Posted at 12:34 PM on June 2, 2005
by Bob Collins
Last year, my youngest son (then 15) and I drove to Cincinnati to watch the Reds play in their new ballpark. We do that from time to time. Hop in the car and drive to a ballpark far away and see what happens.
It so developed that the hotel in which we were staying was also hosting the SABR (Society of American Baseball Research) national convention, so there were lots of easels in the lobby with Catchers Interference on Tuesdays with high dewpoints vs. Catchers Interference on Thursdays with high ozone studies on it.
We were making our way through the mezzanine of the hotel to get to the game and it was Happy Hour or something so the going was slow. As we reached our destination -- an escalator -- my son piped up behind me, "I don't see any women."
It was then I passed on to my son, that which my Dad passed on to me at roughly the same age. "Son, you've got a better chance of attracting women with cheap cologne and Best of Bread 8-track tapes than you do with baseball statistics."
I relay this story only as a way to say, "yeah, I know, for that you are about to receive, I am truly sorry for the time you are about to spend.... alone."
I've been working on a couple of spreadsheets inspired by some SABR work. It's a project that's not done yet but I'll relay two things. One is XR (extrapolated runs), a measure of the runs created DIRECTLY by the player. The other is the percentage of offensive plays on the team for which the player is responsible.
These are based on stats through Tuesday night. To be honest with you, I didn't realize Shannon Stewart was as good as he's been -- offensively speaking. Little else surprised me except that after Castro's game on Tuesday night, I decided to take a closer look. Based on the above, he would appear to be creating runs at roughly the same clip Torii Hunter is. You also have to wonder why it took the Twins so long to bury Jason Bartlett and Luis Rivas in favor of Castro and Nick Punto.
At some point I hope to increase my spreadsheet work and come up with a formula that will help explain why a spelling bee is shown on a sports network.
That's nice, but doesn't it tell what we already know??
Stewart is the most complete, professional hitter on the team, Hunter, Jones, Ford, Mauer, Cuddyer and Morneau are contributing regulars, Punto & Castro are exceeding expectations and the rest of the guys are reserve no-counts.
SABRmetrics -- complicating the obvious since the late 1970s.
It tells you what you know about Stewart, of course. But, like I said, it told me more about Castro than what I knew. The key to much of this data is to use it to compare it to league average and replacement level. This will be particularly important as the team makes decisions.
Regarding SABR, scoff if you will but a few years ago I was at an Indians game at the Dome and Tom Prince came up and a guy behind me turns to the other guy and says, "he's having a better year than his numbers suggest."
I wanted to explain to him that that's impossible in baseball.
But why bother?
I, for one, am a geek who loves to crunch the numbers that baseball presents, and feel at home with any discussion on statistics. What would be helpful here is some discussion of what these Twins' numbers presented actually represent. What formula is used to calculate them? I mean doesn't Stewart hold a greater opportunity to participate in his team's offensive plays simply because he is the everyday leadoff hitter? And what are created runs? Runs + RBIs? Some explanation will help to put those numbers into context, especially given the new found heavy reliance on the OBPS numbers used often by Gammons and others nowadays.