Great Moments in completely missing the point

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Here’s an Op-Ed railing against the Wins Above Replacement stat. One could spend many years consciously attempting to miss a point and not miss a point so badly:

Yogi Berra is, bar none, the winningest baseball player in history. He played 17 seasons, and the Yankees won 14 pennants and 10 World Series. His manager, Casey Stengel, called him his manager on the field. His position, catcher, is critical, touching the ball on every pitch. He won three MVP awards and made 15 All-Star teams . . . According to WAR, Berra is the 97th best player of all time. 97th! By comparison, Jeff Bagwell is rated 35th. Bagwell played 15 seasons, winning one pennant and no World Series. He made four All-Star games and won one MVP. But he is 62 places better than Berra, the winningest player of all time . . . how could a player who contributed to so much more winning be rated so much lower? No offense to Bagwell, who I liked, but does anyone believe he is more valuable than Berra?

WAR is certainly not immune from criticism. It’s got a number of flaws and a number of blind spots. Anyone who doesn’t question stats like WAR or anything else for that matter is abdicating their critical thinking. But it seems like one must actually understand what the hell WAR is trying to explain before bashing it like this. Saying WAR stinks because Berra’s Yankees won more than Bagwell’s Astros is like saying batting average is flawed because it measures above average players too.

I’m not personally a stats guy. I’m a fellow-traveler. A member of the liberal arts wing of the stat people, as it were. I am totally unqualified to do any seriously heavy lifting when it comes to statistical analysis. But I do at least attempt to grok what statistics attempt to explain. To criticize them, to the extent I ever do, on their own terms, not on some invented terms I make up. Why people never seem to do this with sabermetric statistics is beyond me.

If a reporter wrote this ignorantly about economics or general science they’d be fired. Why we allow this sort of thing in sports is beyond me.

(link via Baseball Think Factory)

Marlins unveil what they’re putting in the space where the home run sculpture used to be

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Not long after the new ownership group bought the Miami Marlins, face of the franchise Derek Jeter made it clear that he wanted the home runs sculpture beyond the outfield fence gone. In October they announced that it would, in fact, be moving out to a plaza or the parking lot or someplace you’re unlikely to ever see it because who goes to Marlins games?

Today we got a tease of what the Marlins are doing with the space the sculpture is vacating:

It was only a matter of time before that green wall went away. There are a lot of things I like about the overall aesthetic of Marlins Park, but almost all of them are because of their novelty. Jeff Loria was bad for a lot of reasons, but one of the few good things he did was eschew nostalgia and traditionalism with the ballpark. Nostalgia and traditionalism, unfortunately, is the straw that stirs baseball’s drink, so any “weird” colors or flourishes were gonna be beat out of that place as the years went on. It was inevitable.

As for the “three-tier social space,” here’s hoping that tickets for it are cheap or the Marlins start winning ballgames soon, because the Marlins can’t really fill their existing spectator spaces now.