It’s good to be back, now that we have all regained consciousness.
As many of you know, ESPN.com columnist Peter Gammons referenced
Davenport’s EqA rankings
here at Baseball Prospectus
in his June 3
column. For Gammons, long a target of our barbs over the years, to
reference Clay’s work represents a significant step forward for him, a step
that follows his apparent embrace of OBP and his repeated references to OPS
as a tool for player comparison. Gammons deserves a lot of credit for the
change in his work over the past six months.
But more importantly, the reference is a milestone for performance
analysis. For a long time now, I’ve personally been hammering the point
that it doesn’t matter what progressive metric someone uses, be it OPS or
Runs Created or Equivalent Average or VORP or Extrapolated Runs. What
matters is getting the people in power and the people covering the game to
recognize that these tools exist and that any and all of them are better
than the traditional metrics.
With the work of Billy Beane in Oakland and Dan O’Dowd in Colorado, and the
introduction of OPS and EqA into the work of the media through people like
Mark Wolfson and, now, Gammons, we’re starting to see this happen. The
points that performance analysts have been pounding for years are slowly
starting to make inroads: strike-zone judgment is an increasingly
appreciated skill for batters. Pitchers are being handled with greater
care. No, these things aren’t happening everywhere–hi, Dusty–but they are
happening and they will happen more as the teams that embrace these
concepts have success and the media outlets that push a higher level of
baseball coverage get positive feedback.
Saturday was another victory for the Empiricists. The war isn’t over, but
when we tell our kids about it, winning this battle will be one of the
Joe Sheehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.