However, now I have found one: Moneyball.
I know, I know, it's been around since the early 2000s thanks to Billy Beane and the Oakland A's. It has become the cool thing of the decade when talking about players- their "sabremetric stats". Guys like John Hollinger over at ESPN have made a living with these stats- and hes basketball!! I got into an argument with a guy over Wilson Chandler of the Knicks because he said "none of Chandler's metrics equal out to being anything more than average at best." I was beside myself.
When did we stop looking at performance on the field as a way of judging players? Instead of worrying about Chandler's "metrics" let's notice that he improved to almost 15 ppg at just 21 years old- and being that he left school early, with more seasoning in the pros Chandler should improve...right? Not if you believe in "metrics".
The one that pushed me over to the edge was when Jason Commack of 3rdstringsafety.com and "4th Down" fame posted a blog on 3SS that basically tried to defend Bronson Arroyo.
( You can read Jason's post here. )
Now I don't like Arroyo at all, and his bloated ERA will atest to him not being very good. However, if you want to say his playing in Cincinnati is hurtful thanks to their homer friendly ballpark is a viable argument...to a point.
Yet Jason begins using a stat called xFIP- or fielding independent pitching with a normalized home run rate. Hold on....WHAT?!?!
To make it worse, he brings out another one: Outside Contact Percentage. This is the percentage of times a batter makes contact with a ball when swinging at pitches thrown out of the strike zone...again, these make my head hurt. In this instance, Arroyo's is 73% compared to the league average of 62.4%. Im guessing this is a bad stat? So 73% of the time batters make contact with an Arroyo pitch that is out of the strike zone... I dont like that.
Here's the bottom line: Why are we using these stats? Are they an excuse to justify a bad player? "Oh well his ERA and WHIP and record are terrible, but you should see his xFIP!!!"
To me these stats are useless, and just make someone sound smart (no offense to you Jason, you didnt start this problem). They apparently feel the more stats you know, the smarter you are. But at the same time, people are using these stats in place of actually judging a player (ala the Chandler argument and the Arroyo post.)
I think some "newer" stats that have gained some significane, like OPS and WHIP are vital to judging a player. It isnt all about HRs, RBIs and ERAs. But the stats have to give some concrete info towards a player's scouting report. Not a new formula to prove a point.
And if you dont believe me that these things are useless, exactly how many titles has Billy Beane brought to Oakland since he's been this "guru"? I'll give you a hint- it's less than 1.
- Mike T