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August 5, 2010

Changing Speeds

Forty-two Things I Think, Part 2

by Ken Funck

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Last week, in response to a conversation I had with a casual acquaintance I’ve chosen to call Chet (but who would probably be more aptly called Polly Perkins), I laid out the first half of my list of 42 things I believe—almost all related to baseball, some related to metrics, some not. You can find the second half below. To reiterate, these are just my off-the-cuff beliefs, and some of them aren’t necessarily backed up by anything more than my own personal feelings. Feel free to praise or flame, and I encourage you to add your own beliefs in the comments.

22. I believe that the most common misunderstanding about baseball fans and analysts who employ more advanced metrics is that they think numbers can explain anything of value, and anything that can’t be explained with numbers has no value. Nothing could be further from the truth. Admittedly baseball analysts aren’t a homogeneous culture, so there may be some loud outliers, but the vast majority of those I read here at Baseball Prospectus and elsewhere are perfectly willing to acknowledge that clubhouse chemistry, the value of knowing your role, clutch performance, etc., have an impact on the game. The fact that they haven’t been, and perhaps can’t be, quantified doesn’t mean they don’t exist and can play an important role. Good analysts use metrics as a starting point and filter them through other factors to reach an opinion—and they’re aware that the result is, in fact, an opinion, often very well-informed and sometimes almost certainly correct, but an opinion nonetheless. Colin Wyers captured this perfectly yesterday: “Once we’re honest with ourselves over our confidence level in how well we can measure things, we realize that while the numbers can start a conversation, on their own they can rarely finish one.” Amen, brother.

23. I believe team chemistry can have a definite effect on how much a team wins. However, having great team chemistry is much less important than having great team talent. A talented team with a clubhouse seething with dislike and resentment is much more likely to win than a less-talented talented team whose clubhouse resembles Floyd’s Barber Shop (or Truvy’s Beauty Spot, if you so prefer).

24. I believe it’s silly to get upset when someone bunts for a hit to break up a no-hitter. Players should always be trying to win. Winning involves scoring, scoring involves getting on base, and since baseball does not have a clock, any out that’s avoided can lead to winning a game. Getting a bunt single requires legitimate skill by the hitter—at least as much skill as a bloop single, which would also end a no-hitter much less contentiously. I’ve never been a fan of “unwritten rules” in any sport, and this one never made much sense to me.

25. I believe a player who comes in contact with a base prior to being tagged should be called safe, regardless of whether the throw beat him there. Time and again I see players slide under or around a tag on a non-force play, yet the umpire calls him out anyway. If baseball wants calls to be made based on whether the ball reaches the base first, that’s fine—change the rules to make every play a force. If, however, the rules require a tag be applied, then the umpire needs to make sure this actually occurs. Similarly, if it’s a valid concern about injuries that allows the “neighborhood play” to be accepted, change the rules and draw a circle around second base in which middle infielders can legally force out runners.

26. I believe pitchers need to pitch inside, and I believe they need to protect their teammates if they’re being thrown at by opposing pitchers. What I’ve never understood, however, is the idea of deliberately plunking a player because he hit a home run in his previous two at-bats, or has otherwise successfully done his job at the expense of a given pitcher or his team. Anecdotally, this seems to be less common than it once was, but it reeks of bad sportsmanship and, in any case, is likely counterproductive.

27. I believe aliens currently inhabit Jose Bautista’s body, but I don’t think he minds.

28. I believe the biggest misunderstanding made by fans when it comes to the relationship between pitching and defense is that DIPS theory proponents pre-suppose that no pitcher has any control over balls in play. Pitchers certainly exert some control over batted-ball types, and batted-ball types tend to favor certain results (e.g., ground balls are less often turned into outs but are rarely home runs, while the opposite is true of fly balls). Some pitchers, and pitcher types, do seem to have a repeatable skill at having batted balls turned into outs. However, the selection process to become a major-league pitcher ensures that the variation in this skill is much less than you might think – the hitability gap between Mariano Rivera and Nick Blackburn is tiny compared to that between Blackburn and, say, the best starter at your local community college.

29. I believe Carlos Marmol’s ridiculous slider and improved fastball will see him set an all-time record for single-season bat-avoidance. After Tuesday’s games, only 38.57 percent of batters he’s faced have managed to avoid being walked, struck out, or plunked, while the current record is 46.43 percent by Armando Benitez in 1999. Marmol has struck out 44.76 percent of the batters he’s faced, which would be the second-highest seasonal rate of all time behind Eric Gagne’s 45.07 percent in 2003. Marmol is the new Eddie Feigner, even more entertaining than he is effective, and with the Cubs’ 2010 season fading from relevance, perhaps they could drum up some interest by having him pitch with only a first baseman and shortstop behind him.

30. Whether due to economic uncertainty or painful lessons being learned, I believe front offices have become much smarter about handing out long-term deals. As many analysts have repeatedly stated, virtually any one-year deal that goes bad can be survived, but a long-term deal that goes bad can be crippling. Teams currently seem better at avoiding long-term commitments to players unless they’re younger, healthier, and more clearly talented than many of those who minted their fortunes around the turn of the millennium.

31. I believe that the average player peaks around age 27, or more broadly in their late twenties, but more talented players tend to peak a little later, or perhaps more descriptively, their peaks last longer. I also believe the shape of pitchers’ careers tends to be “flatter” than that of hitters, i.e., they don’t improve as dramatically or drop off as dramatically before and after their peak.

32. I believe that “hitter vs. pitcher” data, due to its extremely small sample size, isn’t as useful as some broadcasters and even some managers seem to think. However, I suspect (with admittedly no tangible evidence) that the extreme outliers in this data probably might be reasonably predictive of a given pitcher/hitter who truly does “own” a given hitter/pitcher, and it makes sense for a manager to use this information when selecting a player to use in a given situation, all other factors being somewhat equal.

33. I believe there’s no particularly good way to quantify the effect that using steroids may have had on any given player’s career. Absent this knowledge, if I had a Hall of Fame vote I would almost certainly vote for an actual or alleged steroid user whose numbers were clearly worthy of induction. I understand many of the arguments against that: Steroid use is wrong and dangerous, users are bad people, rewarding cheaters is bad and sends the wrong message, it’s unfair to non-users of the same era, etc. Yet the Hall has certainly admitted people who were less than saints both on and off the field, and there were many others besides the players themselves who were complicit in turning the steroid era into The Steroid Era. I’m glad the new testing program seems to be helping, but I groan whenever the topic comes up since it is so often used as a reason for politicians or media types to grandstand. Tell me I’m an apologist or that I’m rationalizing—you wouldn’t be the first—but if I were an injured or aging player looking to get back my edge, or a young player looking to make my mark, and I saw how use by other players was often being studiously ignored, I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have tried it myself. Given that, I’d feel like a hypocrite criticizing others who made the same choice.

34. I believe that every study has shown that the run-producing effects of setting a batting order are pretty small beer, but it still galls me when people, especially managers, refuse to understand that on-base percentage is almost always a more important quality for the top of the order than speed and bat control. Few things grind my gears as much as seeing someone like Willy Taveras lead off a game—it’s like walking into a movie theater armed with popcorn, Raisinetts, and a smile, then sitting on a tack.

35. I believe that clutch hitting as a repeatable skill is very difficult to prove. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t guys I prefer to see come to the plate in key situations, and they’re not always the same guys I like to see come to the plate in other situations.

36. I believe that some of the best acting performances I’ve seen in the last decade can all be found in the film Doubt, which makes my list of Criminally Underseen Films.

37. I believe that statistics aren’t misleading, but those that use them, or choose to belittle them, without understanding them certainly can be. In response to a blog post on this subject, commenter RedsManRick had it right when he said this: “Statistics aren’t capable of taking action. They aren’t things which can mislead—they are tools which can be used … to mislead.” Statistics can be used to tell a story, but it’s up to us to ensure we understand what they can and cannot tell us.

38. I know it’s a bit of a chestnut, but I do believe that making consistent solid contact with a wooden bat on baseballs thrown by major-league pitchers who are trying to deceive you is the most difficult achievement in sports. The fact that many of us can do something similar when facing mere mortals sometimes makes us think we could stand in against Roy Halladay and get in a few good cuts. Actually, no, we couldn’t.

39. In their commendable quest to try and avoid pitcher injuries, I believe that teams are limiting veteran pitchers to many fewer innings than they can safely work. As I said last week, we’re really just feeling our way around how to keep pitchers healthy, but I agree with what Joe Sheehan said here: The emphasis should be on “young pitchers, and the extreme edge of high pitch counts.” Veteran starters, especially effective ones, command very high salaries, and every inning they throw is one that lesser pitchers don’t have to. I suspect teams can safely increase their pitch counts and have them start more frequently without adding much injury risk, and thus better leverage their most expensive assets.

40. Similarly, I believe veteran middle relievers should pitch more innings than the current paradigm allows. Mike Marshall was perhaps an extreme physical outlier, so I’m not suggesting 200-inning workloads from relievers—120 innings, however, doesn’t seem unreasonable for a healthy, productive veteran reliever working multiple innings per appearance. Again, each inning that can be removed from the back of the bullpen and given to a better pitcher will help in the win column. A smart front office can probably identify a lot of inefficiency in current pitcher usage patterns, and the first to boldly experiment with a paradigm shift could reap big rewards.

41. I believe the combination of money and wisdom in New York and Boston will keep both the Yankees and Red Sox from posting another losing season for the next, oh, let’s say 20 years, unless there is a radical change in the way revenue is shared.

 42. I believe I personally owe a debt of gratitude to Rob Neyer for using his column at ESPN.com to initially fuel my interest in baseball analysis, which in turn has deepened my love of and appreciation for the game. I believe there are many thousands more who can say the same thing, and there are many other pioneers and proselytizers (e.g., Bill James, BP’s Founding Five, Joe Posnanski, to name just a few) of whom the same can be said. Their work has given us these forums to debate and discuss, to learn and to enjoy, and our lives are richer for it. 

Ken Funck is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ken's other articles. You can contact Ken by clicking here

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34 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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4NYYGEHRIG

Enjoyed the article Ken. Agreed with 99.9 percent. The steroid era still has a lot of shaking out for me to make sence of it.

Aug 05, 2010 04:52 AM
rating: 0
 
bozarowski

Fantastic article.

#27: All I can picture is that scene in Men in Black when Will Smith opens up the face of that old guy and there's a little alien sitting in a control room. I feel like I'm always going to think that when I see Bautista now...

#33: I could not agree more but I'd add one other aspect to it. We don't know (and likely will never know) who did what. Mainstream sportswriters ASSUME Sosa/Gonzalez/Clemens used steroids but there is no test that says so. Likewise, they assume Jeter/Griffey/Thomas/Rivera/Ripken/etc never used steroids. Isn't it worse to let in an uncaught actual user - say someone who bought from a dealer that hasn't been caught or stuck to something untestable like HGH - than to disallow someone on a writer's suspicion? Too much of it is based on speculation and self-aggrandizing nonsense about protecting the history of the game. If you told a sportswriter that they could write 10% better and make twice as much money by taking a pill that was not legal, but that sportswriter only had a TINY chance of getting caught and their newspaper would be more than ok with their taking the pill, I believe the VAST majority would take the pill without question.

#36: Agreed the performances are fantastic, especially the criminally underrated Amy Adams - too bad the ending is an enormous cop-out.

Aug 05, 2010 06:33 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Thanks. What you say about #33 is interesting -- the same question of which is worse, punishing one innocent or not punishing many who are guilty, also applies to crime policy, although the consequences are obviously of a different magnitude.

The "assumption of innocence" is a also very good point. This spring I heard Jon Heyman (I think) discussing the Cubs hiring of Greg Maddux, which happened to occur at the same time McGwire was reporting to Cardinals camp and the media had steroids on the brain. Heyman discussed the irony of Maddux, who was clean, having to compete against guys who were dirty, and how much better his numbers may have been during a different era. Now, I don't know that Maddux used steroids, but I also don't know that he DIDN'T use steroids, and it's this assumption by many (not to pick on Heyman) that they can be sure some players used and others didn't that bothers me.

As for the writing pill -- how do you think a schmuck like me did so well in BP Idol?

#36 - I thought Viola Davis was particularly terrific.

Aug 05, 2010 07:50 AM
 
graignettles

No. 34: "it’s like walking into a movie theater armed with popcorn, Raisinetts. and a smile, then sitting on a tack."

Talk about summing up Willy Tavares in 20 words or less. Excellent. I'd even go as far as to say "CK worthy".

Nice one KF.

Aug 05, 2010 07:03 AM
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Mike Fast

Hi, Ken. I enjoy your writing and agree with a number of your listed beliefs. However, on #32, hitter-vs-pitcher matchups, have you read what Tango, et al, published on that topic in the Book? They seem to have studied it pretty thoroughly, including addressing your point about outliers. I'm curious if you hold your belief in spite of what they found, and if so, what your thought process is.

Aug 05, 2010 07:29 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Hi Mike! Yes, I've read what Tango et al. had to say about this in The Book, and last night I actually re-read what James Click had to say about this in Baseball Between the Numbers. So I guess it's fair to say I hold this belief despite the solid evidence they've presented -- which is why I also included such wiggle words as "admittedly no tangible evidence" and "all other factors being somewhat equal."

I understand that a normal binomial distribution will include extreme outliers -- Click's example was Mike Redmond "owning" Tom Glavine -- and that a small sample is not very predictive of the next small sample. But I can't shake the psychology of the pitcher/batter showdown, where batters who hit particular pitchers (or pitcher types) well feel comfortable facing them, and pitchers who have had trouble retiring particular batters feel uncomfortable against them. Most of us have experienced this phenomenon before -- I remember when I used to play a lot of basketball there was a certain guy I hated to have guard me, since even though he wasn't a particularly good player or a particularly good defensive player I just never played well against him. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the great likelihood is that a given small sample isn't predictive of a particular skill, there's still some chance that it is.

Is that in any way a convincing statistical argument? Of course not--in fact it flies in the face of other, quite valid statistical arguments. That's why it's a belief, and one I wouldn't act on except in certain circumstances. Perhaps Mike Redmond really did see Tom Glavine well (he did hit lefties reasonably well in general), and while I wouldn't send him up there to fact Glavine ahead of Albert Pujols, I might very well have him pinch-hit for Damian Miller.

Aug 05, 2010 08:51 AM
 
Mike Fast

Thanks for the explanation.

Aug 05, 2010 09:32 AM
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TangoTiger

Ken presents this better than anyone else. He acknowledges the arguments from both sides, admits he is almost definitely wrong, but clings to whatever he can to ensure his belief system remains in place.

For better or for worse, his belief is the very thing that sabermetrics is trying to obliterate. In some ways, sabermetrics has ruined certain aspects of baseball, especially if you don't fill that void with other aspects of baseball that sabermetrics has taught us.

Aug 05, 2010 10:14 AM
rating: -2
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

I'm not sure that I'm admitting that I'm 'almost certainly wrong.' It's more that I'm acknowledging that there is a non-zero chance that a given batter really, truly possesses an ability to face a certain pitcher that's beyond his normal hitting ability. Analysis has shown that the likelihood of that is low, but not nil, and if a manager uses that as a criteria to select between two otherwise equal choices to face a given pitcher, I think that's defensible. This is not so much a belief I choose to cling to in defiance of all evidence; it's more an awareness that a small chance is not the same thing as no chance.

Aug 05, 2010 11:08 AM
 
bflaff1

Just wanted to chime in on #32 as well. I think there is a non-trivial impact on the game from players who feel particularly confident against certain other players or in certain situations. Going up to the plate with a head full of doubt, because you've been 'owned' too many times in the past, vs. going up to the plate thinking you can hit anything because you've 'owned' the pitcher is psychologically relevant, and it's bound to make a difference.

The problem with trying to pull that out of a data set is that you won't be able to restrict it to the people and situations where that very particular kind of confidence is in play. Players who have had extreme success against a pitcher in the past (thus getting treated as an example of this phenomenon) don't always feel like they 'own' them, and vice-versa. Conversely, a guy may feel 'locked in' against a certain pitcher even if his success rate doesn't justify the feeling. But that confidence might help him do better (less badly) than he otherwise would have. In any case, in any data set you'll almost certainly include players and situations that don't actually belong in the study, and the false positives will obscure whatever the real effect is.

In the absence of interviewing every player to see when, if ever, they feel like Superman so that you can try to measure the phenomenon, it's just a theory. But it makes plenty of intuitive sense.

Aug 05, 2010 13:00 PM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

Ken- this was an awesome mini-series of articles. I visualize you as the BP version of Crash Davis getting the BP version of Susan sarandon to say 'oh my!"

#22- This sums up my only quibble with BP. SOOOOOOOO many times, an author will run a regression to explain something and attribute all "unexplained variance" to "luck" as opposed to the intangible elements like chemistry, clutch, etc that you mention here. Thank you for articulating this point so well.

#33- some have estimated that up to half of MLBers used PED at some point in the 90s. If this is even within an order of magnitude of being correct, I do not see how someone could ding a "suspected cheater" or even a confirmed cheater (prior to league-wide testing in 2004) by not voting him for the HoF. Now, someone like Manny Ramirez who actually failed an on-the-books PED test, is another matter; I think one could legitimately hold his PED use against him.

#36- The acting in Doubt was fantastic, although the cinematography and editing was amateurish and heavy-handed, taking me out of many scenes. The ending is supposed to be uncertain. While the movie was very good, the play on Broadway, on which it is based, was markedly better.

#42- Neyer was the gateway drug for a lot of us. I was lucky enough to shake his hand once to thank him.



#40- the way I always saw it, if I bring in a relief pitcher and he's pitching well, I want to keep him in regardless of handedness or other factors. Every time you put in a new pitcher, you never know exactly what you are going to get out of them that day (good day or bad day). For example, while it worked out in 1996, I was creaming at the tv whenever Torre would lift Rivera (who had just mowed down 5 batters on 11 pitches) for Wetteland just because it bacame a save situation...

Aug 05, 2010 09:59 AM
rating: 1
 
samhain

I do not recall any unwritten rule back in the 60s or 70s about not bunting to break up a no-hitter. The good bunters on the Dodger teams of the 60s, in particular Maury Wills, tried it as a matter of course; and the opposition felt it was a perfectly acceptable strategy, as they used it against the Dodgers too.

I'm guessing that this "rule" arose with the rise of national sports highlight shows--in particular ESPN--when breaking up a no-hitter suddenly meant depriving pitchers of craved-for screen time.
It's an especially ridiculous resentment in a 1-0 or 2-0 game, when any baserunner might affect the game's outcome.

Aug 05, 2010 10:03 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

The first play that comes to mind for me was when Bob Brenly and the D-backs got bent out of shaper after Ben Davis bunted for a hit to end Curt Schilling's perfect game with one out in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/diamondbacks/2001-05-27-schilling.htm

Aug 05, 2010 10:11 AM
 
ahemmer

#38 - I have thought about this. I think if I faced a major league pitcher with 4 at least average pitches, he would be impossible to hit. Sure, I might get a good cut and tip or foul some off, but actual, solid confident contact would be hard. And by confident I mean reading the pitch and swinging where I believe it will be, not guessing.

Aug 05, 2010 10:29 AM
rating: 0
 
greensox

#25 - I like the way the umps call it: if the ball beats you, you are out at 2nd and 3rd, as long as the tag is reasonably close....it prevents injuries. AT home, you have to make the tag on the dot. If the umps starting enforcing it, the tags would be made and more SS and 2B would hit the DL....
#35- I think there is such thing as clutch hitting, and the stats community refusal to accept it exhibits their arrogance...just because you can't measure it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I know there is arrogance on the other side, but that is an example of stats arrogance.

Aug 05, 2010 13:43 PM
rating: -2
 
brain1081

Maybe a part of the problem is that "Clutch" is so broadly defined. I consider it to be someone that comes through when the game is on the line but someone else may think of it differently. I have tried to find players that consistently come through in the clutch (better than what they would normally) and have found very little evidence that maintains from year to year. Furthermore, why do we care about "clutch". I'm much more interested in finding watching better players play than players that would only theoretically be good when the game is on the line but pretty much bad in all other situations. To me clutch is a meaningless term that was created by t.v. analysts that were basing their belief upon 1 or 2 plays that they've seen involving a player.

Aug 05, 2010 15:52 PM
rating: 1
 
greensox

Well I think it's relevant. It's the inverse to producing when there is LITTLE on the line, which is also relevant, imo. A hit in a tie game in the 9th is simply more important than a hit in a 10 run game in the 9th.
A scoreless inning pitched late in a tie game is more important than a scoreless inning pitched in a blowout game.
Similarly, a 4 hit performance on a team in a race in September is more relevant than a 4 hit performance on a team 13 games out in September.
People are humans. To suggest that performance doesn't change based on the situation defies human nature. And that changed performance is also relevant. The stat guys should work on quantifying it rather than scoffing at it (which, unfortunately, they do too often on things that they haven't figured out how to quantify).
I also think that run differential is a flawed statistic and that records in 1 run games isn't 90% luck- so I know I goe against the CW on here.

Aug 05, 2010 17:06 PM
rating: -1
 
ScottyB

I think part of the problem in "finding" clutch is that the 99.9999% of mere mortals who would fold under the pressure of 40k fans in a stadium screaming their heads off and knowing there were potentially millions watching on tv during a critical at-bat have already been removed from ever being in that situation. Therefore the variance on the "clutch" variable is VERY small.

In little league, or even college ball, the variance for how people would handle the pressure is far wider, and thus, we can more readily see clutch (and choking) when it occurs.

Aug 05, 2010 18:32 PM
rating: 1
 
brain1081

The other problem is that we have yet to define clutch. Based upon these examples we have late and close on a game level and in the heat of a pennant race on a seasonal level. There is so much noise between just these 2 examples that it's no wonder there's no way to prove or disprove clutch performance. Clutch hitters on a team with bad pitching and below average offense are going to a) have very few opportunities on a game level because they will be behind in most games with few runners getting on in front of them b)have pretty much 0 chance of seeing a pennant race. It's not that people haven't tried proving that clutch exists (or doesn't) it's that defining clutch would immediately invalidate the statistic to a lot of people because it may not include things that others think are clutch. The data without a doubt would automatically lead you to believe that better teams have more clutch players simply because they have more opportunities.

Aug 06, 2010 15:49 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

You all make good points, and I think you're correct, ScottyB -- I suspect the selection process for MLB players makes them less susceptible to "choking" (for want of a better term) than the population at large, and the variation between players becomes narrower. I still believe there are some players who are more likely to come through with big hits or big outs or big catches in big situations, over and above their normal ability, though it's nearly impossible to agree on a definition of "clutch" and then find statistical evidence of it as a repeatable skill.

Aug 06, 2010 20:53 PM
 
thenamestsam

On #25 I think you missed the point. Ken isn't arguing against the idea that the call should be made the way it is, just that however we decide to call it should be codified and official. Personally I never bought the not tagging to avoid injuries. Those players go for tags, they're just consistently missing them, and I think the calls should reflect that, but if more people prefer it the other way, that's fine too. What drives me crazy is the inconsistency, something that codifying these things one way or the other would address.

Aug 05, 2010 20:56 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

This.

I'm perfectly willing to have the league promulgate rules to avoid injuries -- heckfire, I've played in softball leagues where any play at the plate is a force, and there are two bags side-by-side at first base to keep runners from becoming entangled with first basemen. If there's a compelling reason to outlaw tags, or allow the neighborhood play, that's fine. Just make it a rule, so it can be correctly and equally enforced.

Aug 05, 2010 21:08 PM
 
greensox

Oh, and both articles were interesting reads. You won the contest for a reason, big guy.

Aug 05, 2010 13:46 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I think a lot of people, from writers now here (Funck, Swartz, etc.) and elsewhere, as well as readers, and the staff at BP won the contest. It opened up a ton of dialogue, introduced new writers, and got BP some feedback on what the readers wanted and some needed critique of BP from other baseball and sabremetrics sites. Definitely woth the stress it put people through.

Aug 05, 2010 17:44 PM
rating: 1
 
TheRealNeal

#33 is a common misconception. The players who used steroids should have all been banned from the game, not be rewarded with HOF inductions. Just because you don't get caught, doesn't mean you should be rewarded. Say you had St. Peter's job for a day - do you let the drug dealers who didn't get caught into Heaven, and throw the guys who did time out? Not getting caught is not moral justification.

Aug 05, 2010 19:28 PM
rating: -2
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Totally agree with you that we shouldn't distinguish between users who were caught and users who weren't caught -- if using was bad, then it was bad whether or not your use has been exposed. But the problem then becomes, should we vote ANYONE in, since we can never be sure whether anyone we're voting on has ever used? And if information came out now that, say, Cal Ripken used steroids late in his career, would we kick him out? My preference is to not try and pretend I can know who did and didn't use, and therefore not use that as a factor in determining who I think belongs. I understand and don't lightly dismiss the moral objections some might have to this line of thinking, of course -- that's why there are entire curricula surrounding ethics and philosophy.

Aug 05, 2010 20:38 PM
 
poedbz

But how do you decide who didn't get caught, and who was clean?

We have no idea who took what, and we have no idea how much anyone's numbers were changed or not changed. Hitters used, but pitchers used too.

Given the fact that there is no empirical evidence to support any conclusions about how steroid use effects the ability to play baseball, and we have very little actual knowledge about who used and who didn't, it needs to be ignored for hall of fame voting purposes.

Aug 05, 2010 21:03 PM
rating: 1
 
TheRealNeal

Well, the people who, for instance, have admitted that they used them, I would probably be able to figure out that they weren't clean. Maybe you're still on the fence, but I am going to go with a leap of faith there.

It's not a question of empirical evidence on how it changed their performance. It is a question of ethics. You have a group of players who broke the rules of the game and the laws of the land in an effort to get ahead. Why would you possibly want to reward that kind of behavior?

Aug 08, 2010 14:14 PM
rating: 0
 
RedsManRick

Just wanted to say thanks for the shout-out, Ken. I enjoyed the full 42.

Aug 05, 2010 22:41 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

#33 I think we just have to make our best guesses at who used and how much they were helped - then award things like Hall of Fame entrance accordingly. Sure, be generous. Be understanding. But, don't ignore it just because we can't quantify it or let alone know who used when and how much.

Aug 06, 2010 16:31 PM
rating: -1
 
John Carter

# 26 - Yes, sir, indeed.
# 24 - Yup... such as I don't understand what's so wrong with stealing a base with a large lead. It makes sense strategically. Why not?

Aug 06, 2010 16:34 PM
rating: -1
 
NJTomatoes

I believe BABIP is the most overvalued stat used in analysis. The continued references to "luck" when discussing players' BABIP or pitchers' BABIP-against drive me crazy.
The inference is the batter is just swinging away, hoping to make contact and the ball goes where it goes. The truly good hitter is hitting the ball where he is trying to, the truly good pitcher is making the batter hit a pitch he can't control. Maybe a pitcher has a high BABIP against because he sucks and his pitches are easier for the batter to hit where he'd like to.

Aug 06, 2010 21:31 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

I think BABIP is more instructive for the average hitter or the average pitcher, who isn't "truly good" enough to _always_ hit the ball or pitch the ball where he wants. After all, there are far fewer "truly good" players than "merely good", "average" or "below average" pitchers.

Aug 07, 2010 02:01 AM
rating: 0
 
drawbb

Inception and Doubt both suck. I will give Ken a ton of credit for rightly naming The Prestige as Nolan's best movie, though.

Aug 10, 2010 10:03 AM
rating: 0
 
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