November 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
I thought I’d never had to write this article. I thought we (the baseball community) had come far enough. I didn’t want to write this article, either. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading this earlier this morning. It’s a piece by Mike Silva (not to be confused with Drew Silva, a competent writer and contributor at Rotoworld and MLB Trade Rumors among others) entitled “MLB Exec: Moneyball is a Flop” at the NY Baseball Digest. Mike Silva (I’m forced to use his entire name for the rest of this article to prevent confusion, but I’m willing to do that) uses the following quote from a predictably nameless “high ranking official with one of the 30 MLB clubs” to make his point:
Among other sewage that has oozed to the surface is the erroneous belief that statistics are the end-all in baseball today, a myth perpetrated by the garbage called “MoneyBall.” Moneyball geniuses have flopped like DePodesta, Ricciardi, and even the infamous Billy Beane whose exploits have all lacked a World Series trophy. It is all a tool to be used by the uninitiated. I’ll take a good scout and player development people anytime; the statistics are very secondary. How do you account a .220 hitter for being the hero of the World Series or a guy who hits three home runs a year wins the pennant clincher with a home run? Pitchers often get the best of hitters in the playoffs. There are a million examples of things going against the logic of statistical analysis
Mike Silva adds some and steps away from the quote from a bit, but I want to address that quote, specifically. Here was my response:
the erroneous belief that statistics are the end-all in baseball today
No sane person believes that. Sounds like an attack from some immature player development guru who feels threatened by the sabermetric community. In reality, there’s plenty of common ground between the two groups. Absolutely no reason for him to get all defensive like that. I’m sure he’s glad you didn’t publish his name because he looks like a fool.
Intelligent people quit doing the stats vs. scouting argument years ago. It’s not a me vs. them thing, anymore. Trying to draw out that facet of the discussion demonstrates this person’s immaturity.
Smart people realize that both groups can contribute to the success of a baseball franchise and value their contributions accordingly. Ignorant people continue to try and make it personal and refuse to value the contributions of others.
Yes, this happens on both sides of the debate, of course, but that doesn’t mutually excuse it. Two sides acting foolish doesn’t mean they’re both correct for doing so. It means they’re both foolish. The unnamed “high ranking official” is being foolish.
“I’ll take a good scout and player development people anytime”
I will, too, given the choice BETWEEN the two, but why not have both? It’s silly not to use all of the resources at your disposal. This response was clearly given by an ignorant person working in a dumb organization (most likely the Mets). An organization that would rather lose than acknowledge the fact that people that have never played baseball–though much smarter than a great deal of the people involved with scouting/player development today–are just as valuable as they are when it comes to roster construction.
Why would you print such a silly argument? There are PLENTY of smart, successful baseball executives working in competent organizations that would give you a correct and intelligent response. Why print this (when it was clearly given in anger by a most likely unqualified, uneducated individual working in a bad front office)? I see only two reasons:
1) You’re trying to increase page views by ruffling a few feathers. Which is fine, I guess, it’s a business. Or…
2) You’re trying to encourage ignorance. And that is simply unforgivable. I hope nobody takes this seriously, either way.
Let’s just put an end to this right now. Let’s stop having this discussion. Scouting and player development is crucial to the success of a MLB franchise and can’t be replaced by statistical analysis. Statistical analysis is crucial to the success 0f a MLB franchise and can’t be replaced by scouting and player development. They’re both important, they’re both valuable, they’re both irreplaceable. There’s no reason the two parties should be arguing over which is superior. Instead, they should be working together towards the common goal–building a competent baseball organization. The end.
Links/AFL Report is on the way. Don’t fret.