I read a post this morning in one of my favorite forums that really got me thinking. Have a look at it first:
I have been a baseball fan my entire life, starting with my childhood hobby of collecting baseball cards. I memorized the stats of every player, batting average, home runs, RBI, ERA, wins, strikeouts, etc. When most kids my age were listening to the latest rock songs on the radio, I was listening to Marty and Joe, falling asleep to the sounds of late night west coast road trips.
I watched every baseball game that would be televised, the Cubs and White Sox on WGN, the Braves on TBS, the Reds on WLWT, every game shown by ESPN…I considered myself a diehard baseball fan, never simply just a casual fan. When Redszone started, I was one of the most prolific posters.Not long after, on base percentage and slugging percentage were the most popular stats used to rank the talent level of hitters, along with the combined OPS stat. I accepted it, and figured it out.
Then more stats appeared, like isolated power, batting average on balls in play, WHIP, and many others. I think there are stats used to determine the effectiveness of warm up pitches and time it takes a hitter to get from the on deck circle to the batter’s box. Our eyes and observations don’t have any bearing on the game anymore, it’s all about numbers, some of which have formulas so obviously complex you have to have a doctorate to even begin to understand how they are calculated.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t get all of these stats. I don’t know what half of them mean or how you arrive at them. I’m 33 years old, probably the median age of Redszone posters. I’m in tORG because I was grandfathered in. I don’t post nearly as much as I used to, because tORG posters demand a high level of Reds baseball discussion, which apparently means that EVERY thread we have anymore is filled with these complex stats and formulas that only calculator toting SABR fans can grasp. I’m not hating on those of you who love these stats and understand them, and I don’t think I’m any less a baseball fan for not getting them, though the tone of many threads leave me thinking that I might be. I never liked math, and I never will. I do love baseball though. I like watching games and cheering on my favorite team.
I don’t know if this is discussion worthy or not, but it’s been on my mind for a while, and I just thought that if I was thinking it, maybe there are other posters out there who feel the same way I do.
I have always felt that I could tell if a guy could play or not by watching a run of games; not looking at his statistics. Statistics do help support a deeper understanding of what your eyes are seeing, but the thing I do not like about them is that they can be given or used to support any viewpoint if you look hard enough for the right stat.
I took statistics in college. It’s the class I hated most. I thought I’d enjoy it because growing up I loved calculating my batting average on my mom’s desktop calculator after every game I played in the summer and writing it on a yellow notepad that we kept in the drawer. Little did I know that the dreadful class would have a little more to it.
I was shocked to find out my professor was a die hard baseball fan; but it wasn’t because he loved the sport. It was because the little man who otherwise reminded me of a martian from a different planet loved calculating statistics. That was back in 2005. That little son of a gun was a sabermetrician in the making. He’d love this shit.
And I have to admit, when talking baseball in the forum that I pulled the post above from; I feel like I know as much baseball as anyone in the forum (and there are some SERIOUS die hard fans which is why I love it there). However, I feel the added pressure to try and back up a post with stats now; or feel like my posts lack substance if I don’t have some type of slash stats or weird breakdown in the post supporting my point. I don’t like that. The forum is filled with sabermetricians! That’s where the game has evolved from a statiscal standpoint.
So while I enjoy what these little stat-heads bring to the table at times; I’m not one of them. I feel the same way as the guy above, he just stated his point in a much clearer manner than I have realized that I probably ever would have.
While I will admit, I enjoy looking at BABIP and a player’s Line Drive rate, I don’t necessarily understand every stat; especially ISOP (Isolated Power) and this by that divided by this over that stat that exists out there.
That said, saber freaks have their place but I’m just not one of them.