Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Prodigal Son Returns

So yes, I am back. Actually I've been back for two weeks but I didn't slow down one bit. The first weekend back I headed to Natchez for a Food and Wine Festival. Nothing sports related other than playing a few rounds of Bocce ball. Then this past weekend, Horne, Sox Gal, Miss Rookie, and myself took the long drive to Camden Yards for two games against the Red Sox.

I won't go into too much detail, mainly because I'm just tired. Sox won one and lost one of our witness, and lost the one previous to our arrival. Go Figure. The O's who we have something like a .946 winning percentage against over the last half decade and we drop two out of three while we're there. Still, it was most of our first trips to Camden (Sox Gal with the only prior) and goodness is that a beautiful park. If Fenway is the epitome of a vintage stadium then Camden is definitely the shinning beacon of what a new one should be. Not a bad seat in the house (luckily for us since our seats Sunday were on the last row of the top deck) and plenty of food vendors with ice cold brews including Smithwick's and Guiness on tap. Oh yeah.

Everyone is all in an uproar about the Yanks winning streak since the break. I've always been one to stand back from a mid season streak and go... it doesn't do you any good in July to win 20 out of 25 if you drop 15 out of 20 in Sept. But that's just me. As I'm writing this they are getting the royal bejeezus kicked out of them by the Orioles (again, go figure). Of course the on again off again relationship between our baseball bats and baseballs has us trailing the Devil Rays... so frustrating to have such amazing pitching and then no one can find their swing. Still it's nice to be able to rely on a two run lead instead of having to have a seven point spread.

Of course I haven't lost faith. Not one bit. The Yanks are heading into a tough section with their schedule culminating with a face off against us (my first to watch since May). And on top of that I'll be back in Starkvegas with Horne and Miss Rookie to enjoy it.

Well that is my "return to the post" post. Nothing special, but at least you know I'm not dead.

I picked up Moneyball from Henry and am very excited about reading it. Money and baseball, could their be another book more up my alley? I think not.

Oh yeah, and I hate Joe Morgan still... probably more even. Sheesh.

Currently Drinking: Sweet Tea. Nectar to the gods.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Joe Morgan, you dumbass

Trevor and I talked about this for some length today, so I figured I'd share it with our faithful audience.

Today in a chat session on ESPN.com(many of which are available to me because of an awesome gift to me of ESPN The Magazine), Joe Morgan fielded a question:

Rick in San Diego: Do you think there is often too much weight and kudos given to individual stat data accomplishments in what is supposed to be a team sport?

Joe Morgan: Finally, somebody that understands the game! You're right. Statistics are overrated. What you do to help your team win is what it's all about. These stats like OPS, it doesn't tell you what you do for the team. To my opinion, to help the team, you drive in runs or score runs. That helps the team. That's how you should be judged.

Being a recently baptized "Moneyball baby," I quickly copied, pasted, and emailed this quote to my email in hopes of posting. I just couldn't let this go.

So Joe says statistics are overrated. Are they? Possibly. But it's doubtful. If there is anything Billy Beane and Co. have showed us, it's that even if you focus 100% on statistics and have a cold, hard relationship with your players and managers, you'll WIN games, and you'll be in CONTENTION. From 1999-2004, no team did that better with less money than the Oakland A's. So for that point alone, Joe should be slapped. With a bat. By David Ortiz.

As for the next part, well, Joe is just an idiot. "These stats like OPS, it doesn't tell you what you do for the team." REALLY, Joe? Did you seriously just say that? For those of you with not exactly as much free time devoted to baseball stats as I am, I'll try to explain.

OPS. It stands for "on-base plus slugging." It's a handy way to look at how a player(or team) bats for power, as well as how well he(or they) get on base. Let's break each of those components down further.

On-Base Percentage(OBP). It's basically what it sounds like. It is how many times you reach base safely in the absence of errors or fielder's choices, divided by how many official at-bats you have plus the "unofficial" at-bats. So it's:

(hits + walks + hits-by-pitch) / (at-bats + walks + hits-by-pitches + sacrifice flies)

Slugging Percentage(SLG). A power rate statistic, slugging percentage is just the total bases you earn per official at-bat, or:

(total # of bases) / ( at-bats)

Add OBP and SLG together and you get OPS.

So back to the argument at hand. Joe Morgan said OPS doesn't tell you what you are doing for your team. Well thankfully for my side of things, the hard work has already been done. The guys over at Hardball Times did an analysis over every season of baseball, and they looked at the correlation of runs scored with a host of different parameters, including our lovely OPS statistic.

Their results? As it turns out, OPS and runs scored have a correlation coefficient of .955, which in statistics means that OPS is GREATLY related to run production(with a value of 1.000 meaning they are entirely related).

Do some more tinkering, as HBT did, and you square that term, and you get a coefficient of determination(CoD). If the CoD is 1.000, there is a 1-to-1 perfectly linear relationship between the two variables. OPS and runs scored have a CoD of .913. That means that OPS is almost perfectly linear with respect to runs scored.

So how does this help us? Well, if you(or your team) have a high OPS, then you are scoring some runs. Last time I checked, runs are how you beat your opponent. And I'm no expert, but I'm rather certain THAT is how your teams win. So Joe Morgan, OPS DOES show you what you are doing for your team. It shows that you are contributing to runs, and that is quite important in the grand baseball scheme of things.

Trevor and I have long hated Joe Morgan, but this is just another reason that supports our stance. I'm not saying Joe Morgan isn't knowledgeable about baseball(although he doesn't), but if he doesn't accept well-proven ideas and theories, or if he hasn't stepped into the modern era of baseball in the past 30 years, then he doesn't need to spreading his "know-how" with America, let alone telling them "they finally understand baseball."

I say "Good DAY, sir!"

Oh yeh, and if you check that Joe Morgan Wikipedia article, you'll find more boneheaded remarks by Joe regarding Moneyball. What a complete, utter, dumbass.

Currently Drinking: Coors Light (leftover from the wedding weekend)
Are you looking for sports? Or maybe just the Red Sox? That team that is in the American League East? That same team that is the rival of the New York Yankees? Maybe you are looking for sports on the rox? Or is it Sports on the Rocks? You may be looking for Sports Drinks. Henry and Trevor read the Boston GlobeBoston Globe. They also read ESPN. If you are also looking for Mississippi State University sports, then you are in the right place too. Dirt Dawgs? Diamond Dawgs? Dawgs in general? You can Google the hell out of this site if you want.