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  1. Richard

    February 07, 2013 09:16 AM

    “You know these guys. They get all frothy-mouthed each time a new acronym is invented to try and quantify value, yet show little or no reaction when a difficult doubleplay is executed, or a well-thrown pitch is fought off by a batter down in the count. They feed off each other, creating a culture more hell-bent in arguing a debatable point than reflecting what you actually saw.”


    Who are these people who “show little or no reaction when a difficult doubleplay is executed, or a well-thrown pitch is fought off by a batter down in the count”? Other than non-existent, that is.

    No one ever thought Jack Morris was a future hall-of-famer when he was active.

  2. JM

    February 07, 2013 09:54 AM

    Bill, just want to say thanks for not putting up another tidbit about the state of the Phiilies dubious offseason moves or the glut of relievers they have. As spring training approaches(thank god)I find myself deploring the prospect of the next “what to expect” article, that has been already published 47 times before. I know Douche Young is fat and that he was a prospect prior to throwing all sorts of things at umpires. I know Halladay’s health is a big part of the Phillies season. Of course the Phillies will rely on the former all-stars and MVPs to compete in a stacked NL East. Tell me something interesting. Tell me that Chooch got his aderall(sp) Rx approved by baseball. Tell me Freddy G is off the juice but put on 20 lbs of muscle anyway. Tell me that our low & high A ball teams actually have some interesting players, not to trade, but to, gasp, actually develop into replacements for our aging core. Please Tell me something NEW!!! or just something completely random about my favorite player, JMJ, and his latest mermaid sighting…

  3. Ryan

    February 07, 2013 09:54 AM

    “No one ever thought Jack Morris was a future hall-of-famer when he was active.”


  4. Richard

    February 07, 2013 10:06 AM

    Ryan, I obviously exaggerate, but I maintain that he was not generally thought to have a strong case. And his initial support, in his first years on the ballot, was not substantial. This is only worth mentioning because the narrative has become that “stats” guys have harmed Morris’ candidacy, when in fact, the reaction of boneheaded voters against stats guys is what has bolstered his candidacy. (Just as, in my view, it was reaction *against* stats guys that resulted in Miguel Cabrera’s MVP last year. Decades ago, voters would have been able to recognize that Trout was the MVP, and wouldn’t have resented the attempts to use advanced metrics to demonstrate it.)

  5. TomG

    February 07, 2013 10:27 AM

    It’s probably pretty clear from my comments on this blog that I myself am not exactly an advanced sabermetrician, but I nevertheless found Donnellon’s argument, such as it is, to be truly bizarre. Not only does it feature multiple straw men (Richard above notes just one: Donnellon’s fantasy that stats foax are incapable of enjoying the game on a more basic naked eye-based level), it’s really unclear what his argument even is. It appears to be aimed at the rise of the use of advanced stats in the past few decades; but then people have been tracking ERA for quite some time and yet that’s his first smoking-gun example of someone not seeing the forest for the trees (of advanced stats)? That someone once adduced J. Morris’s ERA as evidence that he’s not HoF-worthy? Really?

    But it gets bizarre-er: Cliff Lee’s problem last year was that he “didn’t pitch to the scoreboard”? (An argument, Donnellon claims, that Morris might make, while actually making it himself.) It seems to me that if you (Lee) are given a nice lead and blow it – as LEE did do a couple times last year – a better argument could be made that your problem is that you are pitching to the scoreboard: “O, hey, I got me a 3-run lead here – why not just take a bit off the ol’ fastball & groove a few right down the center of the plate? I can afford it.” (N.B.: I don’t think this is what Lee did, nor that this itself is a particularly convincing argument; it just makes more sense than the one Donnellon advances, because his makes none.)

    If you want to argue about “pitching to the scoreboard”, I’ll take Lee pitching 10 scoreless innings against the Giants because the Phils had managed to get him zero runs – because it’s waaaay harder to pitch to a scoreboard of goose-eggs than it is to a scoreboard on which you’ve been spotted 5 runs. (Morris’s 1991 game 7 performance would be yet another example of a good (and difficult) job of pitching to the scoreboard in this sense; but people who make the argument that Morris is somehow being “punished” because he “pitched to the scoreboard” obviously don’t mean it that way.)

    Donnellon’s final example – that Schilling used a laptop to track things that no other pitcher was noticing in order to get batters out – also seems to undermine his main point that these non-naked eye things are barely worth tracking statistically.

    As I said, Donnellon’s argument is just really, really weird and kinda difficult to make any sense of.

  6. JM

    February 07, 2013 10:31 AM

    My unimportant, though impactful, view on Jack Morris. When I was a kid in the 80’s, I pitched in little league, and I never once pretended to be Jack Morris. Scott, Ryan, Gooden, Clemens, Stewart, and yes…kent tekulve (the sidearm thing was pretty wicked). If you don’t inspire kids to imitate you, how GREAT are you? Hall of Fame should include mytique as well as good statistical comparisons. This is why the “Babe” is still considered the greatest ever, even when most of his records have been eclipsed.

  7. agam22

    February 07, 2013 10:31 AM

    As a hockey fan I really love that he throws in +/-, one of the most ridiculed and disrespected stats in any sport.

    I was also dumb enough to read the comments online, someone blamed Amaro’s use of sabermetrics for bad contracts given out by the Phillies. Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Jonathon Papelbon, stat-geek darlings!

  8. LTG

    February 07, 2013 11:21 AM

    Yeah, I was thrown by the +/- reference as well. Hockey stats are not very, well, advanced. But what I know of attempts to introduce rigor into statistical analysis in hockey leads me to think that +/- is like batting average or worse.

    Richard, it was not obvious that you were exaggerating, since you were retelling a common myth. And Caple just cited counter-examples in his article on WAR. You are certainly correct that the divisiveness over Morris has increased due to the divisiveness over advanced stats. His vote totals show that he had decent initial support but not the rabid support he has today. The increase in votes correlates with the publicity of sabermetrics. But that’s not to say he wasn’t considered a sure-fire hall of famer by a significant portion of the BBWAA all along.

    Does anyone believe that Donnellon naked-eyed Blyleven in his prime, given what he said? That article is such gibberish.

  9. Richard

    February 07, 2013 11:36 AM

    Well, I’d think the words “No one ever” are pretty clear signifiers of exaggeration, but fair enough.

    I maintain that his decent initial support would have eventually tailed off into nothing without the combination of resentment about sabermetrics and moralizing about steroids. Though of course this can’t be proven. But as TomG notes, it’s absolutely hilarious that SD uses ERA, of all stats, as his bludgeon against stats geeks. As a group, even the BBWAA would eventually, under normal circumstances, have been able to figure out that his 3.91 ERA is simply not impressive.

  10. LTG

    February 07, 2013 11:48 AM

    Nor his 3.71 ERA, if we grant Donnellon’s complaint about Morris’s last two years.

  11. LTG

    February 07, 2013 11:50 AM

    “No one ever” in many contexts will signify exaggeration, but not in a context where that claim is oft repeated at face value.

  12. hk

    February 07, 2013 12:06 PM

    Actually, Morris’s ERA prior to his last 2 seasons was 3.73 and his career ERA was 3.90, but so much for Donnellon’s math. I’m not sure why Donnellon would even add the sub-par last 2 seasons comment to his argument about Morris. I assume that most players – Koufax is one exception – ended their careers below their peak levels. For example, at the end of the 1985 season, Steve Carlton had a career ERA of 3.04. His 1986 and 1987 seasons plus 9 2/3 IP in 1988 were so bad that they dropped his career ERA to 3.22.

  13. Brad

    February 07, 2013 03:43 PM

    I’m still trying to figure out which games Donnellon’s eyes told him that Cliff Lee blew “substantial” leads in. “Substantial” sounds like 3 runs or more to me. On June 10th Cliff had a 3 run lead against Baltimore and lost it. In his next start against Toronto he left the game with a 1 run lead and a runner on base. Qualls came in and allowed that runner to score and the Phils went on to lose. So depending on how you want to count the Toronto game, Cliff Lee either blew one or two 3 run leads all season.

  14. Scott G

    February 07, 2013 04:29 PM

    I also wonder how many non-Phillies games he gets to watch in there entirety on a daily basis. My guess is that he probably doesn’t even watch 100% of all Phillies innings played.

    I’m glad his eyes can judge things they don’t even see.

  15. Kevin

    February 08, 2013 03:05 PM

    According to my “naked eye” Derrell Thomas should be in the Hall of Fame, Bob Boone was a speedster who hit an inside the park home run, and Mike Schmidt could do nothing but pop up and strike out.

    I don’t think that’s a good thing to go on. When it comes to the sheer math, the difference between hitting .291 (all star candidate) and .250 (candidate for the bench) is an average of 1 hit per week for a regular player. The naked eye can’t discern that…

  16. Phillie697

    February 11, 2013 01:09 PM

    Apparently, our love for JPGs of awesome plays must mean we don’t like watching baseball; we just like stats. Yep. That must be it.

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