The original post was a bit too inflamatory, causing defense of advanced stats. The point of this post was to get away from the GM type analysis of our players and begin a discussion of the small, in-game battles going on in order to better understand the game.
I intended to do this by focusing on Tim Hudson tonight, watching what pitches he throws and in what situations. I posted a poll for which of his pitches is most dominating, but instead maybe everyone could just list their favorite pitcher/hitter battle of the night after the game.
The original post is after the jump.
I've recently gotten my panties in a bunch (see here and here) over the use of advanced stats in evaluating our players. ERA is a valuable measure of how many runs are allowed per 9. Maybe not as valuable as FIP. Batting average and OBP are valuable stats describing the efficiency of hitters, and stats such as ISO and BABIP might help to describe a hitter's power or slumps. Ceratainly it's not that I place no value in what these stats describe. They are much more valuable than previous stats. They have merit in comparing players in a trade situation (as a GM might do) or evaluating players we don't know, but I think they have limited value in explaining the outcomes on the field.
More to the point is that I don't believe that these stats are helpful in describing why players are succeeding or failing, or having trouble at the plate (or on the mound), just that they are. These stats are all derived from the results of a players talent, and are therefore secondary descriptors of talent, by definition.
For instance, it has been speculated that Chipper's BABIP is lower this year due to luck, or or lack of power. I think it would be more helpful to describe his performance as a function of a primary statistic, such as bat speed. It may be that his bat speed is lower and is resulting in less power. This analysis of a primary measurement (bat speed) can be supported (but not proven) by secondary stats, such as ISO, BABIP, etc. I realize this info may not be available, and is subject to similar problems as other stats, like varying bat speed on different pitches, etc. but I think this type of approach addresses the causes of the on-field results in a more accurate way.
In addition, this discussion is more baseball oriented. This post is a plea for all of us to make the discussions and analysis of our players a baseball discussion, instead of a statistics discussion. While it is helpful to use stats such as BABIP as we search for reasons to explain our players performance, I think it would be more valuable to describe their actual performance in the same manner a scout might, and not in a results oriented manner.
This approach has been used in coaching (its in here somewhere, but really any of it is great reading) and I think it makes quite a bit of sense. I think it is, in reality, the ultimate (but very subjective) way to measure a players talent, as it takes away many of the variables that come from secondary stats. This should also make for heated debates that don't involve numbers but strategy and situations.
What I mean is that talking about how many runs scored (ERA, FIP, etc.) is not the same (or as fun) as talking about how good the pitches a pitcher has thrown are. Discussing a batter's last ten results at the plate is not the same as talking about how good the batter's last ten at-bats were.
When I first saw Tommy throw his fastball that seems to just stick on the low outside corner, I knew he was good he was because of that pitch, not because of the K. When I saw how hard The Kid hit the ball in his first at-bat, I knew how good he was because of his strength, not because it was a HR. When I saw him steal second and he looked like a freaking jungle cat pouncing on its prey, I knew how good he was because of his speed, not because he got a SB.
I've only been reading here a few months, but the discussions usually seem to 'regress' into discussions of standard deviation and what's wrong with certain stats. I think a more focused look at the actual baseball side of the discussion would be much more rewarding (as this is a baseball site) by educating us all on the ins and outs of baseball. I've played a bit, and watching the little things that aren't mentioned in the stat sheets is the best part of the game.
For me, the small battles throughout the game are what makes baseball enjoyable to watch. I'm sure there are many people on here who see more of those little things than I do, and my main goal here is to encourage those aspects to be brought out in discussion more often so that I might enjoy watching the Braves even more than I currently do.
As an example. I've been a Braves fan for quite a while, and ever since we've had Hudson. As I mentioned, I've also been reading on here regularly for a few months and yet I don't really know what pitches Hudson throws, and what his best pitches are etc. I don't mean to cast blame on others for my ignorance, but it would be nice to read these kinds of discussions here more regularly. Instead of hearing that he will likely regress to his career stats for ERA and how meaningless that is, I'd like to talk about what he is doing well to produce those stats. (Not all success is due to random variation). This way we can know he is doing well by how his pitches look that day.
I just really think we are wasting all the baseball knowledge available on this site. I would really like to learn more about the game, rather than statistics to describe it, and I think everyone will benefit.
So I've looked up the pitches Hudson throws (2007). If I'm reading that right, he's got five pitches, a four-seam, slider, splitter, sinker, and a change-up.
Let's everyone watch the game tonight and see which pitch he throws the most effectively. Whether he dominates or not, I'd like to hear everyone's opinion of why, according to the pitches he's throwing and speculation as to why he threw those pitches in that situation. We should all yield to those with more pitching experience, but I think this discussion might give us all a better insight as to what our pitchers are trying to do on the mound, and make us all a bit more baseball savvy.
I'll even put up a poll. Go Braves!