Another "lazy, mindless response" to the persistent baseball argument by Dr. Commento, a.k.a. Uncle Manny.
Numbers tell you exactly what you want them to.
Numbers are 100% an accumulation and averaging of handpicked chosen hindsights. You cannot predict the future with certainty based on numbers of the past. You can't count something as fact until it has happened. Even then, you only count what you deem as important.
Numbers are THE PAST. Not the present.
Numbers give a representation of the truth. They are not the whole truth. I can show you a picture of the Pacific Ocean. It's not the same as putting your head in it. It's not the same as bobbing helplessly with the billions of pieces of plastic in the middle of it. It's not the same as sinking to the bottom of it. Numbers are a snapshot.
If stats mattered as much as some of you statheads think they do, they wouldn't need to "play the game on grass instead of a calculator" would they?
All factors in baseball numbers are weighted the same when it's clear not all factors are the same. Hell, a guy can FEEL differently (health, confidence, concentration, clarity, comfort, etc. on and on) from one at bat to the next... or more ACCURATELY - one PITCH to the next! This is true about the pitcher, the managers, umpires, every person in the stadium... from the ball to the bat to a moth that flies into the outfielder's ear. There's the wind, the light, seasons, magnetic resonance of the poles, voodoo, black magic and santaria. There is no absolute way to account for variables in the accumulation of baseball's numbers.
How do you measure and account for that - logically - in your compiled assumptions... I mean compiled digits? How do you measure possibilities for the present and/or future by looking at the past? How can you value a player while discounting the hundreds of thousands or even MILLIONS of variables and say every player's numbers correlate?
It's easy to paint the picture you want to see when you get to choose the colors.
Reality is... not a choice.
But the numbers are often right! Right?
And the sun shines directly on a dog's ass if he wags his tail hard enough.
Heh... ask any manager - guessing by numbers works sometimes, and other times it don't mean jack. Look at just about EVERY single World Series winning team since 2001 (ESPECIALLY every logic defying move Bob Brenly made in 2001)... they ALL defied "assumed logic", a.k.a. "The Numbers" somewhere on their path to a title.
The world does NOT work according to the numbers. Otherwise the Yankees wouldn't lose games 4,5,6 and 7 of the 2004 ALCS and the Red Sox, Angels, Phillies and White Sox would still be cursed. Steve Bartman would still be a Cubs fan.
Let me sum it up like this - only one statistic means something in the REAL world - Wins and Losses.
Baseball has changed so much and yet stayed exactly the same
Strategies evolve. Rules are updated and altered. New schools of thought enter the collective consciousness.
The way statheads look at the game today and apply their logic to players of the past is laughable. They look at numbers players are TRYING to accumulate today and comparing them to players who simply played to win years ago. Maybe Babe Ruth would be on his way to becoming the best closer in history and all-time saves leader if he broke into the game today. More likely, he'd be a lefty specialist reliever. Ted Williams would have taken more walks if he wasn't such a greedy bastard trying to get every hit he could. Ty Cobb too. No doubt, they all would have struck out more than they did because - according to statheads - the game is more intelligent now than it was in the past, thanks to those numbers showing us how important numbers are...
OBP - statheads will tell you base runners are important. Well, yeah... but they aren't everything. Plenty of games have been won by ONE baserunner. More games have been lost with lots of runners left on base. OBP doesn't measure productive outs or smart baserunning.
- Trivia Alert***
A pitcher can throw 162 IP in a season without throwing a single pitch to the catcher; never allowing a hit, run or error. Does that mean he's unhittable? The stats say so... How?
Ever heard of a GWRBI? It was considered a useful evaluation tool in the 80's. It was also a load of crap. Much like today's save rule has become crap because of nuances and subtle changes in the way the game is played.
Guess what? There's another new, wonderful stat coming around the corner and another one after that and on and on. But the game is still won and lost the same way.
Sure, statistics made baseball easier for video game players to create their wares. Statistics make an agent's job easier come arbitration hearing day. Statistics lend plenty of fuel to feed meaningless arguments in the blogosphere.
But as Mark Twain famously said well over 100 years ago. "There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics."
Use the Numbers, but triangulate your information.
Common sense can't be measured. One glance at Mark McGwire circa 1998 in an MLB uniform and even a child can surmise "This is a guy with some power". No one needed to look at the back of his baseball card to verify that. One buzz of a Nolan Ryan fastball in the dirt circa 1973 followed by one just as noisy up around your chin gives you an idea that it might be hard to get a hit that day. Extreme examples for sure, but you get the point.
Numbers can fool the eye but talent can be recognized VERY quickly by the experienced, trained eye. Ask the first casting director who got a peek at Halle Berry.
Reality creates numbers. Reality also skews numbers before they get a chance to be skewed by statisticians
I'm not saying stats are useless. Things like OBP shows us which guys try harder to be successful at getting on base more often. It doesn't show us who really is the most successful under exact same variables and lead us to be able to rank players accordingly. Then again, OBP doesn't win baseball games by itself. OBP doesn't play defense and doesn't run bases. I'll take a guy who can go first to third or break up a double play than a guy who gets to first more often and no further - every time.
Statistics don't account for instincts, physical abilities or the ability to be as unpredictable as a human being (as most baseball players seem to be).
If statistics meant everything, How do we judge a player before they accumulate a number? How do we assume those numbers are accumulated equally? What about guys who sacrifice their statistics by playing through pain or falter with the stress of 162 games, travel and life in general? What about cheaters? What about guys who get "lucky"???
Who has the most career Texas Leaguers? Who reached first on blown umpire calls the most in June 2007? Which pitcher gets balls called as strikes to batters who are taking pitches? Who has the highest OPS during a Full Moon?
Don't weigh everything and expect to find a clean cut answer, Math-heads. The world - like the matter in your egg-shaped heads - is full of gray; especially when you want - so badly - for it to all be black and white.
Math is addictive and it can ruin your life!
Number yourself all you want. Just remember, dear Statheads, you can't spell numbers without NUMB.