Hey, Redleg Nation!!

It’s not every day that we get to return to doing something that we enjoy, but thanks to Chad and the editors of the Redleg Nation staff, I’m able to return to writing for the Redleg Nation blog.

The Redleg Nation has come so far since its inception four years ago, and it’s positioned to keep moving forward in this new and increasingly competitive medium of sportswriting.

My interest lies in seeing baseball through a historical perspective. There have been many eras of baseball, and as timeless as the game may be in our hearts, there’s been lots of ways to build winning baseball teams. These methods have changed over the years and what I enjoy most is attempting to see things through this historical perspective.

I bought my first baseball analysis book while in the third grade in 1970; a book called “Player Win Averages” (by Eldon Mills) which had formulas for awarding and penalizing players for performance at specific times during a game. Mills specifically analyzed the 1969 World Series (Orioles-Mets) and I’ve been hooked on player/team analysis ever since.

I loved baseball stats so much I even wrote Seymour Siwoff of Elias Sports Bureau for a job back in 1982, and was politely rebuffed, with the comment that careers in sports statistics were quite limited. If only I had heard of Bill James, who had already started self-publishing his own baseball analysis books at the time…

Anyway, we’ll agree and disagree….I love sabermetrics, but I also believe in the roles of scouts on a team, and, contrary to sabermetric thought, I do think there’s something important in the such things as lineup construction, clutch hitting, and the ability to score and drive in runs. I’m exceedingly glad that defensive analysis is coming around…for I do think the home run era is coming to an end and we’ll be seeing a metamorphosis in how baseball is played.

Meanwhile, please comment and share your thoughts and feelings. There’s usually some degree of truth in most everything we say….

4 Responses

  1. RiverCity Redleg

    Looking at the 2009 Top Commenters list, is it appropriate to say welcome “back”.

    Seriously though, I enjoy seeing all of the statistical analysis and look forward to reading your posts. However, there is alot more to baseball than what the numbers tell you. They should be a good starting point when evaluating a player, and not the final word (as you allude to in your post).

  2. Chad Dotson

    Thanks for reminding me, RCR. I’ve removed Steve from the Top Commenters competition. You’ve now moved up to number 11!

    And welcome back, Steve.

  3. Steve Price

    RCR,

    I suppose I see the statistical analysis from the opposite view….I see the scouts as being the starting point since they’re watching physical ability and skills…whether they’re waning, improving, or if there’s been a change.

    I look at statistical analysis contributing on three fronts:

    1) Is the player converting the natural abilities into results?

    2) Is the scout good at grading natural talent and skills degradation/improvement

    3) Statistical probability based on previous examples from other similar players with similar skills and/or proven trends of the career statistical “curve” of the player in question

    Most would agree with the first two…however, those locked predominantly into the scouting mindset give players like Jacque Jones and Darnell McDonald extra chances in spring training they don’t deserve based on reputation, while not giving opportunities to players such as Danny Dorn who need a chance to prove themselves.

    The third one is a little more abstract and hard to swallow since it suggests that heartstrings sometimes be cut…but, most everything in life (except for baseball scouts) rely on statistical probability, whether it’s insurance, interest rates, amortizations, business plans, contracts, warranties, and blackjack.

    Going against probability is relying on hope…and there are definitely times a player goes outside the “expected” and plays well…however, these guys are usually either exceptionally gifted players who already have previously shown that aptititude or they fortunately caught lightning in a bottle. Counting on lightning striking twice probably won’t happen, and that’s why teams do need to use probability (statistical) analysis as part of their overall player development plan.

    Anyway, as I did mention, I believe other things matter, and as we learn to measure them better they can be more easily quantified, too.

    However, there’s nothing better than making a great story or a great memory out of someone like Hal King homering to start a big second half Reds comeback…and Hal didn’t have much working for him probablilty speaking back in 1973.