Blog Comments

  1. glunn's Avatar
    It seems to me that Brad must have put a lot of effort into this blog,and a few of the responses have shown little respect for that effort.

    Most of our members are not professional baseball writers, but we want to encourage people to be creative and put their ideas out there to be discussed. When another member is clearly trying his best to provide an interesting blog, please respect the effort that went into it and try to be constructive in your criticism.

    Personally, a lot of this blog exceeded my statistical vocabulary, but the parts that I did understand were very interesting to me, particularly the analysis about how it's not easy to acquire Gagne level middle infielders. I am grateful to Brad for his hard work and hope that he posts more soon.
    Updated 03-05-2013 at 02:14 PM by glunn
  2. John Bonnes's Avatar
    It seems to me you were very clear on your criteria:

    "From there, I included only players who could match or exceed Gagne's career fWAR, his 5-year-peak fWAR, or are active players with three seasons greater than 3.0 fWAR (pro-rated based on how many seasons the player has actually played). I call this the Gagne Threshold."

    Was the 3rd Twins player Bartlett?
  3. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim H
    Brad, I owe you an apology as well. I guess it seems to me that WAR is the new hot stat, and it is clear far too many don't understand its limitations or even acknowledge that it might have some.

    Many of us are drawn to baseball in part because of stats and their historical importance to baseball. I enjoy reading well researched stat based stories. I didn't mean to imply your story was lacking in those areas. But I will say that I don't have much faith in conclusions based on WAR. For all the reasons above, and maybe a few I didn't get around to stating.

    And the general premise of the article. Yes, the Twins have not had many outstanding middle infielders. A few at 2nd, headed by Carew and Knoblach. I remember Versalles as well. 1965 was special, he deserved the MVP award. Gagne and Smalley are really the only other shortstops that were noteworthy for more than a season or 2.
    No need to apologize at all! I appreciate the discourse and I am definitely starting to think about other potential ways to follow up this same idea.
  4. Jim H's Avatar
    Brad, I owe you an apology as well. I guess it seems to me that WAR is the new hot stat, and it is clear far too many don't understand its limitations or even acknowledge that it might have some.

    Many of us are drawn to baseball in part because of stats and their historical importance to baseball. I enjoy reading well researched stat based stories. I didn't mean to imply your story was lacking in those areas. But I will say that I don't have much faith in conclusions based on WAR. For all the reasons above, and maybe a few I didn't get around to stating.

    And the general premise of the article. Yes, the Twins have not had many outstanding middle infielders. A few at 2nd, headed by Carew and Knoblach. I remember Versalles as well. 1965 was special, he deserved the MVP award. Gagne and Smalley are really the only other shortstops that were noteworthy for more than a season or 2.
  5. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    The calculations to arrive at WAR are sure to be refined over time, but I think it has clear value.

    It appears that MI is an ongoing issue for all MLB teams. An excellent fielding SS who can hit well is sadly rare. I suppose it's helpful to know the Twins aren't the only team struggling at MI.

    Gagne was special. A guy you could really count on.
    And some of us remember Zoilo Versalles. He was fun to watch.
  6. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Jim - I apologize for the insinuation that you had attacked me personally. I responded to two thoughts at the same time, which was lazy and irresponsible. I think your original argument and subsequent follow-ups are logical and well-reasoned. I completely understand why you do not like WAR and I can fully appreciate that.

    You make some great points about the fielding component and that is definitely where WAR can get a bit fuzzy. I would agree with your point about positioning as well. I can't say for sure that UZR is accurate. For me, WAR is the best measure that we have to compare a player like Greg Gagne to someone like say, Rafael Furcal. If something better comes along, I'll gladly use that instead.

    Wise One - Fair enough. I thought this through carefully and thought it made sense. Obviously, my work is always going to make the most sense to me. If I failed here, then I failed. I can accept that.
  7. Jim H's Avatar
    One last thought on WAR. A major component of WAR is UZR. I dislike UZR because I believe the whole concept backing UZR is flawed. UZR gives a grade to every play a fielder makes. That grade is based on where the ball is caught. There are adjustments based on how hard the ball is hit and the handness of the batter. The problem with the concept is that where the ball is hit has no real correlation to how difficult the play is. That depends on where the fielder started from. Fielders position themselves differently for every hitter, often making further adjustments based on the pitcher, the pitch, the count, the number outs, the score, etc.

    The whole idea that a ball hit to a particular part of the field has the same difficulity no matter who the batter is just wrong. Clearly Thome and Revere would be positioned entirely differently even though they are both left handed hitters.

    There, I hope you understand where I coming from, even if I am a old, cranky man.
  8. The Wise One's Avatar
    You would not get "criticized" if you worked on your writing before you put it out there. Run it by someone before you publish. Then you do not have to apoligize for putting out ill defined ideas.
  9. Jim H's Avatar
    I am sorry you perceive it as a personnal attach. But using a one number to compare players playing different positions from different eras has so much margin for error in it as to be almost completely meaningless. At least that is my perception.

    You did say in the original post that you did not know how WAR was calculated. Now that is quite a bit different from not wanting to explain it because it is complicated. You also said there at least 3 different versions of WAR with strikingly different numbers. So there is no standard way to calculate it. You picked one because-why?

    This is the reason I have trouble with these new stats. You are taking or perhaps asking other people, to take on faith that these stats really mean much and the calculations actually lead to what they purport to represent. The problem is they are taking the original stats(which all have flaws) weighing them in some porportion which might distort them even more, perhaps leaving out stats that might even be more useful and creating one number. Now I understand why people use them, and I appreciate your disclaimer. But other than as fun and simple way to look at and compare players, it isn't very useful. It is also likely to be very misleading.

    Finally again, I am not attacking you personally. But I really think if you are or anyone is going to use these new stats, they better understand them, completely. They also better be able to defend them, because I feel they often lead to some very misleading conclusions about various players.
  10. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    A couple things.

    I do know how WAR is calculated and I do understand how it works. I said I couldn't explain it, but maybe I should have simply written that I won't explain it. I chose not to explain WAR because it would have doubled the length of this post. I did want to address the concept of WAR and explain why I use it. I find issues with the stat, and I was very up front about that. However, I stand by its use and I think it is a good tool to evaluate players. I can understand why some would prefer to use a stat without fully understanding how it works, especially a stat as complicated as WAR. Thus, my toothbrush example.

    Also, I think this measure makes good sense and I apologize if I did not explain it better. Basically, I wanted to find players who had careers similar to Gagne's or peaks similar to Gagne's or who seemed to be on an equal or better career path to Gagne. In this way, I was able to discover just how few players actually reach the level of a player that I don't think many realized was as special as he was.

    Finally, when we get to a point in society where we can seek to understand things better rather than attack other people for their ideas, we will have a much better Twins site and a much better society. I can handle criticism and I am happy to respond to it. I know there are flaws in my logic at times and I am working to be a better communicator. However, there are good and bad ways to frame an argument. If you find something you don't like about my information, please tell me. It isn't just about me either. I see plenty of people on this site who get major criticism for their ideas or ideals. Maybe that is just the way the internet works, and there is nothing that can be done about it. I will say, no one wants to feel personally attacked and no one should be personally attacked on a baseball website.
    Updated 03-02-2013 at 12:13 PM by Brad Swanson
  11. The Wise One's Avatar
    It is as good as tool as the one Thyrlos designed for starting pitchers.
  12. The Wise One's Avatar
    "Better than Gagne" using war. Accumulaed WAR? average WAR/year? Did better one time than than Gagne ever did? This article makes as little sense as what the guy who used to post on Yahoo wrote.
  13. Jim H's Avatar
    Let's talk WAR for a bit. WAR is not a perfect stat. WAR has major limitations. The fact that three different sites have their own version of WAR and they do not match up is troubling. All that being said, I like WAR. In my opinion, WAR is the best way to look at the overall value of a player and compare that value to other players. In addition, the comparisons translate to past eras, which is very useful when looking at players from the 80s and today, like I did here. WAR includes offense, defense and baserunning. Many do not trust the defensive metrics, but I don't trust your eyes.

    I couldn't tell you how WAR is calculated. Think about all the things you use on a daily basis that you would have no idea how to construct, create or compute. I use an electric toothbrush a few times a day and I have no clue how to put one of those together. Does that mean I shouldn't use it? I don't think so. I trust people who put more time into innovation to create things that I do not need to understand or create on my own, but still plan to use. WAR is one of those things for me.
    I find it troubling that people will use a stat that they do not understand. How can you say it is the best way to compare players when you don't understand how it is created? People on this site argue about stats and their sigificance all the time. And that is about stats that they understand.

    People use WAR because it is easy to use. The idea is that somebody can take a bunch of stats, weigh them according to the value THEY PERCEIVE them to have, and then combine them into one number that allows you to compare players from disparate eras playing different positions with roles that have changed over the years, and actually have that number mean something? All that and you don't even know what stats the various sites are using and what weight they are giving to each stat.

    WAR isn't really a stat. It is a convenient fiction that allows people to do some things that would be difficult to do with real stats.
  14. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    That's a classic case of bad chart labeling. The 273 is his career number, the 245 is his 2004-2012 number. I just used Mauer's career era for the second one. I should update that!
  15. h2oface's Avatar
    Fun read............ one thing.......... you have Eric Byrnes hitting 273 IFFB in 3478 PA's on one chart, and then have him hitting only (only?) 245 IFFB'S for his career in the next chart....... so as they sing on SNL........ "What's up with that?"
    Updated 02-27-2013 at 10:47 AM by h2oface
  16. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    Thank you, Brad, for a very interesting article on a very strange stat.
    Get some rest.
  17. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    Nice article. That was good and I shared the info on Facebook for peeps. That's pretty rare for me to do that from something around here.
  18. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    That's just sound strategy.
  19. gil4's Avatar
    My first guesses were Baker or Pavano (the elbow looks either old or injured) but the glove brand didn't match either one.

    I'm waiting for a double points special so I can get twice as much of the nothing I could normally get.
  20. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Thank you! However, gil4 is correct. A billion points to you! Save those points.

    Still photos of pitchers throwing are crazy. His elbow is not in a natural position.
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