• Gleeman and the Geek, Ep 87: Opening Day

    John and Aaron talk about loving Opening Day at the ballpark and on the couch, the Minnesota Twins' lowest expectations ever, moving Joe Mauer up and Brian Dozier down in the batting order, what to do with Justin Morneau, appreciating the greatness of Johan Santana, bullpen and bench usage issues, finding what you need on Ticket King, exactly how bad the rotation can get, and why baseball is so damn comforting. Here are:




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    This article was originally published in blog: Gleeman and the Geek, Ep 87: Opening Day started by John Bonnes
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      Regarding the “discussion” at about 30 minutes into the podcast: I really get tired of so-called sabremetricians taking a stronger “I know more about this so I am the smarter baseball fan” attitude than they should. In reality, smart baseball fans THINK CRITICALLY and thoughtfully digest different lines of baseball thought. Anyone who largely sees every run and every at bat as equally important across a season (i.e., the Pythagorean) has decreased credibility with me. A two run go-ahead single in the top of the 8th is just not equivalent to a single in a 12-2 game. If you argue that with me I might have to start “checking my email.” Let’s not forget that the pythag is based on CORRELATION, not causation. That is, there is a RELATIONSHIP between runs scored/given up and wins—that not all that surprising if you think about it. There is also a relationship between ice cream sales and temperature—does that mean if people would have bought more ice cream in Minneapolis we could’ve had a warmer opening day?

      To overemphasize the “hard core smart person” side of sabremetrics and de-emphasize its correlational nature that inherently includes varying levels of imprecision (i.e., the third place Angels had the highest WAR in their division last year) signals a higher level of critical thought is needed. Make no mistake sabremetric analysis contributes to our knowledge of the great game, but I would appreciate it if some people could broaden their perspective and reduce their sabremetric elitism. Blast away all of you that are smarter than me.
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      (Edited and Deleted this Post)
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      Sorry everyone, that last post came off a little more half-cocked than I intended. I am just arguing for a little more perspective and balance than a strict adherence to a "this many runs equals this many wins", especially since this is theoretical and cannot be played out in real life. The Twins had a higher team WAR than the Orioles last year---in light of this variability in the accuracy of WAR I find it hard to get too worked up about the theoretical discussion about how many runs it is costing us to have Mauer bat 2nd or 3rd. Critical, game determining at-bats happen at all points of the batting lineup throughout a season (e.g.., Parmalee's at bat yesterday). FWIW, I would've rather had Mauer batting in Parmalee's slot yesterday.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      But you can't move Mauer around based on every at bat......so the goal is to get him the most at bats in each game as possible. Not sure how that is even up for debate, really. It just seems obvious on its face, let alone when you look at the math*

      *math is for predicting the likely future, not the certain future, of course it does not always work, again, not sure how that is up for debate either.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      *math is for predicting the likely future, not the certain future, of course it does not always work, again, not sure how that is up for debate either.
      This is the key. You can't predict aberrant behavior. You can only take the information you have on hand and make the best decisions using that information.

      And really, that's all sabermetrics are... I've never seen anyone claim them to be infallible. All they are is a tool to improve the mean and maximize the talent you have available as a team.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDTwinkie View Post
      Regarding the “discussion” at about 30 minutes into the podcast: I really get tired of so-called sabremetricians taking a stronger “I know more about this so I am the smarter baseball fan” attitude than they should. In reality, smart baseball fans THINK CRITICALLY and thoughtfully digest different lines of baseball thought. Anyone who largely sees every run and every at bat as equally important across a season (i.e., the Pythagorean) has decreased credibility with me. A two run go-ahead single in the top of the 8th is just not equivalent to a single in a 12-2 game. If you argue that with me I might have to start “checking my email.” Let’s not forget that the pythag is based on CORRELATION, not causation. That is, there is a RELATIONSHIP between runs scored/given up and wins—that not all that surprising if you think about it. There is also a relationship between ice cream sales and temperature—does that mean if people would have bought more ice cream in Minneapolis we could’ve had a warmer opening day?

      To overemphasize the “hard core smart person” side of sabremetrics and de-emphasize its correlational nature that inherently includes varying levels of imprecision (i.e., the third place Angels had the highest WAR in their division last year) signals a higher level of critical thought is needed. Make no mistake sabremetric analysis contributes to our knowledge of the great game, but I would appreciate it if some people could broaden their perspective and reduce their sabremetric elitism. Blast away all of you that are smarter than me.
      Stating that having your better hitters get more AB's than your worse hitters should lead to more runs and more wins isn't really sabermetrics, its common sense.
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      "Stating that having your better hitters get more AB's than your worse hitters should lead to more runs and more wins isn't really sabermetrics, its common sense."

      Completely agree.
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      And really, that's all sabermetrics are... I've never seen anyone claim them to be infallible. All they are is a tool to improve the mean and maximize the talent you have available as a team.[/QUOTE]

      This is my perspective as well--one that we can all agree upon. It is overemphasis and dismissiveness that I have a problem with.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      This is the key. You can't predict aberrant behavior. You can only take the information you have on hand and make the best decisions using that information.

      And really, that's all sabermetrics are... I've never seen anyone claim them to be infallible. All they are is a tool to improve the mean and maximize the talent you have available as a team.
      Exactly. I like to equate sabermetrics to poker hands.

      AA is going to win more hands than 72o. But, this does not guarantee you are going to win a single hand, or even a series of hands, with AA vs 72o.
      All you can do is know that you are getting your money in with the best of it, and over a large enough sample size you are going to win money, while the guy going in with 72o is going to lose money.
      Sometimes it takes a REALLY LARGE sample size though.

      Bottom line: Playing the odds will never guarantee success, but it's hard to see how it can even be disputed that it gives you a better chance than not playing the odds.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Yes, in real life the extra 7 times Joe Mauer gets on base throughout the year could mean 7 more wins. If ANYTHING, the math tempers things a bit.
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      But you can't move Mauer around based on every at bat......so the goal is to get him the most at bats in each game as possible. Not sure how that is even up for debate, really. It just seems obvious on its face, let alone when you look at the math*

      *math is for predicting the likely future, not the certain future, of course it does not always work, again, not sure how that is up for debate either.
      No one is arguing that Mauer shouldn't have more at-bats than Dozier. I think the point John was trying to make, and I agree, is that some people take on too strict of a "Joe Mauer batting second leads to x number of at bats leading to x runs leading to x wins" assumption, which implicitly suggests that anyone who understands the basics of sabermetrics is smarter than a major league manager and anyone else who dares to have another opinion.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDTwinkie View Post
      No one is arguing that Mauer shouldn't have more at-bats than Dozier. I think the point John was trying to make, and I agree, is that some people take on too strict of a "Joe Mauer batting second leads to x number of at bats leading to x runs leading to x wins" assumption, which implicitly suggests that anyone who understands the basics of sabermetrics is smarter than a major league manager and anyone else who dares to have another opinion.
      I don't see how trying to define 'x' does that at all.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      When talking about Gardy, we are generally talking about statistical analysis vs. "gut" ("gut" to me is pretty dismissive). I would be surprised if this particular batting order change would mean less than 2 wins. But anything above 0 wins is enough for me to warrant the change. Clearly.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDTwinkie View Post
      No one is arguing that Mauer shouldn't have more at-bats than Dozier. I think the point John was trying to make, and I agree, is that some people take on too strict of a "Joe Mauer batting second leads to x number of at bats leading to x runs leading to x wins" assumption, which implicitly suggests that anyone who understands the basics of sabermetrics is smarter than a major league manager and anyone else who dares to have another opinion.
      It's not just an assumption. It's probability based on statistical analysis. 1.5 wins seems a bit conservative when compared to common sense. And 1.5 wins matters.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I have said this before and it is NOT directed to anyone in this thread, but I often get the same vibe from anti statistical analysis people as I do from anti-evolutionists. "Well, your theory isn't perfect, so . . . I'll just go back to what I *feel* is true." Clearly, evolution is more well-established since "theory" in science is *NOT* "theory" in general parlance, including baseball statistical analysis, but I do think there are similarities in the general acceptance of the two.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDTwinkie View Post
      No one is arguing that Mauer shouldn't have more at-bats than Dozier. I think the point John was trying to make, and I agree, is that some people take on too strict of a "Joe Mauer batting second leads to x number of at bats leading to x runs leading to x wins" assumption, which implicitly suggests that anyone who understands the basics of sabermetrics is smarter than a major league manager and anyone else who dares to have another opinion.

      My point was John specifically asks Aaron to quantify it, which Aaron avoided doing until asked. When John replies that the number insignificant, Aaron tries to use other numbers to put it in perspective. At which point John gets high and mighty says the number doesn't matter and rips Aaaron for quantifying it. It's hilarious!

      As many have pointed out, it's less about an exact number than about a more specific way to evaluate the value of doing something in baseball. Is it perfect? No, but it can be useful as a reference point.

      Furthermore, missed in the discussion was that John quoted chance happenings as being more useful to a team, but a manager can't control that, but he can control how many ABs a bad player gets.
    1. SDTwinkie's Avatar
      SDTwinkie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      I have said this before and it is NOT directed to anyone in this thread, but I often get the same vibe from anti statistical analysis people as I do from anti-evolutionists. "Well, your theory isn't perfect, so . . . I'll just go back to what I *feel* is true." Clearly, evolution is more well-established since "theory" in science is *NOT* "theory" in general parlance, including baseball statistical analysis, but I do think there are similarities in the general acceptance of the two.

      Oh Gosh, I do sound like this, don’t I?!? Ouch. Please don’t count me in this camp.

      I guess all I am attempting to say is that baseball outcomes are predictable and random at the same time—and sometimes human factors and performance in critical situations (e.g., Parmalee at bat yesterday) are important. I am not ant-stats, just am sometimes put off when some individuals (no one in this discussion) overemphasize them in an arrogant manner.

      OK, I am quitting now--thanks for the respectful discussion everyone. Go Twins.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I don't get this argument. It doesn't matter if one run is added or fifty. If the team is better by even the smallest margin and there are no significant downsides, you make the move. It's that bloody simple.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDTwinkie View Post
      Oh Gosh, I do sound like this, don’t I?!? Ouch. Please don’t count me in this camp.

      I guess all I am attempting to say is that baseball outcomes are predictable and random at the same time—and sometimes human factors and performance in critical situations (e.g., Parmalee at bat yesterday) are important. I am not ant-stats, just am sometimes put off when some individuals (no one in this discussion) overemphasize them in an arrogant manner.

      OK, I am quitting now--thanks for the respectful discussion everyone. Go Twins.
      No, it did not apply to anyone in particular. It is a general thing that I have found.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDTwinkie View Post
      To overemphasize the “hard core smart person” side of sabremetrics and de-emphasize its correlational nature that inherently includes varying levels of imprecision (i.e., the third place Angels had the highest WAR in their division last year) signals a higher level of critical thought is needed. Make no mistake sabremetric analysis contributes to our knowledge of the great game, but I would appreciate it if some people could broaden their perspective and reduce their sabremetric elitism. Blast away all of you that are smarter than me.
      Honestly, I agree. And I get the disdain, but to be fair that probably won't play well here.

      Many sabermetricians remind me of that hipster that brags about reading Socrates, yet fails to discern the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      I have said this before and it is NOT directed to anyone in this thread, but I often get the same vibe from anti statistical analysis people as I do from anti-evolutionists. "Well, your theory isn't perfect, so . . . I'll just go back to what I *feel* is true." Clearly, evolution is more well-established since "theory" in science is *NOT* "theory" in general parlance, including baseball statistical analysis, but I do think there are similarities in the general acceptance of the two.
      I think this is a sloppy comparison. There are real technical and philosophical problems with many of the metrics sabermetricians espouse. From simply adding onbase percentage to slugging to the mysteriously derived coefficients that some metrics employ--this is hardly science. Not to mention defensive metrics. Sabermetrics is burgeoning in terms of its capacity for precision, much of it remains totally convoluted and very flawed. I scoff at the notion that sabermetrics is somehow as elegant or as scientifically hard-won as evolution.

      Sure statistical analysis is valuable, but only if its put into a larger context in which we can interpret that data. We should be guarded about anything that claims to totalize, anything that claims to quantify which before was abstract.
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