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A critique of WAR

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No, not war. WAR. As in, Wins Above Replacement level.  Hippeaux at IIATMS has a lengthy column up today looking at the stat (it’s actually multiple stats complied via different methodologies by different folks) and pointing out a potential flaw. Specifically, that one of its components — the defensive metric, Ultimate Zone Rating or UZR — that Hippeaux argues distorts WAR.

I am quite obviously not a stats guy, so I can’t say that I have any real insight here. I’m mostly waiting to watch the arguments and counterarguments to the piece, which is how most folks who don’t have their own aptitude with this stuff should probably proceed. Over time you get some clarity as to whether the critique makes sense, if the counterarguments make sense, etc., and then eventually you get something approaching an advancement in real knowledge.  Kind of like science, you know.

But this article is getting a lot of play this morning, pro and con, so it’s worth throwing out there.

One warning: I’ve already seen a couple of decidedly non-statty writers link to this thing and say something to the effect of “see, those holier-than-thou stats types don’t know WHAT they’re talking about.”  To those people I offer a hearty “shove it.”  A critique of a component of an analytical tool does not constitute a repudiation of the analytical tool any more than a faulty component in your engine constitutes a totaled car.  If it makes you feel better to say “see, those statheads aren’t God,” so be it. But do know that the statheads have never been interested in being God. They just want to understand stuff, and this sort of intellectual give and take is how that occurs.

A-Rod to host a reality show featuring broke ex-athletes

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees answers question in a press conference after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Alex Rodriguez’s transition into retirement has featured a serious move into the business world. He has gone back to school, worked seriously on investments and has started his own corporation. Yes, he’s set for life after making more money than any baseball player in history, but even if his bank account wasn’t fat, you get the sense that he’d be OK given what we’ve seen of his work ethic and savvy in recent years.

He’s going to be getting another paycheck soon, though. For hosting a reality show featuring athletes who are not in as good a financial shape as A-Rod is:

Interesting. Hopefully, like so many other reality shows featuring the formerly rich and famous, this one is not exploitative. Not gonna hold my breath because that’s what that genre is all about, unfortunately, but here’s hoping A-Rod can help some folks with this.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.