Hatred for New Baseball Stats Is Misplaced

Matt WardContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

I always knew that there were writers out there who disagreed with the Moneyball philosophy. But thanks to firejoemorgan.com (one of many things I thank them for), I've realized how deep-rooted and hilarious this school of thought, and hatred, is.

Every once and a while I agree with a point. There is a place in the game for guys who maybe don't have the skill level of elite players, but play hard (or are "hustlers," if you will—and if I'm feeling saucy, "grinders" or "gamers." I'm gonna pretend I never said that. I'm ashamed of myself.)

But in this day and age, with all the statistical evaluation, we have a very good idea of how to measure a player's skill. They've been proven to be effective. Yet for some reason, these writers completely dismiss them and will simply revert to the argument that stats are ruining the game.

To paraphrase FJM, this is like getting a deep gash in your leg: "You can treat this easily? Screw that; wrap a shirt around it and hopefully it'll have to be amputated. That's more romanticized anyway." Baseball has always been a stat-oriented game. The precious RBI, last time I checked, is a stat.

Speaking of RBI, if I hear one more person write that RBI are a superior measure because the purpose of the game is to score runs, I'm going to lose my damn mind. Listen, if player A has a line of .280/.320/.480 with 100 RBI, and player B has .280/.380/.550 with 82 RBI, maybe because he plays on an inferior team, who are you going to take? If your answer is anything but B, I have serious problems with you.

The common argument is that player A drove in more runs, so since the point is to score runs, he's the better player. Yes, at that moment or that season, they had a buttload more RBI, but that moment/season is over. RBI is so connected to luck it's ridiculous. Other than solo home runs, it's a stat that is completely based on coming up to bat with men on base.

This school of thought says that it doesn't matter how as long as it gets done; it's about results. But those results, like I said, are so closely linked to luck/opportunities. If you want those results, go with the guy who gives you the best chance to get those results, not the guy who happened to bat at the right time.

If you want to score runs, go with the guy who will be on base more. If you want to score runs, go with the guy who is the better hitter.

Now, of course, OBP and SLG% and OPS are just scratching the surface of new stats that we have, but my main point is that stats as simple as these that measure the basic skills of the game are for some reason standing in front of this fire squad.

Next on the hit list: pitching records.