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I Seek to Understand Me

Quick diversion from the draft just for a moment.  Craig made this point in a comment in a thread earlier today and I think it's important enough to talk about some more, not because it is wrong -- in fact, I think it gets to an important point   Here's his post:

Oh my god when will people quit sh*tting on people with advanced stats.


Honestly, it makes BBB less enjoyable. (This isn’t directed at you benk per se)

Every day, every post, someone makes a comment that "Player ‘x’ is doing well or player ‘y’ is struggling, and someone has to jump down their throat quoting their xFIP or some other stat that they read on Fangraphs. Well take it over to Fangraphs. I get the advances baseball stats but not to the extent that it’s taking over baseball discussions. At some point we don’t even need to watch the games, just read about it in the boxscores.

"Oh, Corey Patteron went 5/5 today, he played well" – Commenter #1
"OH MY GOD, NO HE DIDN’T, HE SUCKS BECAUSE HIS LD% WAS 12.3454234%" – Commenter #2

It’s getting a little tiresome especially when it’s cloaked with an air of "if you look at batting average for hitters or wins per for pitchers, you are an idiot".

An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than for illumination


The problem with this line of reasoning is that then when someone makes an argument using statistics, Craig would have to commit to doing them the same courtesy and not arguing back based on his first-hand observations.  Neither one of those is reasonable and it isn't acceptable for either to be condescending.  I admit I have less patience for people who are condescending to sabermetrics, because, well, they're just more wrong (j/k!), but everyone needs to be able to express their viewpoint without acting as though the other has nothing important to say.  There was a time when folks inclined to sabermetrics were a small minority on the site and bore the brunt of the abuse; now it's about 50/50 or so.  

See, the great thing about baseball is everyone can enjoy it in their own way. The most fun I've had watching baseball was when I knew absolutely nothing about advanced stats.  At the same time, my scientist's brain always needs to understand as much about everything as possible and has driven me to better understand the nuances of the game I have always loved.  

Some people can watch every game, never know a stat beyond those that pop up on the tv screen, and love it.  My mom's brothers are some of the biggest baseball fans I have ever known, and they think Derek Jeter deserved every one of his gold gloves.  Another fan can be the hardest-core sabermetrician and elevate stats over first-hand reports every time. Neither has a monopoly on truth. Sometimes the old-school fan is right, other times it is the sabermetrics guy/gal.  I'd expect the sabermetrician to be right somewhat more often only because he is more willing to seek truth wherever it exists and not worry if it doesn't correspond to his preconceived notions, but my biases aren't important here.  And of course very few fans are at either pole - most, particularly here, are somewhere in the middle.

Even more important than being right or wrong about a specific argument, there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy the game. Baseball is great because it allows for people to experience it in completely different ways. If we haven’t done the best job of making sure that the sabermetrically inclined don’t belittle others, that’s on us. But we’re not going to condone them being told to shut up or not to argue their points either. If baseball is big enough for old school fans and sabermetricians, so is B^3.  Or, more succinctly:  Just another crowd. We need a gathering instead.


Title from "I am a Scientist" by Guided by Voices