Monthly Archives: February 2012

What Is Stupidity? And Which Writers Flaunt It?

Looking to make a quick buck, Bradley Woodrum finally asks the question that we’ve all skipped over, “What is sabermetrics?” Wait, actually, that question has been asked lots of times before. There are whole manifestos dedicated to answering it. As far as short answers go, it’s hard to top Bill James’s: “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.”

Woodrum–without bothering to mention James, the creator of the term sabermetrics–gives us this, instead:

f(\text{Sabermetrics}) = \text{statistics} + \text{scouting} + \text{business} + \varepsilon

where \varepsilon is “anything yet-known or missed by myself.”

I can’t wrap my head around the idea that sabermetrics is equal parts statistics, scouting, and business with a dash of anything else. It’s just so stupid. You realize Woodrum got paid for writing this, right? By his logic, nearly any thinking related to baseball counts as sabermetrics. Who’s to say this random tweet I just found (“Hopefully the #Dodgers get a new owner soon. Mccourt sux ass”) isn’t sabermetric? It does pertain to the business of baseball, after all.

Also, Woodrum needs to refresh himself on how functions work. Sabermetrics isn’t an input for statistics, scouting, business, and anything else; it’s the other way around, sort of.

Woodrum then turns his attention to categorizing each Major League front office by the number of “branches” of sabermetrics they… use? Is use the correct word here? The whole idea of branches of sabermetrics, plus separating teams by these branches, is so stupid it’s making my brain melt. Nevertheless, I’ll stick with use.

Every team uses at least one branch, though only the Dodgers use one measly branch. That makes sense, though, since McCourt “sux ass.” The rest of the league is pretty evenly split between two, two-to-three, and three branches of sabermetrics, though Woodrum doesn’t explain how he made these distinctions or even what branches each team uses. He doesn’t explain what exactly using two-to-three branches means, either.

Ultimately, the problem with this article stems from Woodrum’s writerliness. Without writerliness, there cannot be good writing. That’s just a fact of life. And as I can tell, writerliness can be broken down into three components: creativity, perseverance, and persuasion and other as-yet unknown elements of writing.

So, let’s use this three-component breakdown to redefine FanGraph’s list of authors. If we look at the authors and analyze where their articles seem to come from, whether they’re coming from just creativity and persuasion or all three components, we get this:

3 Component Writers

  • Dave Cameron
  • Carson Cistulli
  • David Appelman
  • Paul Swydan
  • Matt Klaassen
  • Tommy Rancel*
  • Noah Isaacs
  • Josh Weinstock
  • Ryan Martin
  • Jonah Keri
  • Patrick Newman
  • Mitchel Lichtman
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Maury Brown
  • Seth Samuels
  • R.J. Anderson
  • Dayn Perry
  • Brian Cartwright
  • Sean Smith
  • Dave Studeman

2-to-3 Component Writers

  • Mike Newman
  • Wendy Thurm
  • Chris Cwik
  • David Laurila
  • Ryan Campbell
  • Matthew Carruth
  • Jeff Zimmerman*
  • Josh Goldman
  • tangotiger
  • Michael Lee
  • Erik Manning
  • Graham MacAree

2 Component Writers

  • Alex Remington
  • Jack Moore
  • Eno Sarris
  • Mike Axisa
  • Marc Hulet
  • Jim Breen
  • Jesse Wolfersberger
  • Dave Allen
  • Jason Roberts*
  • Reed MacPhail
  • Joe Pawlikowski
  • David Golebiewski
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith
  • Joshua Maciel
  • Bryan Smith*
  • Pat Andriola
  • Steve Sommer
  • Sky Kalkman

1 Component Writers

  • Steve Slowinski
  • Matt Swartz
  • Eric Seidman
  • Albert Lyu
  • Brandon Warne**
  • Lucas Apostoleris
  • Zach Sanders
  • Frankie Piliere
  • Niv Shah

0 Component Writers

  • Bradley Woodrum

* I’m especially unsure about these authors.

** Given Warne’s empathy problems, he is the only writer who appears to be without common sense. This may have changed recently.

I would like to reiterate that these are merely my perceptions (coupled with a poll of anonymous Major League scouts). If you are one of these authors and I have gotten your placement wrong, please feel free to alert me to the oversight. Naturally, I weigh an actual writer’s perspectives more heavily. Can I have my money now?

Sabermetric Ministry of Truth

Tangotiger on January 4, 2012:

Nate Silver had a headline that read: Why I’d Bet on Santorum (and Against My Model)

I thought: NO!!!! Nate, why? Why?

The reason should be clear: why HAVE a model that includes all the parameters you deem relevant, if you then throw away the model if you don’t like the results?

So, I really wish that those people who have forecasting models to NOT hedge their bets here. Either you have a model or you don’t.

Tangotiger on February 4, 2012:

Brian doesn’t blindly follow his off-the-wall forecast. Good for him.

You got that, everyone? Don’t disregard your model if you don’t like the results and don’t put stock in the crazy forecasts from your model.