Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a story about Chris Sale and what makes him tick. One thing that doesn’t make him tick? Attention to advanced metrics. Or any metrics, really. He says he doesn’t look at his ERA or anything else all season. He just pitches. What’s more:
“All I know I’ve got to do is give up less runs than we score,” Sale said. “I don’t care about anything else. Not the numbers. Not the ISPFMLBLSSRs and whatever else Brian Kenny has come up with to define what makes a good player or not.”
Reminded the numbers love him, Sale said: “I don’t love them back.”
Sad. Because now he’ll never realize that when he lost his no-hitter by giving up a homer to Xander Bogaerts last night it was a textbook case of ISPFMLBLSSR regression. How he doesn’t care about that I have no idea.
In all seriousness, though: baseball players have no more of a need to know about or even care about advanced metrics than supernovas have to know about or care about telescopes. The stats aren’t for them, they’re for people trying to understand or explain what they do or trying to put teams together. And ballplayers did everything they do long before Henry Chadwick wrote down the first box score.
It’s one thing if a ballplayer seems to have no grasp of what he needs to do in order to perform his job well. That’s kind of a problem. But there’s no reason on Earth a ballplayer needs to understand why what he does is significant as long as he knows what the heck he’s doing. And Chris Sale knows what the heck he’s doing.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.