was the baseball player nonpareil.

This is a personal opinion and isn't fact? In this article, Jerry Green will disagree with his own previous opinion on who the greatest baseball player of all-time was, so it's good to know Jerry recognizes his opinion is an opinion and not a fact, or else he would run the risk of playing loose with facts. We all know those who don't like advanced statistics would never play loose with facts or be blind to facts/realities in order to further their own agenda. 

It is an opinion that might be shared by only few other ancient souls captivated by sports.

Or Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Or people who really believe Clemente is one of the best baseball players of all-time. 

For sure, today's Internet blogging juveniles with their higher-brow obsession with metrics will launch darts at this premise.

I genuinely have no idea what Internet blogging juveniles have to do with whether Roberto Clemente is the greatest baseball player of all-time or not. I'm not sure Jerry Green knows either. He just knows that every single article he writes about baseball must contain one shot at Sabermetrics or advanced statistics. So apparently Jerry believe that Willie Mays is a Sabermetrics God and Roberto Clemente is the lowly, traditional statistics loser who just can't get a fair break from advanced statistics.

Of course, Clemente is 8th all-time in WAR, which just happens to be one of Green's favorite advanced statistics punching bag stats, but like I said, Jerry would never play loose with facts or be blind to reality. Jerry just doesn't care to do the required research. Why do work when you have an opinion? Clemente is 8th all-time in WAR, but Jerry Green has set up a reality where Internet blogging juveniles will launch darts at the premise Clemente is the greatest player in MLB history.

But they did not see Roberto Clemente play with grace and sharpened skills and with pride in his carriage.

No, "they" did not. That's why these metrics only have Clemente as #1 in baseball history in total zone runs for a right fielder. If they respected him more, perhaps he could be higher than that. But no, these same high-brow metrics only have Clemente as #2 all-time in total zone runs for all outfielders. What a bunch of disrespect from a group of people who never saw Clemente play one game in the majors. Because everyone who uses advanced statistics is young. This is a fact, so don't bother arguing with it.

Clemente's major problem -- yearning for acceptance and stature as a ballplayer -- was quite simple.

He played baseball in Pittsburgh.

What follows will show that playing in Pittsburgh wasn't the issue. It was that Clemente played in a time with other flashy athletes and he wasn't a flashy player. So playing in Pittsburgh wasn't the issue as much as the age in which Clemente played and how the media covered athletes at the time. But yeah, Pittsburgh was the entirety of the issue according to Jerry Green. Now Jerry Green will show this is not the entirety of the issue. 

He played in Pittsburgh in an era during which marvelous athletes were publicized and glorified. Television was in its adolescence, still a new medium. Print journalism dominated, and newspapers reached out to cover celebrated athletes.

Pittsburgh was the problem though. Not the media's fascination with "interesting" or flashy athletes. That wasn't part of the issue. 

Namath, Ali – they were the greatest and we the press (still a 1960s word) believed and said so.

They were extroverts and their images were splashed on the covers of national magazines as they were in the daily print press.

And then there was Roberto Clemente. The greatest of all baseball players.

Jerry Green wants everyone to know this is an opinion. Not a fact. Don't be confused and think Jerry Green's opinions are always facts. But he's right, so this opinion may as well be a fact, no matter what those high-brow, WAR-loving assholes who use advanced statistics tell you. 

He played in the same sports era as the wondrous Willie Mays. They were rivals on the field. But Willie had the luxury of playing in New York and then in San Francisco when the Giants moved to California. 

We all know athletes on the West Coast receive all the acclaim that athletes on the East Coast receive. That's why Paul Goldschmidt is widely thought among casual fans to be such a great hitter. 

Willie got the acclaim. We-the-press kowtowed to Willie.

And Roberto was locked in isolation.

Pittsburgh though. Playing in Pittsburgh was the problem. Not the media's coverage of Clemente. It's never the media's fault. 

"If I could sleep, I could hit .400," was one of Clemente's favorite sayings.

If a frog had wings, then it wouldn't bump it's ass on the ground. I can see why Clemente didn't get coverage like Ali and Namath did. He just seemed to lack the ability to be cocky or brag about himself. 

He talked about lacking the acclaim of other ballplayers. Mays, his contemporary and rival, in particular. He talked about his pains and aches and his prowess.

His envy of other ballplayers with more recognition was obvious. But also showing was dignity and charm and elegance and kindness.

This is true, but Jerry isn't doing a great job of proving it as true. 

"Nobody does anything better than me in baseball," was another of Clemente's noted quotes.

Elegance and charm. Dignity. Again, I can see why Clemente wasn't covered like Namath and Ali were covered. If he only had the faith in his own ability to the point of cockiness, then perhaps he could have caught the press's eye with a quote about how great he was. Unfortunately, Clemente wasn't capable of this type of thing. 

We'll never know how much more greatness Roberto Clemente had within him after the day he collected his 3,000th hit for the Pirates in the final game of the 1972 season. He was 38 and planned to continue playing.

If Clemente had just played for a few more years and not died then he could have been further disrespected by those who like new school metrics by ending his career as among the Top 5 players all-time in WAR. What disrespect these young kids give to Clemente. 

The well-known story defines Roberto Clemente. He died in the crash of a cargo plane carrying relief supplies from Puerto Rico to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Those of us who then voted in the elections of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown quickly broke the five-year rule. We voted Roberto into the Hall of Fame in a special election.

I look for Hall of Fame members to disconnect the brakes on the car Jack Morris is driving in the hopes he drives off a cliff so that the groundswell of support and emotion for his career will allow them to break the five-year rule and vote him into the Hall of Fame immediately. They will do ANYTHING to get him in, even if they have to murder the one they love to do it. 

Mays hit more home runs during a longer career than Clemente. Clemente had a higher career batting average, .317 to Mays' .302.

Clemente hit 240 home runs in an 18 year career. Mays hit 660 home runs in a 22 year career. But yes, it was the "longer career" that caused Mays' home run stats to look so much better than Clemente's home run stats. Great comparison to even make it seem somewhat like Mays' longer career had something to do with his having 440 more home runs than Clemente. 

Each was an amazing five-tool player – the non-metric evaluation of baseball player's lasting worth. Clemente and Mays, along with Al Kaline, in those years of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1960s, could hit, hit for average, run, throw and field – the traditional five tools.

I like how Jerry differentiates between the "1960's" and the "early 1960's."

Three years ago, after watching rookie Mike Trout as he devastated the World Series-bound Tigers in three games in Anaheim, I invoked memories of Willie Mays. Trout is the rare five-tool player in today's baseball. Then I claimed that Mays was the greatest baseball player ever, and that Trout was the most accomplished player to enter the game in 40 years.

Upon further review, I dispute myself.

Roberto Clemente entered the game in 1955. Mike Trout entered the game in 2011. It's possible that Jerry's comment about Trout is correct. 

Clemente, without checking the updated sabermetrics, was the greatest. 

You are only making yourself sound ignorant and bitter writing things like this. 

He was a superior hitter to Mays, without the power. He had a stronger arm. They were equal as fielders.

But, can Clemente be a superior hitter "without the power"? Even adjusting for the four year difference in their careers and discounting the last four years of his career, Mays still would have had more home runs by a large margin, more RBI's by a large margin, while only have 74 fewer hits, and a batting average that was 0.15 lower than Clemente's batting average. I'm using traditional statistics, not updated Sabermetrics. Even using Jerry's own favored metrics, I'm not sure his conclusion Clemente was better is correct.  

Roberto did not have the glitz of Mays – nor of Trout, bolstered by his Los Angeles exposure.

We all know the exposure Mike Trout receives from playing on the West Coast for the Angels. 

Clemente had one flaw. He played in Pittsburgh.

Well, that and he wasn't covered by the media like other athletes during his time were covered. But mainly it was the whole Pittsburgh thing though, right? Maybe I'm being too high-brow for Jerry's tastes about all of this. 


HH said...

having 440 more home runs than Clemente

660-240=420, Ben.

a batting average that was 0.15 lower than Clemente's batting average

.317-.302=.015, Ben.

Snarf said...

Maybe you're saying this to a degree, but isn't the quoted piece almost an argument in favor of sabermetrics? The press didn't give Clemente asich acclaim because he apparently wasn't flashy, according to the writer. We're sabermetrics available, perhaps more attention or accolades may have been given to Clemente during his time, no?

Eric C said...


Guess who's back?
TMQ @ NY Times

CS said...

Gregg Easterbrook!

Snarf said...

GODFREY DANIEL! Now there is finally someone to remind me again of the inconsistencies in my favorite police procedurals. What a relief. Also, I think highly drafted glory boys were starting to get a little uppity.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I don't do math...though I do math all day. I'm stupid.

Snarf, it can be looked at that way for sure. His defense could be accounted for, as well his other contributions to help his team win.

Eric, nnnnnnnoooooooooooooooooo!

Doesn't he have a list of items "NYT" has gotten wrong every single year? So now he's working for them? What a hack. The best part is there is a correction at the bottom of his TMQ. I just have to find time to cover it now.

D said...

Clemente isn't #8 in WAR, that's Roger Clemens you're linking to. Clemente is #39 all-time in WAR, just behind Bert Blyleven.