Leyland on the lineup change:”It certainly can’t hurt. We’re going to take a shot…A little something to churn up the butter a little bit.”
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 16, 2013
Back about 45 years ago when I decided to start this blog, I thought I’d be this awesome stats guy. I’d like, totally use WAR and wRC+ and LD% or whatever and tell people who was good at baseball and who wasn’t. I’d analyze trades by dollar-per-win and illuminate the ignorant masses as to how a baseball team is properly run.
It turns out that shit is really hard. And complicated! The more I learn and know about advanced metrics, the more I realize how large the gap is between my feeble brain and the minds of the smart people who can actually write those types of articles well and with regularity. It’s sort of like just about everything I’ve tried to be good at/know about in life. Smart enough to be better than average, smart enough to know I’ll never reach the top. The good news is that the Internet can’t get enough smart baseball analysis, something I’ve decided I have no interest in attempting. My wife was telling me last night about how I’m a pessimist. What does she know?
All this is to say that the joke’s on me, because I wrote a blog post that uses some statistics. They’re pretty easy ones, and I probably abused the hell out of them, but the words have been written and the post has been published so there’s no looking back now. When in doubt, just write whatever you want and pray you’re not 100% wrong.
Caring about Silver Sluggers and Golden Gloves is stupid. Every year, these awards are announced and there are a lot of bad choices and nerds get all mad and it becomes more and more apparent that the managers and coaches that vote for these things really don’t know what they’re talking about and/or are really susceptible victims to popular narratives. It’s ironic, I guess. So now that we’ve established that caring about these awards is stupid and it’s a total waste of time to worry one little bit about them, allow me to highlight one particular instance of bad voting.
Really, for the most part it seems like they kind of got this Silver Slugger stuff mostly right. You could quibble and make arguments for Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina, Lance Berkman*, Jhonny Peralta (honestly what kind of spelling is that), and maybe even Dustin Pedroia—but let’s not freak out about any of those and save our soon-to-be misplaced energy for this one: Adrian Gonzales over Miguel Cabrera. Allow me to put on my math visor and really dig deep for some super intense and in-depth statistical anlysis:
Adrian Gonzales: .338 / .410 / .548
Miguel Cabrera: .344 / .448 / .586
Adrian Gonzales: .406 wOBA, .210 ISO, 153 wRC+
Miguel Cabrera: .436 wOBA, .241 ISO, 177 wRC+
Adrian Gonzales: 27 HR, 108 Runs, 117 RBI
Miguel Cabrera: 30 HR, 111 Runs, 105 RBI
I hope you were able to keep up with all that complicated stuff. I almost confused myself there for a second. In no traditional, sabermetric, or other traditional sense did Gonzales hit better than Cabrera, and that’s fucking nuts, because Adrian Gonzales had a legitimately great year at the plate. Miguel Cabrera is just kind of a complete and total monster, is all. And he got robbed, in the to deprive of something due, expected, or desired and to withhold unjustly or injuriously sense of the word.
As astounding as this may be, it probably came down to the RBI’s and the narrative of all that mythic Bostonian pressure. One of these guys played in the intense heat of a national pressure cooker and had two MVP candidates getting on base ahead of him all season, the other one didn’t. The coaches and managers assigned to voting for this award did a quick Google search, looked at which guy produced the most runs by mashing in the most taters in the most scariest of all possible places, and filled out their sheets. So that’s cool.
*Actually, you could probably make a really good and similar argument using the same complicated process as employed above. But it’s way too late for that now, isn’t it?
I root for the Seattle Mariners and have done so all of my life. As such, I guess I’m supposed to dislike the Texas Rangers. They’re division rivals, competing directly with the M’s for wins. If the Rangers make the post-season, it more likely than not means the Mariners didn’t. The better they do in the post-season, the more money they make, the more money they make, the more they can spend on really good players who will then dominate the Mariners for years and years to come. There are a lot of really good reasons why I shouldn’t want the team to succeed. And yet, in this particular season, against these particular Detroit Tigers, I can’t seem to muster up any hate for the Texas Rangers. I actually wouldn’t mind if they won this evening, or tomorrow night, and advanced to the World Series. It’s weird. Also terrible. Weird and terrible.