The Human Element

No, today isn’t the day we talk about intangibles. We’ll just have to agree to leave that quagmire for another day. No, today I want to talk about the feeling that sabermetrics is about trying to calculate baseball and remove the “human element”. I often hear people say/write (something to the effect of), “See. [Player X] did fine despite [sabermetric statistic that stated otherwise].The game isn’t played on a computer screen.” Like most of the arguments in the debate over newer statistics, it comes from a misunderstanding of what is actually happening and what the purpose of sabermetrics is. So, let’s talk about it.

Sabermetrics does not exist to eliminate the actual play of baseball. Sabermetrics does not exist so that nerds who have no athletic ability can take away from the players with immense athletic ability. Sabermetrics does not exist to render human beings into numbers. So, if it’s not that, what is it?

The purpose of sabermetrics is to rethink orthodoxy in baseball when there is a logical disconnect between the original statistic/strategy/theory and what actually happens. For example, ERA is supposed to measure pitcher performance, but someone realized that ERA actually incorporates other things such as defense. Batting average is supposed to measure hitter performance, but someone noticed the value of a walk and that all hits are not created equally. Sabermetricians did not simply wake up one day and say, “Today, I think I’ll try to destroy the very fabric of the game I love.” That doesn’t make any sense. Sabermetricians fight so hard because they love baseball, not because they hate it. No, they woke up and say (something to the effect of), “You know, this doesn’t make sense to me. So, let’s figure out why. First, what is the historic significance of the stat, and why was it implemented? Second, does it really measure what it says it does? Third, can we use computers, which the pioneers of the game did not have, to parse out performance and evaluate it more accurately?” The purpose of sabermetrics is to identify these disconnects and then critically and scientifically find out what is actually happening.

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Some pitching changes

As you likely know by now, Phil Hughes is starting in place of Dustin Moseley tonight. Considering that tonight represents normal rest for Hughes as it is, combined with the desire to knock the Magic Number down to one, I obviously approve of this move. Apparently the Yankees are also now saying they plan to start CC Sabathia on Tuesday in Toronto, which could potentially complicate lining him up for Game 1 of the ALDS. Of course, they have to get there first. For some excellent insight on these two moves, please be sure to check out Stephen R.’s take Continue reading Some pitching changes

Hughes starts tonight as rotation stays on schedule

For quite some time the Yankees have planned to start Dustin Moseley in tonight’s home finale against Boston, despite the fact that it was Phil Hughes’ turn in the rotation.  Change of plans.  Per every Yankee reporter out there, Phil Hughes will start tonight against Boston.  Despite the fact that he is almost certainly bumping up against the innings limit of 175-180 (currently at 169.1), the team is opting to have him go now.  There’s no word as to when he will start again this season, but it seems possible that this is his final start of the regular season. Continue reading Hughes starts tonight as rotation stays on schedule

Not that this is news, but pitching primary culprit in Yanks' recent dreadful play

The Yankees’ current four-game losing streak has been tougher to endure than any other stretch thus far this year — the dual fear of the Red Sox hanging around past their expiration date coupled with a desire to see the team head into the postseason on a high note has certainly made me feel uncomfortable, and I doubt I’m the only one. That being said, one doesn’t have to look too far to see why the Yankees have lost the last four games. While the offense hasn’t exactly shown up outside of Friday night’s 10-8 loss — and even then, Continue reading Not that this is news, but pitching primary culprit in Yanks' recent dreadful play

Yanks fall to Sox 7-3, lose four straight at home for first time all season

I’ve been trying my best to paint a rosy picture around the Yankees’ recent struggles, but even I’m finding my patience getting a bit tested, following the Yankees’ 7-3 loss to Boston, their fourth straight at home. Not that I expected the Yankees to actually beat Jon Lester, because they’ve shown time and again that they just can’t hit him (this was the second straight start of Lester’s against the Yankees that he took a no-hitter into the sixth), but because their pitching has basically taken them out of each of the last four games before they even had a Continue reading Yanks fall to Sox 7-3, lose four straight at home for first time all season

Quicks splits heading into the playoffs

Managerial decisions heading into October are often predicated on a player’s splits from that year, so I wanted to do a post on some of the more notable splits of prominent Yankees.  Should help shed some light on why Girardi will go in one direction or another, and recap how players have performed in situational spots this year. Phil Hughes–Home/Away troubles have been well documented. ERA goes from 4.84 at home to 3.52 on the road, much of the Yankee stadium woes the result of HRs. Hasn’t faced the Twins all that much, logging 7.1 career innings in 3 appearances Continue reading Quicks splits heading into the playoffs

Updating playoff rotation permutations

There was plenty of news coming out of the Yankees camp last night surrounding rotation shifts.  As Chad Jennings of LoHud noted this morning, we have a pretty good guess of how the rotation shakes out for the remainder of the year: Saturday, September 25 v. BOS: Ivan Nova Sunday, September 26 v. BOS: Dustin Moseley (formerly Phil Hughes) Monday, September 27 @ TOR: AJ Burnett (normal rest) Tuesday, September 28 @ TOR: not announced (formerly Sabathia) Wednesday, September 29 @ TOR: Phil Hughes (7 days rest) Thursday, September 30: off day Friday, October 1 @ BOS: CC Sabathia (7 Continue reading Updating playoff rotation permutations

Despite season-high six home runs, late Yankee rally falls short in 10-8 loss to Boston

It only took until the 154th game of the season for Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira to finally go deep in the same game for the first time this year. And if that weren’t enough, both sluggers hit two home runs apiece, which is probably the first time they’ve done that in two years as teammates. The Yankees ultimately hit a season-high six home runs — including a solo shot and two-run bomb from Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, respectively — but couldn’t quite dig out of the 10-1 hole they found themselves in as their impressive comeback finally fizzled Continue reading Despite season-high six home runs, late Yankee rally falls short in 10-8 loss to Boston

What's the better natural advantage?

The response to my Cito Culver post earlier this week put an interesting question in my head. Here are the comments: Richard Deegan: It’s about having people on the ground and getting into all corners, especially “home” (well, at least NY) turf. That’s how the Cards got The Man, while the Pirates dozed. Legwork!!! Tripp: I think the Braves are also real good at plucking players out of the Georgia area. The Yankees certainly seemed to believe that they had a better read on Culver, who was projected as a second roundish pick, than other teams. He is from upstate Continue reading What's the better natural advantage?