March 12, 2005

Many Contacts Among The Lumberjacks

Using Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star as an example of the huge number of sportswriters and broadcasters who hate sabermetrics without understanding it, Yankees blogger Larry Mahnken ponders "The Inexplicable Cult of 'Anything but Moneyball'":
... Griffin simply doesn't like the way the A's play baseball, he prefers teams that hit-and-run, steal bases, sacrifice bunt. Griffin, like Buster Olney, remains convinced that this is how baseball games are won, despite not only not having any evidence that this is the case, but mountains of evidence that exactly the opposite is true.

The Boston Red Sox were dead-last in all of baseball in "Productive Out Percentage". They laid down a total of twelve sacrifice bunts all season, they stole only 68 bases. But they were second in the league in walks, hit 222 home runs, and led MLB in OBP and SLG. They were the epitome of a "Moneyball" team. And they won the World Series.

And along the way, they swept the Anaheim Angels and St. Louis Cardinals, teams whose offensive strategies prominently featured bunts, hit-and-runs and steals. They didn't just beat them, the beat the crap out of them, by the combined score of 49-24 (an average score of about 7-3). The only team to challenge them? The Yankees, who hit more home runs and drew more walks than them, and were the second-worst POP team in the playoffs. ...

Sabermetrics says that you win by getting guys on base and bring them home, and conversely, keeping your opponents off base, and making sure the ones that get on don't get home. You win by scoring more than your oppponent, and that's how you score more than your opponent. ... This isn't a new fangled idea, it's how baseball games have always been won. ...

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