Need more useless baseball metrics — stat – Chicago Tribune
Modern baseball statistics are much like restless leg syndrome, like gluten or sleep numbers. You know, crap someone made up for no good reason.
In fact, I think CRAP is one of the new baseball stats. It stands for Creepy Ratios And Percentages. Or maybe not. One of my favorites is LIPS (Late Inning Pressure Situations) though it was much more fun when it belonged to Morganna, the Kissing Bandit.
It isn’t as if baseball did not already have enough statistics. Good old RBIs and ERAs. They’ve gotten us through peace, war, the wave, artificial turf and the San Diego Chicken, so it isn’t as if we were under-stat-ted. Not stat-isfied?
But it is not enough for a run to be earned any more, it must be dissected and scrutinized, analyzed, charted, graphed and plotted until all that’s left are shards of arithmetic and an eyeshade.
Anyone who understands, endorses or can determine the baseball statistic Wins Above Replacement (WAR) may now be excused from this discussion.
And take VORP with you. I believe that was a cold war alliance before it became Value Over Replacement Player.
The rest of us will fill out our scorecards the same way Red Smith used to and pay no attention to why the Cubs hit fewer ground balls than almost any other team (because they strike out more.)
Oops. I did not mean to be so sabermetric. Knowing stuff like the ratio between ground balls and fly balls is essential to the modern appreciation of the grand old game. An out is no longer just an out and plate appearances per strikeout must figure in there someplace.
How can we know what a player is worth if we do not know how many runs he has created, his on-base percentage and whether his power is isolated or his average is secondary?
And, yet, even with BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and PECOTA (player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithm), there is room for more.
RSWS: Runs scored while scratching. This is usually a first baseman stat though it applies to any player or coach who can’t resist the tug of nature.
PTLBG: Practice time lost beard grooming. Baseball beards are the most distressing trend in sports since NBA coaches had perms. Any slump, pitching or hitting, is directly proportional to the length of hair that hides the face, except with the Yankees where push comes to shave.
BBS/BAS: Baseball before steroids and baseball after steroids. All baseball statistics preceding Jose Canseco and following Barry Bonds are valid. All those in between require urine samples, a subpoena and the inevitable Congressional subcommittee.
GW/LBDL: Games won or lost because of dumb luck. This stat covers every case that cannot be explained by formula or computer program, and must be the primary explanation as to why the Marlins have won as many World Series titles in 22 years as the Cubs have in 111.
GW/LDTRB: Games won or lost due to ritual behavior. The exact opposite of dumb luck. This stat encompasses everything from curses to rally caps. Whatever is done during a hitting streak must continue to be done (unchanged underwear, alas) and anything that is done during a losing streak must be undone (step on a crack you break your catcher’s bat.)
PERA: This is what a pitcher’s earned run average would have been if he did not give up home runs, base hits, bases on balls or could find the strike zone without a GPS (not a baseball stat).
STOP: Spring training optimistic predictions. Every team finishes first. Eventually it may give way to WCM or Wild Card Mania, which is treating the opportunity to play one extra game the same as winning the pennant.
BCHR: Batting cage home runs. Very big with the White Sox.
ESWTU: Embarrassing selfies wearing throwback uniforms. The cry can be heard throughout the Alleghenies. “You mean Willie Stargell actually dressed like this?”
HFVTA: Hall of Fame votes taken away. Older voters who are no longer allowed to select players who actually saw Willie Stargell dress like that, who don’t know the difference between a meme and a hashtag and, furthermore, don’t care.
Lincicome is a special contributor to the Chicago Tribune.
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