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.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.