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.