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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Suprise, Suprise

Okay, take a look at these anonymous stat lines and tell me who you would vote into the All Star Game.

Player A - .319/.461/.656 - 24 hr - 70 rbi
Player B - .271/.334/.497 - 15 hr - 59 rbi
Player C - .326/.371/.446 - 5 hr - 28 rbi
Player D - 1.99 era - 9 wins - 94/20 k/bb
Player E - 3.01 era - 10 wins - 69/33 k/bb

Who would you vote for? Obviously it's got to be player A or D, right? If you're gonna go pitcher, player D is clearly better than player E. And if you want a bat it's not even close. Player A is far more productive than either B or C.

What if you, for some reason were dead set on selecting a player that plays a particular position, say catcher, and you notice that player C fits that bill? You might be inclined to vote for him. But what if I told you player B also fits that bill? You might look at the offensive production and notice that player B has a higher OPS than player C. I would also tell you he is a better defensive catcher than C. In fact, player B has caught 28 of 56 would be base-stealers for a rate of 50%. Player C, on the other hand, has caught only 17 of 57 for a success rate of 29.8%. You'd have to take player B over player C if you wanted a catcher, right?

Wrong. The whole point of this little exercise is that AJ Piersynski (player C) won the fan vote for the final All Star roster spot. Just looking at those numbers makes it clear that not only was he not the best choice for the spot, he was actually the worst. I don't know why this stuff drives me nuts, because I really couldn't care less about the ASG. I guess it's just that when fans consistently vote in undeserving players, it shows that the average fan still knows next to nothing about what makes a baseball player successful.

I don't know how to fix this, but it gets real irksome having the same argument with people over and over about the merits OPS over BA and all the other relatively simple concepts statistical analysis has proved over the years. Maybe it's time to add Bill James' Baseball Abstracts to the junior high PE curriculum.

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