On BaseballI don't have much to say about this -- beyond a bit of bolding. I didn't want you to miss it. Keep in mind that this is the senior baseball writer at the most important newspaper in the United States.
As Season Approaches, Some Topics Should Be Off Limits
By Murray Chass
Things I don't want to read or hear about anymore ...
* Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.
I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.
To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn't care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn't know what it meant either.
Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don't ask what it means. I don't know.
I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that's their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans' enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.
People play baseball. Numbers don't.
The stunning depth of his ignorance is matched only by his obvious pride in that ignorance. Even when he finally mentions VORP in his writing, he can't be bothered to define it. ... FJM has more. ... BP's Nate Silver responses to Chass.
But Chass doesn't run screaming from all stats. Not at all. Here's a snip from an article regarding last season's AL MVP vote:
After the games of June 7, the Twins were 25-33 and were 11.5 games from first place. Morneau, playing in 53 of those 58 games, was hitting .237 with 11 home runs and 38 runs batted in.Batting average. Home runs. RBI. Games played. ... As author Alan Schwartz showed in The Numbers Game, the more progressive baseball minds 120 years ago knew that these methods were woefully inadequate in measuring a player's value.
In the final 104 games, all of which Morneau played, the Twins produced a 71-33 record as he batted .361, hit 23 home runs and drove in 92 runs.
Yet here's Murray Chass resting his arguments on methods that were outdated before Ty Cobb was born! ... Sadly, he has plenty of company.