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Wake Up Baseball Fans – WAR is Fake and Meaningless 2

Posted on July 28, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Mike Trout is a great player, but sabermetrics thinks he is one of the greatest of all-time.

Mike Trout is a great player, but sabermetrics thinks he is one of the greatest of all-time.

As a baseball fan who has been paying attention to baseball stats since the early 1970s when my primary motivation to learn to read was so I could read the statistics on the back of baseball cards, I have reached my limit with those baseball “stat geeks” who have taken the game I love and turned it into a mathematical equation that seems more designed to show how smart they are rather than really identifying who the best baseball players are.

I started reaching my limit over the last several years when the sabermetrics craze has minimized some baseball greats while pushing others to a higher level, regardless of what their real statistics say.

The greatest example of this is Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout. If you judge baseball based simply on sabermetrics, you will likely try to argue that he is the greatest baseball player since Babe Ruth, heck, maybe even better.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Mike Trout is a great player, but I am not yet ready to consider him in the same conversation as some of the all-time greats.

Earlier this year, there was an article claiming that Trout was on his way to having the greatest single season in baseball since Ruth. That sounds amazing, but at the time he was hitting .below .300 and was not ranked among the league leaders in home runs or runs batted in.

What the sabermetrics folks have done is change the definition of what is considered important in judging the success and greatness of a baseball player.

For generations, batting average, home runs, extra base hits and runs batted in were the primary stats used to judge greatness. Heck, those were most of the stats listed on baseball cards when I was growing up. Secondary to those would be things like runs scored, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

Beginning in the mid-1980s with the publication of Bill James Baseball Abstract and continuing at a greater pace as fantasy baseball (originally known as rotisserie baseball) started building in popularity, there has been a growing desire among some baseball fans to look at the value of players in different ways.

Bill James originally devised the idea of “win shares” and that concept has been taken to a greater extent through sabermetrics with what is now considered by some baseball fans as “THE” measurement statistic of a player’s value known as WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

While I am not going to pretend to know enough about WAR to explain how it is computed, it is very clear that at some level WAR is designed to reward players who do more than just get base hits, drive in runs and hit home runs. Players who score well in WAR tend to get on base a lot, score runs and are quality defensive players.

In 2012 there was quite an uproar when the old school baseball definition of greatness clashed head-on with the new school definition of value for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

At first glance, the 2012 AL MVP voting should have been a “no brainer”. Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had an amazing season in becoming the first American Leaguer since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the triple crown (lead the league in home runs, batting average and RBIs). Read the rest of this entry →

Being a Staff Ace Isn’t What it Used To Be 1

Posted on October 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Despite being the staff ace, there was never any thought by the Rangers of having Cliff Lee pitch three games in the World Series.

If I was writing this column in 1970 or even in 1990, it would be about Cliff Lee’s preparation to start game four of the World Series for a Texas Rangers squad that trails two games to one and desperately needs a strong performance from their best pitcher.

However, because we are in the year 2010 when pitchers are often treated like fine china, this column is about how the Rangers must figure out how to win three more games though their staff ace will pitch just one more time in the series.

What is interesting about the decision by Ron Washington to pitch Tommy Hunter in game four, instead of to start Cliff Lee on three day’s rest, is that it really isn’t a decision at all. I every interview from prior to the World Series through game three, Washington never wavered in his insistence that Lee would not pitch a day earlier than normal regardless of the situation in the Series.

Given that Lee struggled in the first game with a week of rest, it makes sense not to take a chance bringing him back early. However, the decision means that should the Series come down to one final game, the Rangers would not be pitching their staff ace.

Of course the same would be true for the San Francisco Giants, but even with consecutive Cy Young Awards to his credit, there has never been discussion about maneuvering their rotation to get a third start out of Tim Lincecum.

What is interesting about the situation for the Rangers is that just a year ago, Lee and his previous team the Philadelphia Phillies were in the same exact situation.

Trailing two games to one against the Yankees, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel did not start Lee in game four though the Yankees were pitching their ace C.C. Sabathia on short rest. The Yankees went on to win the game and take a 3-1 Series lead. Lee won game five, but the Yankees claimed the Series in six games. Read the rest of this entry →

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      November 17, 2018 | 8:12 pm

      Preston-Pearson-Cowboys-2The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month played in five Super Bowls with three teams during a 14-year NFL season, but is likely best known for being the ultimate third-down situation back during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.

      When Preston Pearson was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 12th round of the 1967 NFL draft out of the University of Illinois, there was no expectation that he would develop into one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. In fact, given that Pearson was a two-year starter in basketball and never played a snap of college football, he was a long-shot to ever play a down in the NFL.

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