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.
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