While that sounds entirely too simple, it probably is. However, it’s the best solution.
We know that everyone can find a set of numbers to fit their argument. The beauty of baseball statistics is that almost any statistical category can be used for any argument. However, statistics like VORP are attempting to make it so that journalists have no excuse to make stupid arguments.
Baseball has always been a game of traditions, so it’s only natural that the statistical revolution is treated sometimes like a black person at a KKK convention. The smart people know that racism is wrong, but there’s a group of it who is contrary and is pretty vocal with their opinions. (No, I am not trying to equate the two)
Cheating has always been a part of baseball. Spitballs, pine tar, the hidden ball trick; you can go on and on about the traditions of cheating. Steroids were no different. Bud Selig did nothing to disprove that baseball doesn’t like cheating–because cheating is engraved in the game–by letting the players in the Mitchell Report off the hook. And to take it a step further, look at the owners colluding against Barry Bonds. According to reports, they are prepared to pay whatever fine comes against them for collusion. Cheating will always be a part of baseball, even though the smart people know it’s wrong and that if baseball wanted to be taken seriously, they’d actually attempt to punish cheaters.
It’s the same way with sabermetrics. It’s an unconventional, to many, way to look at baseball. However, with the amount of resources and numbers at our disposal, we have a pretty good idea that the players who are performing on the field are the ones with the best numbers and VORP.
The baseball writers who have grown up with sabermetrics in a majority of their lives are helping bring statistical analysis to the forefront. Yes, there will always be a sector that doesn’t agree with it, but for the most part, the anti-sabermetric views are coming from the veterans of the sportswriting world.
While there are doubtlessly sexier options than waiting, it seems like waiting is the best option. As some nontraditional statistics have worked their way into the mainstream
But what I think doesn’t dawn on most people is that to embrace statistical analysis, one doesn’t have to completely discount the “scout” theory.
“High school numbers really don’t mean much, so it’s the scouts with the best eyes who help teams succeed there. Those same scouts, though, tend to be so against statistics because of an irrational fear that they could be replaced. Are scouts as imperative as they used to be, or as prevalent? No, and with pretty good reason: teams have gotten smarter and understand that scouts tend to be a lot more fallible than a century of history interpreting numbers in a certain manner,” Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports said.
There will always be a place for scouts in baseball, it’s just that statistical analysis is now being used to actually help those scouts do their job, yet it’s being viewed as an intruder onto sacred ground.
If more people realize that statistical analysis is here to stay and is a–very important–tool, then I think much of the hate will dissipate. And anyway, that hate that is being spouted, many is from people who admit that they know nothing about it in the first place. Does that make any sense?
Slowly, non-traditional stats are creeping into the mainstream, and as we go, it’s inevitable that more will make their way into common baseball conversation. While it’s unlikely that statistics like VORP will ever appear next to the box scores in the newspaper, it’s reasonable to expect that sabermetrics will become more known. But hopefully with that inevitable growth, comes an embracing of sorts.
Oh yeah, we should Fire Joe Morgan too.