Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Stats are a thing - not just the only thing

Goatfriend Kevin Kaduk from Yahoo’s Big League Stew does an admirable job all year covering the National Pastime, and today he pours the Steak Sauce on the meat, with his mention of recently retired Morgan Ensberg’s comments about sabermetrics.


 


Duk and Ensberg touch upon one of my favorite topics, you know the one, where statistics can explain much about the game, but not everything.  Yes, stats can give you a macro picture of why games are won and lost.  Certainly, you can look at Micah Hoffpauir’s line for 2009 to see that he sometimes got a big hit, but most of the time, did not.  His average and OPS are quite low, as are his RBI for someone with that many at-bats, most if not all of them nestled into productive slots in the batting order.


 


But stats do not explain everything.  Yes, Milton Bradley posted an anemic RBI and batting average with RISP.  But if you were a man from Mars, just landed here and looked at Bradley’s average and OPS, you might think he was fairly productive.  Oh, but winning is all about WHEN you get the hits, WHERE you place the bunt, HOW your body language spoke to hitters as you stood on the mound.  Sabermetrics do not and cannot explain any of that, nor should they.


 


Stats are fine things to help us keep score.  They help the casual fan follow the game, they are useful for endlessly entertaining weenies involved in fantasy games, and they can explain performance macro-trends for executives.  But there is no real way to unlock the secret to life using stats alone, and to unequivocally state there is, is simply wrong.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award