Putting Sabermetrics To The Test: The Introduction

Anyone that has read this blog more than twice will know that I love sabermetrics. I jokingly told Nick Nelson a while ago that I do it because I’m studying mathematics in college and therefore I’m obligated to like them, but the truth is that I do feel they tell us more about a player than the statistics we’ve used for decades. It also eliminates some of the objectivity that some of us may have towards a certain player,* and can be used effectively with scouting to paint a solid picture of what we can expect out of the player on the field.

* Though you may point out that I will always partially dislike for Dusty Hughes because of the reason why the Twins acquired him, and his acquisition forced Rob Delaney off the 40-man roster. He may be a perfectly decent pitcher for the Twins, but I can’t help but think that if they looked at his stats against the Tigers instead, they would have seen a different pitcher. I digress.

However, sabermetrics aren’t in favor by all people. For one, some of the new statistics are complicated, both in calculations and understanding what they mean. Second, I feel that some people just don’t like changes. Think of all the people you know that don’t like it when Facebook and/or Twitter adopts new features, even though a week later they’ll vaguely remember the old appearance.

Finally, and I suppose we could call this the “Patrick Reusse Reason For Disliking Sabermetrics,” is that some people feel these new stats don’t tell us any more than what the old stats do. For example, I remember the CRRAM session on 1500 ESPN Radio with Phil Mackey when they discussed wins above replacement. At one point, Reusse said something along the lines of “So why do I need a stat to tell me how good a player is if I already know he’s good?”

For those of you that are knowledgeable in the subject, there are some of these statistics that relate to luck. Therefore, I have an idea of using some of these statistics from the 2010 season compared to their respective career statistics to predict these players’ 2011 statistics. But before I do that, I should lay down some ground rules.

1. The study becomes unreliable if the given player suffers a significant injury during the 2011 season.

If a player has a known injury and attempts to play through it, his performance on the field almost always suffers (see J.J. Hardy). Very rarely does a player have an injury and seems no worse for wear, such as Brad Radke in 2006. Therefore, if someone suffers a significant injury (I suppose that will be arbitrarily decided on what constitutes as “significant”), I might just say that we can no longer consider that player for this study.

2. This is not intended to prove or disprove the reliability of sabermetrics.

It’s just for fun. Seriously. Sometimes players have bad (or good) luck for more than a single year. For example, Ricky Nolasco appears to be a mediocre pitcher for having only one season with an ERA under 4.50 in his career, but by sabermetrics, he looks like a very good pitcher. Relief pitchers can be all over the place from year to year.

3. I will not cherry-pick statistics for these players.

I won’t be reporting every single statistic for these players; that would be too time consuming. However, I will consider all of them, and then make an informed decision based on what I see. So don’t get upset if I appear to ignore a batter’s line drive rate. I’ve already considered it, but probably decided to ignore mentioning it.

4. Seriously, this is for fun.

I just like the irony of including “seriously” and “fun” in the same sentence.

Now if your interest has been snagged on one of the barbs of this post, feel free to click on the link here that will bring you to my saber-centric predictions for the 2011 Twins pitching staff. (Note: Post not available yet.)


4 Responses to “Putting Sabermetrics To The Test: The Introduction”

  1. Andrew Says:

    You’re using one years’ worth of data to predict 2011? Color me skeptical.

    • Andrew Says:

      I know it’s certainly flawed, but I did say two things. First, in many cases I’m comparing them to a player’s career numbers to see if the 2010 numbers were outliers. Second, I said it’s just for fun and should not be considered as evidence for or against the reliability of sabermetrics.

      Basically, it’s just my first attempt at predicting how a player will do in a season.

    • Andrew Says:

      And it looks as though I’m replying to myself here…

  2. fitting gear Says:

    I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit
    of it. I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff you post…

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