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Ranting About Stats

A post on Lookout Landing has pushed me to do a few primers of my own. First up let's look at statistical analysis as a whole.

Economics is called the dismal science, but I'm beginning to wonder if Thomas Carlyle ever gave sabermetrical analysis of baseball a try. Since delving into the world of advanced metrics I've become more enlightened of the game I love, but at the same time it took the innocence away from me. Sure, these metrics can be used to prove the added value of a player, but more than not I find myself using them to disprove the over fangled status hanging on overrated players because of things like "hustle" and "grit" - guys like Ty Wigginton and Darin Erstad, for example.

This concerns me, because usually I'm an optimist at all things. One conclusion I've drawn is the general consensus is almost always flawed in baseball, although that's due to the evolving nature of the game - the growth of teams and talent - more so than everyone in baseball being a moron. While the rules remain the same baseball is played differently depending on the environment - consider that in Japan teams play for one run, whether that be squeeze bunts, sacrifices, or hit and runs. Imported players have commented how the American game differs - players, managers, and fans take runs for granted, something the team should have.

With the evolution of how the game is played, fans need to be able to readily identify and adapt to new measures of talent and ability. While the "scoreboard stats" of the past days - batting average, homeruns, and runs batted in - those are the mainstream measures. We can call them the "Kingsmanian" statistics; Dave Kingman's attributes were average - at times - homeruns, and driving in runs.

Referencing back to the Lookout Landing post, the fans need an easy reference place in order to quickly identify foreign statistics. A better writer than myself started such a thing on this site not too long ago - Dan Scotto's statistical definitions are something that I feel is needed, and I'll soon begin adding to those with his permission intact.  

Perhaps the hardest part of getting into a new statistic is finding the mean of the statistics and what's accepted as "average", "good", and "bad". That's what I intend on attempting to outline here. So without making this too long let's get to the statistics with the overused cliché of "The Good, Bad, and Ugly" worked into a new format: Good, Bearable, Unforgivable.

Stats like VORP have a base of zero, the further apart from zero indicates how truly good, or bad, a player is, same with ERA+ and OPS+, the further from 100 the better or worse. I don't feel the need to outline those, but instead the common and rarer rate stats, like LD%. For this post alone I'm simply outlining ranges rather than explaining why we should use these more intricate measures.

In the coming days we'll look at the statistics in more depth.