A Little Respect

Bill James
It’s 2013 and it appears that not all fans have embraced sabermetrics.  I would guess that 60% of baseball fans still use standard stats found on the backs of 1980’s era baseball cards and the “wisdom” of Harold Reynolds as a guide as to how good or bad players and teams are. Not to mention the eyeball test. Now I’m not bashing people who don’t use sabermetrics. In fact one of the reasons that attracted me to writing for this site was the fact that we, as writers, don’t talk to the masses. Instead we try to educate people on advanced statistics. One of the greatest articles I have ever read is “Sacrificial Silliness” by Lincoln Floyd. While it doesn’t use sabermetrics, per se, it does explain why bunting almost always doesn’t work. Other fans have come around to embrace the concepts he spoke of.
My main job (I wish writing was and I know it will be one day) involves working at a sports bar. You can almost imagine the conversations I have which are mainly with older people who only believe in wins/losses, batting average and ERA. The very first article I wrote for SDI in 2012 detailed how the Angels and their “too many good players” would not finish in first place. You can read that here. My friends ridiculed me saying that there was no way Texas would finish ahead of them. Not with Albert Pujols. I did research. I dug through advanced stats and I was proven right when the Angels finished in third place.At the beginning of the 2013 season the Angels were picked by many “prognosticators” to be the World Series champions. Again I did research and wrote about how they wouldn’t even finish first in the division let alone make the playoffs. I was laughed at again. Guess who’s laughing now? The Angels are trying desperately to not finish fourth.

Now I’m trying to come off like some bragging know-it-all. What I saying is that I wish more people would pay attention to advanced stats and look at websites like baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com more often to gain a larger perspective and realize that while people like me and the fine writers here at SDI may be labeled as “stats geeks” or some such, we also want people to be more knowledgeable about the game without acting like we have some sort of God complex. We aim to make people smarter while having fun enjoying the greatest game on Earth.

So next time you overhear somebody talking about WHIP, FIP, BAPIP and other terms you’ve never heard before don’t dismiss the conversation. Ask them about it. You just may be surprised about what you learn. And then you can brag to your friends.

On a closing note, instead of writing another article in a few months, I’ll just go ahead and say that the Angels won’t finish first next year either. A bloated payroll plus a weak farm system equals another poor season for the Halos.

James Holland is a Senior Columnist for Shutdown Inning. He can be reached at James.Holland@shutdowninning.com or @SDIJamesHolland on Twitter.
James Holland

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