Thursday, April 29, 2010
Is the win a useless statistic?Posted by Pat Andriola
There's a mini-discussion going on in the Twitterverse/blogosphere surrounding the usefulness of the "win" as a statistic. Here are some of the opinions:
Daily News columnist Jesse Spector:
The win is accessible - a single number whose meaning is known on some level by everyone from the casual fan to the diehard. The more you know, the less it tells you, and like everything else, wins must be taken in the context of their era. But as one of the statistical cornerstones of a game whose beauty is in its towering history, the win cannot simply be dismissed as useless.
I just don't see the utility. They're incredibly imperfect. You can "earn" a win or a save despite horrible results...Then our job is to educate the casual fans. Pretending W/SV/RBI are still useful does them a disservice.
Whenever a manager holds his best reliever for a "save" spot rather than using him in a tight spot, he puts indiv. above team...Pitcher "wins" and saves are not simply benignly "useless," they actively encourage bad decisions.
Fangraphs' Jack Moore:
I'm fine with "why does player X have Y wins?" analysis.But saying "X is good because of Y wins" is unacceptable at this point
Baseball Analysts' Pat Sullivan:
But wins / saves are only important if we continue to assign value to them. Why not a more meaningful stat be the "baseline"?
I'm on board with almost everyone in some sense, but mostly with Colin and Keith. Look, talking to casual fans about advanced stats and getting them interested in fantastic. I'm all for it. However, we shouldn't give them an imaginary carrot to chase in the form of "yeah, wins can be useful, but have you seen this stat...", when we know that wins are simply nonsense. They are arbitrary measurements of basically no relevance. If we want to attract casual fans to sabermetrics, then instead explain why wins are useless! I mean, isn't this one of the purposes of advanced analysis, to put to bed illogical analysis in favor of intelligent, reason-based analysis? Pretending that wins have meaning actively harms the objective nature of sabermetrics, and I won't sacrifice that to win over some casual fans who will be learning misinformation.