The Rays Tank: MVP debate backlash, Melky to Toronto

Those crazy eyes would have looked good in left field. - Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

What's far worse than Cabrera winning the MVP? The things people write about it.

Yes, the Baseball Writers Association of America gave them MVP award to Miguel Cabrera instead of the more numerically valuable Mike Trout. Therefore it's time to fire up the tired old articles about geeks, mothers' basements, and actually watching baseball games as opposed to just puttering around on one's computer. This time the anti-thought salvo was from Mitch Albom, a writer from the Detroit Free Press. You can read it if you want, although I don't recommend doing so. It's just a rehashing of a few of the cliches any regular FJM reader will have seen lampooned over and over again. It's not a particularly interesting rehashing. There have been reasoned responses from the stats geeks (Russel Carlton), but Albom hasn't produced meaty enough grist for those responses to be much fun.

Here's my recommendation. Don't read anything I've linked to above. Just go to Fire Joe Morgan, scroll down to the bottom, pick a month at random, and read everything from that month. I've yet to encounter anything else that can so dependably get me to crack up in a silent office.

I'm done with this "debate" now.

No I'm not. I cannot resist. To quote from Albom:

Today, every stat matters. There is no end to the appetite for categories -- from OBP to OPS to WAR. I mean, OMG! The number of triples hit while wearing a certain-colored underwear is probably being measured as we speak.

It's amazing how people can so continuously get something not only wrong, but also completely backwards. Today, every stat does not matter. Today we identify stats that do not matter (like RBIs and pitcher wins) and reject them. Before we geeks came along, every stat mattered. Sure, there are a lot of different stats out there now with different acronyms (and really, is that the best three that Albom could come up with?), but that's because reality is messy. We sabremetricians are not of one mind. We spend our time arguing over what does matter, and in what ratios does it matter.

Some day we will be better at our jobs and hobbies, we will all be certain when we write, and we will agree on everything. There will only be a few acronyms to remember, and people like Mitch Albom will be happier. We won't stop watching, but we will stop talking about baseball because there will be less to say. I for one am glad we aren't there yet.

On to links actually worth reading:

  • The 2013 Hardball Times Annual is available. Buy it, read it. Those folks do good work.
  • The Blue Jays just signed Melky Cabrera for the annoyingly low price of $16 million over two years. Jeff Sullivan breaks down the signing. At that price, I would have thought that Andrew Friedman would gladly take on the talented outfielder, PED questions and all. Offseason round one to Anthopolous.
  • Here's a cool interview by mathematician Samuel Arbesmanwith with Michael Mauboussin, an investment strategist, about distinguishing luck from skill (h/t Tango). He touches on how baseball compares to other sports in terms of how much luck is involved, and gives a good explanation of reversion to the mean. Through and through a good read.
  • And a non-baseball link, because I like Chris Brown, and feel the need to prove to Mitch Albom that I watch sports, too. Men's sports for that matter.
  • Have questions for the writing staff? Shoot an e-mail to draysbaymailbag@gmail.com.
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