It’s funny what gets a response from people. I say all sort of hilarious things on Twitter (I really do; follow me @Mark_L_Smith), and I get the occasional reply or retweet. But I make one comment about RBIs, and I get no less than 13 replies (that’s not a whole lot, I realize, so follow me @Mark_L_Smith; side note: Chip and I are campaigning to have me “trend” on Twitter, so you should follow me and help with that. I’m sure you’re racing through the tubes to do such) from people I don’t even know or e-know. Arguments over newer statistical analysis have raged over the last few years, and it never fails to ruffle a few feathers. And that’s fine. Passion, either way, shows that you care, and I’m fine with that. But it’s also another indication that there’s a linguistic disconnect between the two sides.
Here’s my tweet: “I like how we’ve mainly quashed the value of RBIs and yet we still celebrate Chipper getting 1500. Not judging or say it’s not impressive.” Admittedly, this was not my best moment in linguistic prowess, but that’s what happens when you’re on Twitter, limited to 140 characters, and trying to respond quickly. Not an excuse, but I had several good and interesting responses. Most of them stated that they believed RBIs still held sentimental value, and others stated that it still represents a positive contribution by the batter. True statements indeed, but let me explain what I meant before we tackle the major issue.
First of all, I love Chipper, and he’s been my favorite player since he broke in. It was about the time I started to pay attention to baseball, and we kind of grew up together. In other words, I was not out to say anything negative about Chipper. But what about RBIs? As we continue to delve further into advanced statistics, one of the main goals is to isolate performance, and in this instance, we want to isolate batter performance. RBIs are heavily context-driven. It helps to have runners on base and to hit third, fourth, or fifth. When it comes down to isolating batter performance, there’s too much “outside noise” when it comes to RBIs.
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