Max Scherzer is a stathead. Cool.

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I’m not a statistics guy myself — math is hard, yo — but I’ve long considered myself a fellow traveler in much the same way that guys like Timothy Leary and Wavy Gravy hung around a lot of rock bands in the 60s without making any music.  I’m totally down with the statheads even if I can’t do a thing that they do.

So I’m pleased to read that Max Scherzer — one of my favorite pitchers simply because he strikes out a ton of dudes yet doesn’t seem like a fascist — is a big stats geek.  No, he’s not redefining the field or anything, but as a pitcher he’s really aware of the advanced metrics and has, to some extent, used them to refine his game.

Sure, he has struggled until recently and got sent down to Toledo, but that’s about talent — command is a talent, by the way, not an intellectual exercise — but any time I read about ballplayers who look at the advanced stats, I see a guy who seems genuinely interested in wanting to improve his game, and you have to dig that.

UPDATE:  We write a lot of damn posts here at HBT. So many that I didn’t remember the fact that Aaron gave statty props to Scherzer just last August before writing this.

Crap. I shouldn’t have admitted that. If I had gone all day without anyone else reminding me that this is basically a repeat, I could save myself a lot of work in 2011 just writing what I’ve written in 2010.  Of course, maybe by then people won’t remember this post admitting that either . . .

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.