Baseball, stop. Just stop.
If you’re wondering why a large portion of America has tuned baseball out, it’s because of the ridiculous stats that commentators seem to be fixated on these days.
dWAR. fWAR. wRC+. OPS+. WOBA. Launch angle. Exit velocity.
Who. Freaking. Cares.
In many ways baseball has become too cerebral. Next thing you know, we’ll need to wheel in scientists and chemists to explain the game of baseball to us. Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius will be in the dugout chomping on bubble gum and performing algebraic equations before their next at-bat.
When I was growing up, things were much more simplistic. You hit, you fielded, you threw. Batting stats were reduced to three categories:
Pitching stats were very similar. Won-loss. ERA. Strikeouts.
That’s basically all people cared about. From time to time, I’d analyze a player’s runs, doubles, and triples, but even stats like slugging percentage were out in the hinterland of my focus. And honestly, I think that the Big Three stats were all that affected whether or not my ’87 McGwire went up or down in the latest issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly.
I understand that baseball, more than any other sport, has always been a game of statistics. Nerds, far and wide, love to analyze the national pastime’s stats and compare them in overlong coffee shop dialogues. But this has gotten to be too much.
I care absolutely nothing about launch angle.
I care absolutely nothing about exit velocity.
I rebuke the stat fWAR.
I rebuke WOBA.
Think about how utterly absurd that sounds. Can you imagine going up to someone on the street and saying, “Did you know that Brian Dozier’s fWAR actually went up in 2018?” They’d look at you like you had three heads.
When I’m watching a game, I don’t want to have to Google or Wikipedia what a stat means. It’s hard enough to remember a handful of stats, but it seems like baseball continues to heap more and more obscure stats on the fans. Does anyone honestly think that the average person who comes home and nukes his supper cares about wRC+?
Let’s talk about WAR for a moment, perhaps the “sexiest” of the new stats. According to Wikipedia, “Baseball Reference uses six components to calculate WAR for position players: The components are batting runs, baserunning runs, runs added or lost due to grounding into double plays in double play situations, fielding runs, positional adjustment runs, and replacement level runs (based on playing time). The first five factors are compared to league average, so a value of 0 represents an average player.”
Here is a screenshot of that equation:
This isn’t baseball. This is Professor Linderholm’s Calculus 101 at MIT.
So please, baseball gods, make the drippings understandable. For the sake of the game, let’s get back to regular baseball stats again. H&A
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