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Does Anyone Else Here Think Sabermetrics is a Sham?

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  • And by the way, it is far beneath you to start linking SABR dissent to al Qaeda apologetics. That's what politicians do. Republicans tell everyone that will listen (other Republicans) that Democrats hate America and just want to give terrorists a hug. Democrats tell everyone that will listen (Democrats, and foreigners) that Republicans are hell-bent war-mongers who hate the environment, and their agenda is either money, or hastening the arrival of Judgment Day. I think we should be above that.

    In short, a lack of complete objectivism does not equal moral relativism, and even if it did, there is a long step between that and terrorism.

    As I said, the issue is not whether or not truth exists, but how we know it. Calling something "objective" doesn't make it so. There are value judgements in any stat - that's a function of linguistics. Numbers don't denote objectivity. For numbers to have linguistic meaning, they must be interpreted. For them to be meaningfully interpreted, the interpreter must operate in an established value system. And operating in a value system is subjective.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Twinskoop
      Eloquent, Matt. But far removed from any point that anyone was making.

      The point I made long ago was that baseball is a game - and a fluid one, decided by officials who create the rules, managers who devise game plans, and players who execute them. It is not a constant to be discovered. It is not plate tectonics, it is not meteorology. There are things (truths) to be discovered within the specifics of the game (physics addresses much) - no one disputes this. Stat analysis can also address a lot of specifics. I have no problem understanding or using principles of stat analysis when thinking and talking about the game I love. But as I've said repeatedly, there is more than one way to win a baseball game. There is also more than one way to understand a player's value to a team. I reject any system of thought that tends to lead us toward thinking of this game in terms of a constant.
      Actually...there are enormous similarities between baseball and meteorology...the major difference is that baseball is significantly more SIMPLE despite the human factor...but offsetting that is the fact that we have better data to analyze the weather and the science of meteorology has had a lot more time to advance.

      The atmosphere is infinite in its' random variations...fluid...driven by chaos and even probability. So is the behavior of the human race...including when they play games. The nice thing about games is that the rules are essentially constant and events are usually discrete and inherently easy to record and diagram both logically and empirically.

      Please don't think I'm overlooking the human side of the game...because I'm not. No sabermetrician will ever be able to predict with absolute certainty who will win what division and by how many games or who will win the next MVP award or which rookies will stick...that's not now nor has it ever been nor will it ever be or mission statement. It's about maximizing probability for success...and we still have a very long way to go before we've exhausted the scientific avenues for advancing baseball research and understanding.

      There is nothing "subjective" about that statement. We know an awful lot about probability theory and baseball data behaves very well in the confines of real statistical analysis...that's science...that's not agenda as some of you have suggested...and it's CERTAINLY not a pretense for upholding some status quo or for obscuring the true value of the game and its' players.

      As for it being "beneath" me to link moral relativism with logical relativism...I'll leave that in the opinion of the people reading this thread...relativism...in ALL its' forms...is extremely dangerous to the betterment of our understanding of the world and our quality of life. In science...it curtails progress in favor of confusion and ignorance...in society, it creates a sense that there is no moral truth and therefore that nothing anyone does can be wrong...in discourse it ends debates before they have a chance to flower...how do you argue with someone when they tell you there is no truth and no such thing as the scientific method? How can we have an honest discussion about all things baseball when a certain element here considers it a LIE (that word has been used many times in this thread) to think of the game scientifically?

      I respect the human element...I believe there is a limit to what sabermetricians can learn about the game (I don't believe we've come anywhere close to that limit yet...we're just starting!)...but a significant portion of the other posters here think everything I do is a personally otivated lie...there can be no debate until there is mutual respect and an honest effort by BOTH sides to really learn about the position of the other side...I've spent long weeks and months talking with Bill_Burgess about the finer points of his subjective (and extremely well researched) analysis of the 19th century...most of my opponants here have probably never taken the time to really discuss sasbermetric theory with ANY sabermetrician or serious student of the field.

      Comment


      • Originally Posted by SABR Matt
        Calling objectivism "a pretense" is the definition of a relativistic world view. There's nothing false about gravity...there's nothing false about Newtonian physics (aside from their limitations at extreme speeds and energies...but correctly applied to mundane situations they work for a reason)...there's nothing false about probability theory...it's scientific FACT...so is calculus...so is algebra...so is the field of plate techtonics...


        I just fell in love with Matt all over again. Truth is in fact truth. Novel concept.

        Comment


        • Sabermetrics is good for those who want to spend there time with it. However, whats wrong with batting average, hits, home runs, RBI's, wins, losses, ERA, errors, fielding percentage ect? These tells us what we need to know about the game. Someone can have all the win shares, VORP, WARP3, collapse rate and all of that that he wants, i don't care. The actual statistics are what a player does, not some formula. Those real stats are what will always dictate to me who is a better player than someone else.
          "As I grew up, I knew that as a building (Fenway Park) was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation's capitol, the czar's Winter Palace, and the Louvre — except, of course, that is better than all those inconsequential places." - Bart Giamatti

          You go through The Sporting News of the last 100 years and you will find two things are always true. You never have enough pitchers, and nobody ever made money.
          -Don Fehr

          Comment


          • The problem with the traditional statistics you just listed is that all of them are, to one degree or another dependent on contexts like the ballparks, the league, the teammates, the strength of schedule, and the situation in which they occured during a game...and until we can apply some statistical reasoning to those numbers in an effort to filter out those biasing contextual effects...they're going to be poor tools for seeing who the better players are.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by YOUgodofwalks
              Sabermetrics is good for those who want to spend there time with it. However, whats wrong with batting average, hits, home runs, RBI's, wins, losses, ERA, errors, fielding percentage ect? These tells us what we need to know about the game. Someone can have all the win shares, VORP, WARP3, collapse rate and all of that that he wants, i don't care. The actual statistics are what a player does, not some formula. Those real stats are what will always dictate to me who is a better player than someone else.
              What's wrong with it, simply put, is we'd be forced to conclude all the best hitters played in the 1920s and 1930s, and all the best pitchers played in the 1960s. I think we know intuitively that's not the case, because it's easier to pitch with a tall mound, wide strikezone, and the right to plunk batters with impunity, rather than what pitchers are forced to deal with today. This is a real phenomenon, not something dreamed up in a laboratory. We can either throw our hands up and say there's nothing we can do about it, or we can think about it and do something about it.
              Last edited by iPod; 11-17-2005, 02:45 AM.
              "Hall of Famer Whitey Ford now on the field... pleading with the crowd for, for some kind of sanity!"

              Comment


              • Originally posted by iPod
                What's wrong with it, simply put, is we'd be forced to conclude all the best hitters played in the 1920s and 1930s, and all the best pitchers played in the 1960s. I think we know intuitively that's not the case, because it's easier to pitch with a tall mound, wide strikezone, and the right to plunk batters with impunity, rather than what pitchers are forced to deal with today. This is a real phenomenon, not something dreamed up in a laboratory. We can either throw our hands up and say there's nothing we can do about it, or we can think about it and do something about it.
                1) people are not forced to conclude anything
                2) there is not full acceptance on bbf much less society as a whole for all these total player evaluations - and yet people still don't consistently indentify the best hitters from the 1920s-30s or pitchers from the 1960s - as you mentioned - people already note that "it's easier to pitch with a tall mound, wide strikezone, and the right to plunk batters with impunity" - they have realized for decades that and numerous other variances in the games from era to era and they really didn't need an elaborate formula for it
                3) from my perusal of all the best lists it is obvious that everyone views things subjectively -- no matter what one says or whatever calculations are thrown in the mix, most simply will not bump certain individuals from a list

                the story of the game is just that - a story - numbers are there to enhance it, to perhaps show us another way of looking at something - the numbers, though, do not stand by themselves - they are not the end of a story just a footnote to the story

                i love numbers - have an economics degree - evaluate, argue, adjust and re-evaluate and re-adjust all you want with your collegues - but when you speak to the group as a whole, back way off the numbers and focus on the narrative, touch on the mathematical evaluations and why they are useful and present the numbers in a clear, concise fashion but don't force-feed them -- it's like arguing with your teenager - the more you push - the harder they push back - at a certain point you will be ignored and apathy will creep in

                Comment


                • Originally posted by bkmckenna
                  1) people are not forced to conclude anything
                  2) there is not full acceptance on bbf much less society as a whole for all these total player evaluations - and yet people still don't consistently indentify the best hitters from the 1920s-30s or pitchers from the 1960s - as you mentioned - people already note that "it's easier to pitch with a tall mound, wide strikezone, and the right to plunk batters with impunity" - they have realized for decades that and numerous other variances in the games from era to era and they really didn't need an elaborate formula for it
                  3) from my perusal of all the best lists it is obvious that everyone views things subjectively -- no matter what one says or whatever calculations are thrown in the mix, most simply will not bump certain individuals from a list

                  the story of the game is just that - a story - numbers are there to enhance it, to perhaps show us another way of looking at something - the numbers, though, do not stand by themselves - they are not the end of a story just a footnote to the story

                  i love numbers - have an economics degree - evaluate, argue, adjust and re-evaluate and re-adjust all you want with your collegues - but when you speak to the group as a whole, back way off the numbers and focus on the narrative, touch on the mathematical evaluations and why they are useful and present the numbers in a clear, concise fashion but don't force-feed them -- it's like arguing with your teenager - the more you push - the harder they push back - at a certain point you will be ignored and apathy will creep in
                  Advanced metrics are attempts to quantify things like "It's easier to pitch in the 1960s." We all agree on that. But how much better? Without some attempt to quantify it, it's total guesswork. Guesswork's OK, I guess, if you're not particularly interested in getting the answer all the way right, but that's all advanced numbers try to do. Quantify questions like that, and properly adjust for them. That's it.

                  When debating exactly how good a player was, of course that discussion would revolve around numbers. "Focusing on the narrative" is, what, exactly, in a discussion about how good a player is? A story about how powerful a hitter was? OK, that's good I guess, but we already can get a pretty good idea of the kind of hitter he was by looking at his numbers.

                  If you mean "focusing on the narrative" like, "Klu only started hitting home runs when the Reds pulled their fences in," or something like that, then that is definitely relevant, and something I would agree with.
                  Last edited by iPod; 11-17-2005, 08:54 PM.
                  "Hall of Famer Whitey Ford now on the field... pleading with the crowd for, for some kind of sanity!"

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by iPod
                    Advanced metrics are attempts to quantify things like "It's easier to pitch in the 1960s." We all agree on that. But how much better? Without some attempt to quantify it, it's total guesswork. Guesswork's OK, I guess, if you're not particularly interested in getting the answer all the way right, but that's all advanced numbers try to do. Quantify questions like that, and properly adjust for them. That's it.

                    When debating exactly how good a player was, of course that discussion would revolve around numbers. "Focusing on the narrative" is, what, exactly, in a discussion about how good a player is? A story about how powerful a hitter was? OK, that's good I guess, but we already can get a pretty good idea of the kind of hitter he was by looking at his numbers.

                    If you mean "focusing on the narrative" like, "Klu only started hitting home runs when the Reds pulled their fences in," or something like that, then that is definitely relevant, and something I would agree with.
                    i'm with you - believe me i am - there is value in park adjustments, eras, etc. - please get it "all the way right" - i'm interested - i guess my problem lies in the whose better/whose best debates which at the core are really meaningless, hold little intellectual appeal for me and, in the end, advance no one's understanding of the game -- i guess to some it is fun - it's a game within the game - hell, i respect that - it can only build affection for the game

                    the numbers are great - don't get me wrong - i think they often get improperly used when it comes down to debating

                    thanks for the discussion ipod
                    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 11-18-2005, 08:41 AM.

                    Comment


                    • Au contraire.

                      Answering the question of "who was better" doesn't have a lot of intellectual appeal all by itself aside from for us curious types who like to rank and categorize...but knowing exactly how and why games were won throughout major league history...who created the wins and how such things could be duplicated in the future is of the UTMOST intellectual significance.

                      Any sabermetrician who does not see the value in taking all of those statistics from the past, putting them on a proper, flat playing field, and using the mountains of data we have from eras gone by to make more accurate predictions about what's going on now and in the next few years shouldn't call himself a sabermetrician.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by SABR Matt
                        Actually...there are enormous similarities between baseball and meteorology...the major difference is that baseball is significantly more SIMPLE despite the human factor...but offsetting that is the fact that we have better data to analyze the weather and the science of meteorology has had a lot more time to advance.
                        This here sums it up; and you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Baseball has absolutely nothing in common with meteorology. Simply put, baseball is about throwing, running, catching and hitting, etc. Ask any child who has ever played on the street, sandlot, or diamond. Don't lose site of the essence of the game. You're getting so involved in statistics that you're losing site of what baseball really is.

                        Do you even have any idea how to really play the game? The mechanics of a swing? Of a pitch? How to condition yourself? Proper running mechanics? Special exercises and drills? Hand positions, etc, etc? Have you ever experienced the joy of making a diving catch, or getting a game winning hit? If you did, then you could never compare such a wonderful institution as baseball to meteorology.

                        Sir, it appears to me that you cannot separate the game from the recording of the game. Your statistics may very well have a lot in common with meteorology. But baseball...it's much better than that, aand much more than that. It's about pitting yourself against your opponent. About rallying your teammates to play at their highest level. About taking direction and coaching. About reaching your potential. It's about getting off your rump and actually doing physical things to make improvements. And NO baseball player needs a sabermetrician to tell him when he needs improvement.

                        Keep studying your stats and contributing to the baseball world in your own way. But never reduce baseball to pen and paper, or a computer printout.

                        I apologize for any hostile tone. That's not my intent.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by northside
                          This here sums it up; and you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Baseball has absolutely nothing in common with meteorology. Simply put, baseball is about throwing, running, catching and hitting, etc. Ask any child who has ever played on the street, sandlot, or diamond. Don't lose site of the essence of the game. You're getting so involved in statistics that you're losing site of what baseball really is.

                          Do you even have any idea how to really play the game? The mechanics of a swing? Of a pitch? How to condition yourself? Proper running mechanics? Special exercises and drills? Hand positions, etc, etc? Have you ever experienced the joy of making a diving catch, or getting a game winning hit? If you did, then you could never compare such a wonderful institution as baseball to meteorology.

                          Sir, it appears to me that you cannot separate the game from the recording of the game. Your statistics may very well have a lot in common with meteorology. But baseball...it's much better than that, aand much more than that. It's about pitting yourself against your opponent. About rallying your teammates to play at their highest level. About taking direction and coaching. About reaching your potential. It's about getting off your rump and actually doing physical things to make improvements. And NO baseball player needs a sabermetrician to tell him when he needs improvement.

                          Keep studying your stats and contributing to the baseball world in your own way. But never reduce baseball to pen and paper, or a computer printout.

                          I apologize for any hostile tone. That's not my intent.
                          Well, If Matt was a CFer for the Indians, then maybe you have a case. You act like you just told us what baseball was, like we didn't already know. Thanks for the life lesson, we didnt know you had to throw and catch a ball. You are talking about PLAYING baseball, and if you want to continue i'd advise you to move to one of the other forums on this site. This is about analyzing baseball, no one here is giving Curt Schilling pitching tips. This is more about finding value in players, more than just the junk stats that are spit out by ESPN and the triple crown. If you to become a GM, and want to ignore everything except for catching, throwing and hitting a ball, when contemporaries have more advanced things to look at, then you will fail miserably. No one here is coaching, or telling people what baseball is... its called analyzing, and maybe you would be better fit to be a little league coach, and not a General Manager.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by EvanAparra
                            Well, If Matt was a CFer for the Indians, then maybe you have a case. You act like you just told us what baseball was, like we didn't already know. Thanks for the life lesson, we didnt know you had to throw and catch a ball. You are talking about PLAYING baseball, and if you want to continue i'd advise you to move to one of the other forums on this site. This is about analyzing baseball, no one here is giving Curt Schilling pitching tips. This is more about finding value in players, more than just the junk stats that are spit out by ESPN and the triple crown. If you to become a GM, and want to ignore everything except for catching, throwing and hitting a ball, when contemporaries have more advanced things to look at, then you will fail miserably. No one here is coaching, or telling people what baseball is... its called analyzing, and maybe you would be better fit to be a little league coach, and not a General Manager.
                            So there are "enormous similarities between baseball and meteorology"
                            huh? You're a funny man.

                            Comment


                            • Haha, im trying to find where i wrote that....hmm...NOPE, cant find it.
                              Or where I agreed with it.... NOPE cant find that either.

                              Also, when Matt says that, he's talking about the DATA that comes from it, not the game itself, dont take things out of context. And get who your quotes are coming from right.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by northside
                                So there are "enormous similarities between baseball and meteorology"
                                huh? You're a funny man.
                                He wasn't saying there are enormous similarites between playing baseball and meteorology, just that there are similarities in how you can analyze and study baseball and meteorology. You seem to have completely misunderstood Matt's point. It had nothing to do with how to play the game, just about analyzing and studying it.

                                Comment

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