Marx Lennon

Thoughts on dictating the Sabermetric Agenda

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Some more stuff spinning out of Brian Kenny’s crusade to Kill The Win. This from Mike Bates at SB Nation, who you may know better as The Common Man. Mike is clearly in the camp of the statistical analysts and views baseball from a sabermetric perspective. That said, he’s not on board with Kenny’s crusade. Indeed, he argues today that, while it’s wonderful if someone chooses to get into the stats stuff, it’s silly and harmful to force it upon people like his grandma. I find myself in basic agreement with him.

My thing on stats: no fan should be expected to care about sabermetrics or to even familiarize themselves with it just to enjoy baseball. I spent 20 years watching baseball before I had even heard of sabermetrics and I somehow managed to love the hell out of it. I presume most of you all did too.  Of course, getting into sabermetrics enriched my experience as a baseball fan and I’m oh so glad it did. I also think that sabermetrics will enrich most fans’ experiences in that, as in all things, information tends to make people happier. But I’m not going to force it down anyone’s throat and I don’t think anyone else should either.

There are two important caveats to all of this, of course:

1. While you can be a fan and ignore statistical analysis and what it reveals all you want, you don’t have the same excuse if you work in baseball or analyze it for a living. Scouts, GMs, and professional writers who make it their business to explain the game to people — and especially those whose job it is to hand out awards and Hall of Fame votes — have a duty to understand more deeply than a common fan. They can no sooner ignore this stuff than a doctor can ignore a new procedure or a pilot can ignore a weather report. When Brian Kenny attacks your grandma for thinking pitcher wins matter, he’s out of line. When he goes after broadcasters and analysts who do so, he’s doing God’s work; and

2. If you are a common fan who doesn’t care much for statistical analysis, but you decide you want to argue about player value and things that can be derived from statistical analysis with someone who is conversant with it, don’t sit there and complain about the person citing advanced metrics to make their case. The person doing the citing certainly does not have the right to be an obnoxious ass about it, but they shouldn’t be expected to ignore basic information just because you choose to ignore it. And if you really want to understand something better — as opposed to merely wanting to be an ass in an argument yourself — you’ll maybe think about using some of the tools to do so. Like stats.

That stuff aside? Man, enjoy the game all you want. Laud the 20-game winners and the .300 hitters and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re obligated to shovel a glimpse into the ditch of what those stats mean.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.