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Murray Chass on those newfangled numbers

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by KnuteRockne, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. KnuteRockne

    KnuteRockne Member


    This is embarrassing (under the heading of things Murray doesn't want to hear about any more):

    Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.

    I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.

    Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know.

    I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that’s their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

    People play baseball. Numbers don’t.
  2. KnuteRockne

    KnuteRockne Member

  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    A few things Knute:

    Nothing like dragging up a month-old notebook and finding one thing to pick at.

    VORP is nothing but mathematical masturbation, as so much sabermetrics is.

    Sabermatricians deal in many good and useful stats, and a whole lot of bullshit like VORP, R-27 (I think that's what it's called), win shares, range factor and any stat that's got a + on it because it's adjusted to make all conditions equal when we know conditions are never equal.

    I'll take the Murray Chasses of the world, you can have the Rob Neyers -- and I'll learn more about what's really happening in MLB.
  4. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    I think Chass is right on. Those fucking creators of stupid, ridiculous stats that nobody understands are among the (many) reasons I quit following baseball.
  5. KnuteRockne

    KnuteRockne Member

    There is a case to be made about sabermetrics going overboard, but Murray doesn't make it here. He comes off as a threatened, proudly uninformed curmudgeon, particularly when he brags about not taking the time to look up what these things mean.

    Baseball front offices ARE paying attention to these numbers. Unlike the obsessed saber-nerds, it's only part of the equation for them, as it should be. But for Chass to brag that he has neither the time or inclination to keep up with what the front offices he covers are doing is, and I stand by the use of the word, embarrassing.
  6. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    And you would be wrong, Knute. If you read Chass regularly, you'd know he uses many stats that the saber-nerds so love.
    In this case, he is saying VORP is one of those bullshit numbers that some saber-nerd invented that has no true meaning so who gives a fuck what it is.
  7. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    Why does value over replacement have no true meaning?
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    How does one arrive at value over replacement?
    What does it have to do with how a player actually performs on the field?
    Show me the specific value of this so-called statistic.
  9. jagtrader

    jagtrader Active Member

    This is what I don't get. Who cares about why/how someone else enjoys the game? Why should it affect the way YOU enjoy the game?

    Fear of complex statistics appears to be a baseball-only phobia. If you want to ignore them, fine. If you want to discredit them, go for it. If you want to whine about how they "ruin" something, that's just stupid.
  10. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I always wondered what D_B's alternate ID was.

    And VORP doesn't have much value, unless you can come up with a daily VORP, based on whether one player is hung over one day while the other isn't, whether one player is having gal problems, whether one player has a nagging injury, whether one player has a .111 lifetime average against a pitcher but is 3-for-4 against the pitcher in recent games, whether one player is a clubhouse leader while the other is a clubhouse cancer, and I could go on all day.

    So yeah, VORP doesn't have much value.
  11. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    You determine a player's value and compare it to replacement level. (I assume you know that the true value of offensive events -- hits, homers, steals, walks -- can be quite accurately measured. Defense is somewhat murkier but it can be done.)

    The value in it is the same as any other statistic -- it enables you to measure what players do on the field. The difference is that it does a better job of measuring it.
  12. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    But what is "value"? Some teams value a huge slugger at third, for instance, and will give up some defense. Another team may have power at other positions and can afford to value a third baseman that's more into defense and leadership. "Value" is not a mathematical average; it's relative to a team's needs.
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