Whitlock: Stat geeks ‘ruining sports’

Amen Brother Whitlock, one of the better sports columnists out there.

There’s a stat for nearly every action in baseball. Little is left to the imagination. Sports were never intended to be a computer program, stripped to cold, hard, indisputable, statistical facts. Sports — particularly for fans — are not science. Sports, like art, are supposed to be interpreted.

It’s difficult to interpret baseball these days. The stat geeks won’t let you argue. They quote sabermetrics and end all discussion. Is so-and-so a Hall of Famer? The sabermeticians will punch in the numbers and give you, in their mind, a definitive answer. …

The nerds are winning. They’re stealing the game from those of us who enjoy examining the gray areas of sports. We’re about 10 years away from a computer program that will write stats-based opinion pieces on sports.

How do the stat geeks respond? Typically.

If you want to read a dumb, reactionary column about how statistics have ruined sports and that people who use statistics should “STFU,” by all means, go read Jason Whitlock’s latest thing over at Fox.  Just know ahead of time that it  is aggressively stupid, profoundly lazy and provides no insight whatsoever.  Even if you hate stats and are looking for ammo in that argument, you’ll find nothing there. It says a lot about Jason Whitlock’s personal aversion to thinking hard about sports, but not much else.

But I mention it anyway because I really find myself wondering what should be done when such drivel is encountered.

(Thanks to Caz for the link)

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2 Comments on Whitlock: Stat geeks ‘ruining sports’

  1. I’m at a point where a see an article with ANY stats and I discount it immediately. I’m also sure that most people who rely solely on sabremetrics to discuss baseball have never picked up a bat or put on a glove.

    While reading the response to Whitlock’s article, I found this…


  2. I’m still not sure how using OPS, FIP or WAR is any different from using AVG, RBI or ERA except that you’re measuring different things.

    Yeah, a snob is a snob, but it works both ways (pro-stats or anti-stats) and if I’m working in baseball, I want access to as much information as possible. (scouting reports, number crunching, you name it!)

    Moneyball is about a team that was too broke to afford five-tool players, so they spent their resources mitigating risk. Just about every team does this now.

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