Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dumbing Down Baseball Analysis?

An article published recently in Slate argues that TV analysts for baseball are, well, just plain stupid.

I tend to (alas) agree and think most analysts make too much of largely inconsequential data (like batting average with runners in scoring position, RBIs, fielding percentage, etc.). And they continue to display largely irrelevant statistics (post-season instead of regular season batting average, for example) instead of good analysis on matchups, managerial strategy, fielding and pitching adjustments, etc. In general, I want more comments based on sabermetrics and fewer from old players who know in their gut how the game should be played. In other words, more Obama, less Bush.

But I must admit, I did like one comment from Tim McCarver during the NLCS. After Brett Myers threw a pitch behind Manny's head, Myers walked off the field apologizing, indicating that the pitch had slipped. Carver correctly noted that he should have instead said nothing when the Dodgers complained. He was right. And if I were doing the commentary I would have added, "In fact, he should have told the whining Dodgers, 'Shut it, or the next one will be in your ear.'"


SM Sprenger said...

I agree totally, which is why I long ago stopped watching sports on television. it's mind-numbing--especially football. But post-season statistics irrelevant? what about Mr. October?

Corry Cropper said...

Not all post season stats are irrelevant. Some are though. One example: the commentators kept talking about Jacoby Ellsbury leading the RedSox in RBIs coming out of the division series. He had a bloop single that plated a few runs but was hitting so poorly that Francona eventually benched him. Quoting that stat in that situation gave an erroneous picture of Ellsbury's performance. In general, commentators give way too much value to RBIs as some sort of predictive statistic.

Re. Reggie Jackson, there were enough stats, built up over enough post-season series to justify that nickname. But basing comments in game 3 of the division series on "playoff stats" is ridiculous.