Hello friends, it’s been a pretty fun first quarter of Blue Jays baseball, we’re right in the thick of things and the Yankees and Red Sox are a respectfully 4th and 5th in the AL East. Life is good. But there is some things that have bothered me and instead of blowing up in a Game day thread in a GIF induced- illegal streaming -swear fest, I thought I’d get it all out in a little segment I call…
You know what grinds my gears?
You know what grinds my gears? Traditional Stats vs Advanced Stats debate.
I’ll get this one out of the way right off the bat, I could probably write 3,000 words on this topic alone, but I’ll keep it brief. Simply put, I equate the Sabermetric statistic movement to the Goth subculture. What started as something potentially great has gone so radical that it makes me want to punch a baby kitten because of the way its proponents use it to excess. There I should have successfully alienated about 91% of y’all, but let me explain what I’m talking about. In the early 1980’s there was a wave of bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and even Sex Pistols and Alice Cooper who’s "punk rock" roots let into a new style of music that turn into what is Gothic Rock today. Well fast forward 20 years and now Goth kids are whiney douche bags with bad hair cuts that write awful poetry and complain about anything Mainstream. Ugh.
Now I need to be careful, I’m not calling Sabrematricians "whiney douchbags" at all, I’m talking about the constant need to turn what were good statistics for further analyzing future probability using historical data, into something completely different. It’s as if in order to make a point, many sabermatricians resort to "straw man" arguments, instead of validating their point, they feel they need to attack stats such as wins, RBI’s, and saves. NO ONE is saying that these stats are without fault and instead of saying "Sure Clay Bucholz has been lucky to be 5-2, he’s got a FIP of 6.65 and a WAR of -0.6", we feel the need to automatically attack the person who uses the win-loss record as a barometer. When we attack "mainstream media" for using stats or the casual fan who likes that Edwin now has 35 RBI’s, to me it’s no different than Goths for attacking "corporate shills" for selling out, whatever the hell that means.
I like 90% of the Sabr stats, but I find myself rebelling against them because I feel they are used to make a point, rather than illuminate a point. My favourite quote is "An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination". I see no problem with using stats to further examine a player compared to another player. (I don’t get using wRC+ or FIP when comparing players on the same team. I’m not sure what adjusting ballparks or fielding for players on the same team shows, but that’s for a different rant at a different time). If you want to argue that Henderson Alvarez is due for regression because of his low K% or Colby is due for improvement because of his high LD%, that is a valid argument, but it doesn’t change the fact that Henderson has been very good thusfar, while Colby has not and more times than not I hear the contrary.
Traditional stats are not without their fault, no one is arguing that, but they are absolutely not useless, which is a word I see daily. It seems like over any large sample size (which is a term stats lovers love), whether it be a season, or a career, the traditional stats do normalize. The best pitchers have the most wins, the best hitters have the highest batting average and Derek Jeter has the most gold gloves /ducks :)
You know what grinds my gears? "Ace vs Ace"
If there is anyone still reading after that, I’ll get to the next thing that for some random reason has always bothered me. I’m not sure how many times this will come up on today’s telecast, and I’m not sure when I’ll actually get a chance to post this, but it was written Wednesday morning, before Ricky Romero faces James Shields. Inevitably, Buck and Pat will say how amazing Ricky’s 5-1 record is because he goes up against the other teams #1 pitcher every time. Huh? I’d wager Ricky faces other teams #3 or #4 starter just as much as #1’s over the course of an entire season. Teams all have different schedules, teams have rain outs, some teams skip their 5th starter, and some teams have double headers. I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but it’s so ridiculous to think aces face aces every time they are up. Kind of ironic that it’s the case today, but I’d argue it’s the exception, rather than the rule.
You know what grinds my gears? How Closers are used.
By my quick calculation, there have been 23908423 blown saves this year and I think it is all because of managers and GM’s insistence on using "proven closers" in traditional save situations, regardless of the circumstance. Here is what I’d do if I was running a baseball team. I’d groom my starter starting in A or AA ball. I often hear that converting a pitcher into a closer is a waste of a good arm. Look, I’m not saying the Nationals should convert Stephen Strasburg into the closer, I’m just saying take a look at your system, find a young kid who is good at missing bats and attacks the strikezone (both qualities I think we all have in a closer), and groom him to be your closer. To me this makes way more sense than throwing a gazillion dollars at Heath Bell or Jon Papelbon. If he turns out to be an uber stud and hits the open market and someone else wants to throw a gazillion dollars at him, do it again. I personally would love to see Dustin McGowan fill this roll, or a guy like Ardolis Chapman. I’m sure using WAR, you can say it’s a waste as the best closer in the world isn’t worth as many wins as a marginal starter, but I don’t think you can quantify what endless blown saves does to a teams psyche. Just because you can’t quantify a team’s psyche, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
I’d also like to see them used in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning depending on the situation. I’m not sure why we feel the need to only use the closer in the 9th regardless of situation, I blame the "save" stat. In many occasions we use lessor pitchers in the 8th inning against the middle of the order, and our closer in the 9th vs. the bottom of the order, just because that’s what the "book" says. Let’s save "the book" for the blackjack table.
You know what grinds my gears? Constant walks and errors.
Ugh. Nothing grinds my gears more than watching recent Ricky Romero or Kyle Drabek starts. Walk-walk-walk-walk-walk-walk. I’m not proposing anything and I don’t know enough about a pitchers mechanics to know what is going wrong with these young guys, so I’ll just sit my ass on my couch, eat Doritos, drink beer and yell obscenities at my TV.
Then there are the errors. I’m sure there is some stat out there stating the Jays team defense isn’t that bad and that they save as many runs playing good defense as they give up, and that’s all well and good. I’m not here to say the Jays are or are not good defensively. I’m just saying I’d much rather get the snot kicked out of us 13-0 with hard hit balls all over the yard then to sit 4 hours through a game and have us walk 6 guys and kick the ball all over the yard. This is a big reason Edwin Encarnacion was on my sh*t list for so long. It’s hard enough getting 3 outs, without giving them 4 out innings several times a game.
You know what grinds my gears? Hockey
Seriously SportsNet? You have 22 minutes of Jays pregame which should be enough time to tell a feel good story or two, talk about the starting pitchers, talk about the matchups, maybe do a quick recap of yesterdays matchup. Should be enough time right?
Nope, let’s squeeze 10 minutes of hockey ramble. Look, no one watches Jays Central to get hockey analysis! If they want hockey analysis 24/7, they can watch TSN or catch highlights on the Score. Contrary to popular believe, not all Canadians are passionate hockey fans, or hell, even like hockey. The only time I watch hockey is during the Olympics or maybe World Juniors. It’s bad enough after Monday Night Football (Football is my first love) that the 0:00 isn’t on the clock yet, that they are flipping it to Sports Centre to catch some riveting Coyotes-Panthers highlight from week 2 of the NHL Season. You jerk us around with Memorial Cup BS so I have to pay extra for all the RSN channels and then force feel us hockey analysis during a baseball pregame. Knock it off.
So there. I got it all off my chest and it feels good. I’m hoping I didn’t offend anyone who feels contrary, just wanted to state my opinion. Just as I type this, I see my boy Eddie Bats went yard to tie up the game 4-4...atta boy Edwin.