It was a roller coaster week for the smug followers of the cult of sabermetrics. First, the writers had the audacity to give the Cy Young award to a pitcher who won 22 games. But then their man crush won an undeserved MVP, so everything was all right in their little world.
Rick Porcello won the Cy Young over Justin Verlander even though Verlander received more first-place votes (insert Electoral College joke here). Porcello led the American League with 22 wins while Verlander won just 16. Now, the sabermetrics folks think wins are meaningless because they are team dependent. I understand the argument; after all, if the bullpen blows an excellent game for a starter, he does not get credit for the win even though he pitched well. And if a team scores 10 runs a game for a pitcher, he will likely get a win regardless of how well he pitched.
Did you ever consider that maybe a pitcher can accumulate wins because he is able to go deep into games? This way, he does not give his mediocre middle relievers a chance to blow games for him. Porcello was fourth in the league in innings pitched, just a few behind Verlander. Oh, and all of the top five among innings pitched were also among wins leaders.
Porcello was fifth in ERA at 3.15 in a season in which no pitcher in the AL posted an ERA lower than 3.00. Verlander was second at 3.04.
So don’t think for a second Porcello’s wins were cheap. He and Verlander (not to mention Corey Kluber) had very similar years, and the wins put Porcello over the top. It’s as simple as that.
Of course, the sabermetrics geniuses live and die by WAR, a random conglomeration of statistics that has at least three different formulas, depending on what baseball website you visit. Verlander did indeed lead Porcello in WAR, and that’s all they care about.
The same goes for Mike Trout, who no doubt is the best player in baseball, but does not deserve the MVP every year. His WAR was double that of David Ortiz, who had the best year in the AL and should have won the MVP, in my opinion.
They both hit .315 while Ortiz topped him in home runs 38-29. Ortiz led the league in doubles with 48. Trout did have a .441 on-base percentage (another big sabermetrics stat), but Ortiz was not too shabby at .401. Ortiz led in another alleged important stat, OPS — 1.021 to .991. Amazingly, Ortiz only struck out 86 times as opposed to 137 for Trout (although the sabermetrics people don’t care about strikeouts).
Ortiz also tied for the league in RBIs with 127. Trout was 14th with 100. If you subscribe to the sabermetrics way of life, I know you have a pompous smile on your face right now because I should know that RBIs are meaningless. Like wins, they are team dependent. And in some respect, they are. If no one is getting on base in front of you, you will not have the chance to get RBIs. That’s all well and good, which means perhaps players who have low RBI totals should not be penalized and deserve a closer look to see why they were deficient.
But that does not mean you should penalize or disregard a player who was able to compile a lot of RBIs. It just means he was able to come through in the clutch. Oops, there I go again. Clutch stats are supposed to be meaningless as well. The theory goes that a player should be able to hit the same way with men on base or not, whether it is April or deep into October. In theory, that is correct. But in the real world, it does not work out that way. Even sabermetrics founder Bill James has admitted there is something about clutch play that cannot be quantified. And sabermetrics people don’t like things you can’t quantify. So they just dismiss it.
Anyway, back to Trout vs. Ortiz (or Mookie Betts, or Miguel Cabrera, or Jose Altuve). Ortiz simply had better numbers than Trout (oh, and did I mention he did this at age 40?!), but because Trout led in WAR, he got the MVP.
Sabermetrics people are a lot like atheists. No, they are not godless souls (although they might be); it is the attitude they have towards people who do not agree with them. They do not respect that you have a differing opinion. No, you are an idiot for not believing what is obvious to them.
Try watching Brian Kenny on MLB (I can’t). He is so self-righteous about it all. And writers like Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, who pen such things as:
It is depressing to think wins still matter to some Baseball Writers Association of America voters when the measure has proven as antiquated as a cassette recorder.
“Proven?” Really? This is the same man who wrote early in the season about how happy the Mets must be with Neil Walker, and then just gave his “slash line.” No, the Mets were happy about all of his homers, not his slash line. But Davidoff left that out because it did not fit his chosen narrative. MLB Trade Rumors does the same thing; it only gives sabermetric stats, never wins or RBIs, sometimes not even strikeouts (for pitchers) or home runs.
Well guess what? — most fans care about those “meaningless” stats. And you know who else cares? — the players. Pitchers want to win games and batters want to drive in runs. If those stats are important to the players who earn them, then some geeks should not decide for the rest of us that they are unimportant.
End of rant. Now stay off my lawn!