Tuesday, June 19, 2007

RBIs and sportswriters

I read Jim Souhan's article in the Pioneer Press yesterday and this quote made me laugh.

"Manager Ron Gardenhire has tried Mike Redmond and Jason Kubel in the No. 6 hole. Redmond puts together good at-bats, but his career-high in RBI is 28. This isn't going to work for the long haul."

Why does it matter what Redmond's career high RBI's are? The amount of RBI's is so dependent on where he bats in the lineup and his teammates that his past RBI totals just don't mattter.

If he was in the 6 hole all season long and had 500 to 600 AB he would easily double or probably triple that total just by being a warm body in the lineup.
I wonder why sportswriters so want to hold on to their old perceptions of baseball? What is the psychology of this.

I believe it has to be a fear of math. It takes some understanding of math and logic to understand how much RBIs are team dependent. If all of your life you are told that batting average and RBIs are what make a good hitter than it will be difficult to change your mind.

As a child I believed ther was a Santa Claus until I saw my uncle dressing up as Santa. I saw the evidence that there was no Santa.

It is not so easy to see the evidence that RBIs are not a good way to evaluate a hitter. You can't just see someone "putting on a Santa suit." You actually have to be proactive and look at the mathematical evidence.

Many people don't like math and don't trust statistics because they do not understand them and feel that they can be twisted to show any facts.

Its too bad because baseball is the one sport where math and statistics can really tell us who the best players are.

I have a feeling that it will be the next generation of sportswriters and TV analysts who will start looking behind the traditional batting numbers of RBIs and average. It will take time but as more and more generations grow up with computers and statistics more people will have a better understanding of the important statistics in baseball.

Joe Morgan can't be a TV analyst forever. He hates computers and is basically Amish when it comes to technology.


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