Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Our Hometown Columnists Suck

The boys over at Fire Joe Morgan are at it again, this time completely annihilating Bill Conlin's recent wretched offering. I don't have a single positive thing to say about Conlin's article, so I won't say a word...except for that as bad as Conlin's article is, it is no worse than Phil Sheridan's article from last Wednesday. Check this out:

If there is a lesson in all this, it is that numbers don't tell the whole story. This galls the sabermetricians and Money Ballers. It is completely lost on those who worry only about their fantasy teams. Nevertheless it is true that there are some things you just can't quantify, no matter what Bill James or Billy Beane say.

This issue is best understood by looking at last year's trade of Abreu to the New York Yankees. Well into October, many e-mailers complained that the Phillies would have won the extra couple games needed to reach the playoffs if they hadn't foolishly given Abreu away. But the fact is, the team didn't really start playing well together and winning until Abreu was gone.

You want numbers? The Phillies' record before the deal: 49-54. After the deal: 36-23.

Abreu is, by any measure, a very talented and productive player. He's a perfectly decent guy. And yet the Phillies were a better team without him (or Bell or Cory Lidle) on the roster.

In Victorino, the Phillies get a totally different kind of rightfielder. He said he expects to hit .300, score 100 runs and make a serious jump by stealing 30 to 40 bases.

On the first bold point: Post hoc ergo propter hoc is Latin for "after this, therefore because of this." Something happens, something else happens, therefore the original something is the cause of the something else. Correlation does not equal causation. If the Abreu trade is what Phil Sheridan wants to point at as the sole reason why the Phillies turned their season around, that's his business. I just happen to think that it is one of many, many other more logical reasons (say, the vast improvement of the pitching staff and the monstrous offensive output of Ryan Howard down the stretch).

On the second bold point: Here are Abreu's numbers in the categories Sheridan mentioned in his last eight big league seasons -

1999: .335 BA, 118 R, 19 SB
2000: .316 BA, 103 R, 27 SB
2001: .289 BA, 118 R, 36 SB
2002: .308 BA, 102 R, 31 SB
2003: .300 BA, 99 R, 22 SB
2004: .301 BA, 118 R, 40 SB
2005: .286 BA, 104 R, 31 SB
2006: .297 BA, 98 R, 30 SB

Abreu is a totally different player than a guy who hits .300, scores 100 runs, and steals 30-40 bases? Abreu's 162 Game Averages are as follows: .302 BA, 104 R, 30 SB. True, Victorino is a different player in that he'll play a much better right field than Abreu ever did. It's also true that Bobby Abreu has walked over 100 times in 8 of his 9 full big league seasons with a total of 205 career homers. I understand the vast differences in salary between the two players, but when discussing their respective abilities between the's not even close.

What was the point of this post? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. Just an excuse to rant and rave against the local media (and maybe to continue to obsess about the Abreu deal...I know it's not healthy to still be so upset by it, but here we are). Anyway, I feel a lot better now, thanks.


Anonymous malphie said...

Remember when Deadspin did the "sportswriters' binkies" thing a while back? I think there should be an opposite term as well, for people that sportswriters irrationally hate. Conlin has Burrell, Marcus Hayes has Abreu (MAN does Hayes hate Abreu), Frank Fitzpatrick has Toby Keith, Bill Simmons has Paul O'Neill. Maybe instead of "binkies" we could call them "stinkies." Oh snap, what's Deadspin's email address??

3:51 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

You are a professional writer and all you came up with is "stinkies"...shame on you, sir.

Good idea though, I especially love the Toby Keith one. I'm no fan of Toby, but maaaaaaaaan what in the world could he have done to make Frank Fitzpatrick hate him so much?

4:23 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

I actually just talked about this exact same thing yesterday. I despise Conlin. He is easily my least favorite writer out there today.

I also love Burrell

12:49 PM  

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