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This is October: 2014 MLB Postseason Thread

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Just found out the Series is tied. But when KC comes to the Bay Area, they don't stand a chance.

I love it when people say stuff like this. Pretty sure KC didn't "stand a chance" in Anaheim and Baltimore, either.

The Royals were 8-2 in away interleague games this year (best record in the American League in that regard). They can win without the DH.

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"You know like baseball was meant to be played before the egg headed sabermatricians" Shut the :censored: up Tank. Durr baseballs all nerdy now back in the good ol days we used stats that didn't even judge a player individually and things were sooo much better, who needs knowledge, it's not what I grew up with so it sucks!

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It's not about "knowledge." It's about sabermetrics just telling you what you already know at best and sucking the joy out of the sport at worst. I'm not one to jump on an anti-intellectual bandwagon but cripes. Enough is enough. Yes, it has its place, but it's about time we stopped over-inflating its importance. And now that the sabermetrics movement had embraced a return to the economically suicidial dual table system? Just get the hell out of here with this crap. I'd like to see baseball still be around in twenty years, thank you very much.

I've enjoyed the hell out of this Royals team. And this Giants team to a lesser extent. When the sabermetrics people start finding a way to quantify team chemistry and clutch baseball? Call me. Until then? I'm just going to enjoy some of the best October baseball we've had in years.

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I love saber metrics, in that it is fun to evaluate players in different ways and adds more to discuss. I don't want a duel table or anything like that. I think saber metrics is a great tool but it's not the be-all end-all, it's just another great way to debate and look at baseball from my (a fan's) perspective.

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I'm not one to jump on an anti-intellectual bandwagon but cripes.

Like almost everything which is declared as such, being against sabermetrics isn't at all "anti-intellectual." In fact, in my experience lots of message boarders or radio personalities who don't know baseball all that well hide behind sabermetrics to mask their ignorance. They don't have to understand the game or even know what exactly the stats are supposed to represent, they can just say, "this guy has a higher fWAR, so you're a moron if you don't like him."

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Sabermetrics — and all statistical measures (AVG, ERA, etc.) — are great tools to help us better understand baseball past what our eyes tell us.

Let's say it's 2016 and we're sitting here debating the upcoming election. One way of gauging how things are going would be by watching the news networks — CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc. — and saying "Hillary's better with A, B, and C but Mitt's better with D, E, and F."

But that's not how we do things — we conduct public opinion polls that tell us who's doing a better job with each issue and who might be ahead in the race to 270.

It's the same with baseball — we can probably do a pretty good job of evaluating teams and players just by watching them. But metrics can give us a better idea — advanced metrics even moreso.

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Baseball stats are fascinating because from day 1 they were meant to evaluate players. And any time we acknowledge flaws and try to improve them, we find flaws in the new stuff. IN a sense we are trying to totally quantify something that is not totally quantifiable; we keep chasing it and getting closer but we will never be there. There are so many variables why a player gets X number of chances on defense, or a lot (or few) ground ball outs, etc.

Admittedly, I don't know what most of these newer stats mean. I don't know whether the models are right and I don't know how much human judgement goes into some of the metadata. I cannot name one person who has ever won the WAR crown.

Still, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that the batting and pitching "Triple Crown" stats are flawed.

  • Home Runs. Pretty good stat. Ballpark and weather impacts but no fielding.
  • Strikeouts. Pretty good stat.
  • Batting average. Very flawed stat. First it was created with no recognition that walks are "earned" by hitters, but on the belief that they were simply a result of "bad pitching". We are only recently getting into an era where walking a lot is viewed as a good thing.
  • RBI: Very flawed. Obviously a function of how many people are on base when you get up to bat. I remember thinking that as a kid and my dad correcting me with "no, it's an indication of clutch hitting." The conventional wisdom on that is turning around. Some people think there is no such thing as clutch hitting (i.e., anyone that would make the majors should not have this choking problem). I am not smart enough to know whether that's true, but there still has to be an element of luck/circumstance to RBI totals.
  • Wins: Very flawed stat. I once followed a Joe Morgan chat in which he literally said that a pitcher who wins 6-5 pitched better than one who lost 2-1 because the latter did not do enough to win. That's the problem I have with the steadfastly anti-SABR crowd. Sometimes they view stats like wins so myopically that they don't even want to listen to the circumstances surrounding them.
  • ERA: Not necessarily as flawed as AVG, RBI, and Wins, but still...You are charged an earned run if your defense has bad enough range not to even have a chance for an error. Some even think almost all outs on balls put into play are essentially luck for the pitcher. While it is true that only strikeouts and home runs are totally in the control of the pitcher/batter, I don't know if I quite buy this argument. ERA seems to be a pretty solid indicator of a good season (for starters at least).

These stats are fun. We have over 100 years of people winning these crowns. But to think they tell the whole story is naive. Anyone working in a front office making personnel decisions on these stats will not last very long.

We focus more on OBP and Slugging (OPS) because we recognize that runs are produced by getting on base and getting extra bases. And that walks are as good as singles. These are obviously not SABR stats but they add more to the "old school" stats.

I don't need to get into an argument over whether player X is better than player Y because of his WAR. Whether I am lazy or just don't have the time, I have not chosen to get into the weeds on these stats. But I also know that the above stats tell a very small part of the story.

As for team performance; I honestly don't care. We judge on wins and losses and I don't care whether the second place team does better in certain stats than the first place team. If they would just balance the schedules, there's be absolutely no point in this stuff for judging teams. Yeah, there is luck of running into a hot/cold team, but wins and losses are always going to be what matters.

Also, what the hell is a duel table?

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It's not about "knowledge." It's about sabermetrics just telling you what you already know at best and sucking the joy out of the sport at worst.

How on Earth is sabermetrics "sucking the joy out of the sport"? I'd say the lack of a salary cap (or floor), the steroid scandals, and the slow pace of games failing to attract a younger audience have done a lot more to hurt the sport than SABR.

And don't all statistics "tell you what you already know" on some level?

When the sabermetrics people start finding a way to quantify team chemistry and clutch baseball? Call me.

Traditional stats like RBIs and batting average don't do any better at quantifying intangibles like "team chemistry" than sabermetrics do. But stats of all kinds are still useful because relying on the eye test alone would produce biased and non-generalizable analysis.

Also, there actually is a sabermetric stat that attempts to quantify clutch play.

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A salary cap would do more harm to baseball than good, just like with all the other sports that use it.

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I used to wish for baseball to institute a salary cap, but now I prefer it if they didn't. If there's one good thing about the randomization created by the playoff format it's that it levels the playing field for the small markets. Also, baseball has reached a good level of parity without it. I see no reason to institute one now. I wouldn't want to see 30 teams all within 6 games of 82 wins.

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It's not about "knowledge." It's about sabermetrics just telling you what you already know at best and sucking the joy out of the sport at worst.

How on Earth is sabermetrics "sucking the joy out of the sport"?

Easy. By reducing the game to a stream of numbers. Baseball's always been a stat-heavy sport but the sabermetrics geeks will take it to such extremes that, in some cases, you can honestly question whether they've seen the games they're talking about.

I'd say the lack of a salary cap (or floor)

10-15 years ago? I would have agreed with you. Now? The Kansas City freckin Royals are playing for the World Series. Back in the early 2000s it seemed like the big markets would always be on top because they could just outspend everyone. There was no hope if you were a mid to small market team. Now? I won't say we have parity in MLB but we do have a more open field then anyone imagined we'd have with the current economic system a decade ago.

Not that it matters, really. I'm talking about sabermetrics. So that's where we're going to keep the goalposts located.

the steroid scandals, and the slow pace of games failing to attract a younger audience have done a lot more to hurt the sport than SABR.

Again, I'm talking about sabermetrics. Let's keep the conversation focused.

When the sabermetrics people start finding a way to quantify team chemistry and clutch baseball? Call me.

Traditional stats like RBIs and batting average don't do any better at quantifying intangibles like "team chemistry" than sabermetrics do. But stats of all kinds are still useful because relying on the eye test alone would produce biased and non-generalizable analysis.

I never said sabermetric stats were useless, or didn't have a place. I'm just tired of people over-inflating their importance. You see the SABR crowd getting particularly uppity about the fact that the Giants and the Royals are playing for the World Series. Well..maybe it's because the stats you claim are at the centre of baseball really aren't. Maybe there are aspects of the game you just cannot measure.

Stats, traditional or otherwise, are useful. Let's stop pretending the game revolves around them though.

Also, there actually is a sabermetric stat that attempts to quantify clutch play.

Good luck with them on that. I might as well try to measure a unicorn's horn. They're called intangibles for a reason.

And don't all statistics "tell you what you already know" on some level?

They do. Which is why I find the fawning over them as the be-all-end-all of sports analysis to be insane. Let's take a look at analytics, which is basically sabermetrics for hockey. The thing they love to push is "puck possession time" leading to wins. Well...no crap. The teams that control the puck the most will win most of the games. I don't need a stat line to tell me that. I figured that out when I was a tyke.

Just like I know that getting on base is important when it comes to trying to win a ball game. I appreciate the existence of these stats, but I'm sick of them being fawned over because it all just boils down to common sense anyway. That and, as stated above, there are certain intangibles you just can't measure.

So just sit back and enjoy the ball game. Let the stats become part of the experience. Don't let them become the experience.

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I'm not entirely sure the puck possession aspect of hockey analytics is really what the main point of that effort has been though. I think it's more about bringing exposure to it and highlighting which teams and, in turn, which players were better at possessing the puck, tilting the ice, managing to carry the puck into the zone as compared to dumping it in, and stuff like that. We may know on an intuitive level that puck possession itself is a good thing; I mean, yeah, it's better to have the puck than to...not have the puck and stuff, but this has long been a non-recorded thing. I also feel like there's more of a predicative basis behind that stat as compared to a post hoc tool. The 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings may have ultimately posted mediocre on-ice results, but their metrics indicated that they were no slouch of a team if drawn against them in a postseason series and, well, look what happened. That said, I wouldn't disagree to there being some drawbacks to them; all stats have drawbacks. The 2013-14 Devils (among others over time) rated well, but I never thought that team was really a playoff-calibre team; I still feel that way this year as well.

Also, on the note of payroll - this season saw the largest discrepancy between payroll and on-field success than we've seen at any time, possibly, in baseball history. We've seen teams like the Rays and A's making the postseason on a routine basis for several years now. I know it's probably easy for someone like me, and the team I root for, to think that a salary cap is unnecessary and everything, yada yada, but we can think a salary cap is an end-all/be-all for leveling the playoff field, and then we look over at what's happening in the NBA and, oh, doesn't really work that way. There's been high-level stratification in the NBA, basically, forever, so the salary cap (soft or hard) hasn't really fixed that problem at all, has it?

I was introduced to baseball sabermetrics several years ago and I'm certainly glad I was. I feel like my overall knowledge and appreciation for the sport has increased. During my several rants, on this site and elsewhere, this year about the faulty MLB playoff system and such, that's more of just a personal opinion rather than a sabermetric-influenced one. I know full well of the dangers of overuse of sabermetrics and how this can poison opinions, which is really the chief reason why I don't often discuss sabermetrics outside of communities that have a sabermetric basis. Unfortunately, as with many things (politics!), there are two sides of this debate and both sides tend to be overzealous and critical towards their opponent because people lack a basic ability to act with diligence and humility towards their opposite number. Go figure.

--

(I can also point to the hundreds of baseball games and hundreds of hockey games and hundreds of football games that I watch each season as proof that I, personally, don't have a life haven't allowed advanced metrics or sabermetrics or whatever the hell to poison my approach to watching and appreciating the sports that I am a fan of.)

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I think a lot of anti-advanced stats people don't like the stats getting too intelligent because at a certain point if the stats become too predictive then there is no point in watching the games or playing out a season.

Of course there's millions of variables that affect the outcomes of a season, but what fun is it to plug all of these things into your calculator and get the answer before you watch the game? It's sort of like reading a plot synopsis in total and then watching the movie.

What's the fun in debating who the best player is when a stat like WAR uses math and just gives you the answer?

I understand the value of sabermetrics and they're a useful tool, but they're not the only tool. The eyeball test is way more fun, anyways.

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Baseball stats are fascinating because from day 1 they were meant to evaluate players. And any time we acknowledge flaws and try to improve them, we find flaws in the new stuff. IN a sense we are trying to totally quantify something that is not totally quantifiable; we keep chasing it and getting closer but we will never be there.

As someone who is actively trying to build a better mouse trap through stats, I think that's one of the best ways I've heard describe the role of statistics and baseball and their limitations.

I'm not sure where this idea of sabermetric people being this group of close minded fans came from, but I can guarantee you that it couldn't be further from the truth The more you work with stats in baseball, the more you realize there is no perfect stat and never will be. So if your serious about using statistics to evaluate players, you have to be open to the idea that there could be something the stats are missing. And the only way to figure out what that something might be is by watching the game and seeing if what you are seeing matches up to the numbers.

If it doesn't it may mean the numbers need to be adjusted, or it may mean you need to rethink how you look at the game. Or it could mean both. Looking at the game through just one side of the equation won't give you the answer. If one isn't feeding into the other then your doing something wrong.

There's always going to be that rebel part of the fanbase that believes they can out think the stat guys simply by watching the game and going on what they know through experience, but the fight's over. At this point anyone who outright rejects sabermetrics isn't getting within 100 feet of any team's front office either at the MLB or Minor League level. Any team that does let someone like that into the decision making room isn't going to be relevant, or at least not for long.

For anyone keeping up with Sabermetrics or looking to get involved, the craze right now is defense. I think we've teased about as much out of offensive stats as we can, but defense is only just now being examined at the level that offense has been.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the Gold Glove going forward. If there's any major award in danger of losing relevance, I would say its that. To take a guy like Lorezno Cain who was first overall among AL outfielders in defensive WAR and not even have him as a finalist is a flat out joke. And unlike the MVP or the Cy Young award, the Gold Glove award does have a rival in the Fielding Bible award, which I think has been far better in recent years of getting it right then the Gold Glove.

At this point I think its just name value that's keeping the Gold Glove afloat, but you have to wonder how much longer that's going to last if they keep messing up such obvious decisions like having Cain as a finalist.

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Not World Series-related, but Arizona Fall League pitchers are trying to adjust to a 20-second "shot clock."

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/players-in-afl-struggling-with-adjustment-to-new--pace-of-game--measures-110749754.html

Here's the skinny:

-Pitchers don't necessarily need to throw the ball by the time the 20 seconds are up. Just starting the wind-up is fine.

-Failure to start a wind-up results in an automatic ball for the batter.

-Batters must have at least 1 foot inside the batter's box in those 20 seconds, unless either (1)a foul tip, (2)time called for a batter/catcher, or (3)the pitcher wanting some chin music from the batter occurs.

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Not World Series-related, but Arizona Fall League pitchers are trying to adjust to a 20-second "shot clock."

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/players-in-afl-struggling-with-adjustment-to-new--pace-of-game--measures-110749754.html

Here's the skinny:

-Pitchers don't necessarily need to throw the ball by the time the 20 seconds are up. Just starting the wind-up is fine.

-Failure to start a wind-up results in an automatic ball for the batter.

-Batters must have at least 1 foot inside the batter's box in those 20 seconds, unless either (1)a foul tip, (2)time called for a batter/catcher, or (3)the pitcher wanting some chin music from the batter occurs.

Its also effectively Bud Selig's last act as commissioner and I think potentially the best thing he's ever done as commissioner.

Time length in game's hasn't gotten ridiculous. Its been ridiculous for awhile now. For the non baseball fans who constantly moan and complain about it, while I can't say I totally agree with them, I can't say they don't have a legitimate point either.

Something has been needed to be done about this for years and while it seems to be coming well after the fact that it should have been addressed, better late then never.

I'm sure there will be an adjustment period for both pitchers and batters if institutionalized at the MLB level and I think the AFL is being used more as a testing ground to work out some of the kinks. But there's no excuse for a major league hitter or pitcher to not be ready to hit or pitch when stepping into the box or onto the rubber and it seems like that's the case now with almost every third pitch.

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Baseball stats are fascinating because from day 1 they were meant to evaluate players. And any time we acknowledge flaws and try to improve them, we find flaws in the new stuff. IN a sense we are trying to totally quantify something that is not totally quantifiable; we keep chasing it and getting closer but we will never be there.

As someone who is actively trying to build a better mouse trap through stats, I think that's one of the best ways I've heard describe the role of statistics and baseball and their limitations.

I'm not sure where this idea of sabermetric people being this group of close minded fans came from, but I can guarantee you that it couldn't be further from the truth The more you work with stats in baseball, the more you realize there is no perfect stat and never will be. So if your serious about using statistics to evaluate players, you have to be open to the idea that there could be something the stats are missing. And the only way to figure out what that something might be is by watching the game and seeing if what you are seeing matches up to the numbers.

If it doesn't it may mean the numbers need to be adjusted, or it may mean you need to rethink how you look at the game. Or it could mean both. Looking at the game through just one side of the equation won't give you the answer. If one isn't feeding into the other then your doing something wrong.

There's always going to be that rebel part of the fanbase that believes they can out think the stat guys simply by watching the game and going on what they know through experience, but the fight's over. At this point anyone who outright rejects sabermetrics isn't getting within 100 feet of any team's front office either at the MLB or Minor League level. Any team that does let someone like that into the decision making room isn't going to be relevant, or at least not for long.

For anyone keeping up with Sabermetrics or looking to get involved, the craze right now is defense. I think we've teased about as much out of offensive stats as we can, but defense is only just now being examined at the level that offense has been.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the Gold Glove going forward. If there's any major award in danger of losing relevance, I would say its that. To take a guy like Lorezno Cain who was first overall among AL outfielders in defensive WAR and not even have him as a finalist is a flat out joke. And unlike the MVP or the Cy Young award, the Gold Glove award does have a rival in the Fielding Bible award, which I think has been far better in recent years of getting it right then the Gold Glove.

At this point I think its just name value that's keeping the Gold Glove afloat, but you have to wonder how much longer that's going to last if they keep messing up such obvious decisions like having Cain as a finalist.

That reminded me of the Triple Crown.

It's not an "award" per se but it's something that seems have plummeted in being a big deal. When Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, the response was surprisingly quiet. Growing up, I always knew the last winner was Yaz in 1967. And it seemed anytime someone got into about June in the top 3 in each category. we got a little excited. Then they would not win it.

So it had me wondering whether the ever-changing world of stats and evaluation had anything to do with that. When you look at the names of who has won the Triple Crown, he's in some pretty rare company. And let's face it; even a SABR stat-head has to acknowledge that the Triple Crown is an indicator of a pretty damn good season.

But since RBI and AVG are so flawed, maybe we don't care anymore? Of course, I always had the suspicion that part of the reason this was not a huge deal was because it came about so late. My recollection is that the Triple Crown was not even on the radar until into August and then he came on strong. More build up may have made it a bigger deal.

(As an aside, the link to TC winners also lists "pitching triple crown" winners. Not as exclusive. I knew it existed but had no idea that Johan Santana won it in 2006)

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Joe Maddon opts out of Tampa Bay. Hello Dodgers or Cubs.

Cubs sounded like they're very pleased with Renteria, so I doubt he ends up there, at least as a full on manager.

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