So much for being magnaminous

The most annoying thing about the stat geeks is their arrogance, their firm belief that they’re right and everyone else is a hapless Neanderthal.

Exhibit Infinity 

If you think Venters is pretty much the same pitcher he was last year, minus luck, then be my guest. If you want to postulate that Derek Lowe was every bit as good as Huddy in 2011, that’s your prerogative. And if you choose to believe that Warren Spahn was primarily a knuckleball pitcher, well, I guess you’re entitled to your fantasy.

But don’t suggest that you know more than everyone else just because you have an algorithm that proves what should be as opposed to what is.

The statistically inclined need to realize it’s not so much the message that’s rejected but the messenger. If you really want to convince doubters, cool it with the condescension.

Otherwise you’ll be stuck in an eternal circle jerk with the Keith Laws of the world, sneering at us unenlightened folk who actually believe what we see with our own two eyes.

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15 thoughts on “So much for being magnaminous

  1. I agree–the level of discourse on this subject requires less condescension and arrogance. There’s a problem with you saying that, however–you can’t just call for more civility while using the phrase “the stat geeks” in the first sentence of the same post. Doing so is similarly inflammatory, derisive, and condescending. Moreover, starting off like that negates any belief readers have in what follows.

    I like the way Rowland’s Office covers the Braves. I also think Ben Duronio is one of the most thoughtful and reliable writers looking at the Braves at the moment. However, Rowland’s Office has twice now responded to Duronio in a less-than-convincing manner. The first time, the article on Venters was countered by arguing that you disagree with the statistics, yet no reasoning was provided. The second time, here, you make an argument akin to “this idiot is being mean by calling me an idiot.” I’m not going to question your reasons for maintaining anonymity on this site, but when your reaction takes such a form and you don’t take credit for it, it devalues your work to something like the Internet’s lowest common denominator, the message board.

  2. xFIP is an excellent tool to evaluate pitchers. But, as you say – if you really think Venters is the same pitcher as the previous pitcher and 2011 Lowe and Hudson were the same pitcher with only some luck driven divergence, well you’re closed minded and lazy.

  3. The won’t-even-come-to-the-table reaction of “I choose not to understand much of it” is what sounds pretty arrogant to me, and seems to run counter to saying “it’s not so much the message that’s rejected but the messenger.” There was nothing condescending about Duronio’s original analysis of Venters. I like this blog, but sometimes you seem to overreact to analysis you disagree with, using anger to mask your unwillingness to understand it.

  4. Me: No offense to CAC — which obviously puts a lot of work into their analysis and has a much larger audience than this blog — but I put zero credence in xFIP if it suggests JV is merely a victim of bad luck.

    Ben Duronio ‏@Ben_Duronio
    @colinake @gondeee @rowlandsoffice When someone chooses to be ignorant, they end up being pretty ignorant.

  5. I don’t regard Duronio as being all that great. Unlike Ben, Peter Hjort was a good writer. He actually watched games, which helped bring much needed nuance to his statistical analyses. His minor league scouting reports, much of which were based on first-hand observation, were fantastic. Duronio isn’t nearly as bright as Peter and the work coming out of there is a lot weaker. It’s too bad.

    If I want to argue the merits of xFIP with a 14-year-old, Capitol Avenue Club is an excellent venue for that. Not here.

  6. I have enough meaningless internet feuds of my own to deal with so I really don’t need to involve myself in any more, but I’ve been trying for a half hour to let this go but I can’t.

    Ben’s big point against Rowland’s Office in that post is that the stat geeks were right and RO was wrong about Jair Jurrjens. The article Ben links to claims that Jurrjens in ’11 might just have just been lucky because of BABIP and could come crashing down to earth in 2012 when the ‘regression fairy’ strikes. Here’s the problem: Jurrjens’ struggles this year have nothing to do with BABIP, it has to do with the fact that he has a bum knee and is trying to fight injury while re-learning how to pitch with orthotic inserts in his shoes. So in a weird way, Ben just reinforced RO’s point by focusing on an obscure statistic while completely ignoring the big picture.

    Stats are great tools for figuring out baseball players and Sabermetrics has done a lot to help understand baseball more fully. But that’s it… they are tools. They are not the sport. You don’t drive a car by staring at the dashboard gauges the whole time, you keep your eyes on the damn road and use the dash to help you drive more safely and efficiently. Trying to use stats to prove something unprovable just makes the stat community look bad. Venters has stunk so far this year and trying to claim that it’s not so bad because of xFIP and BABIP when you mention that is velocity is down this year in the very same article does not make the stat community look good.

  7. Glad to see dayf back here. I agree, completely and wholeheartedly, with his post above.

    I like Ben’s writing and he’s the kind of guy (like Law) who I take seriously and consider, even when I disagree with his conclusions. There are guys who hang in the comments section at Talking Chop who actually embody the snide, condescending stat geek stereotype far closer than he does.

    The comments on his post at CAC are pretty pathetic.

  8. Thanks Pepe. I love how they accuse me of getting personal then go on to comment:

    Ben, you should have just closed the article as soon as you read that. Because, due to his obvious ignorance, he’s going to read your post and fire something back that is probably more personal. Don’t get pulled into a war of words with someone unequipped to due battle…

    I have learned more from reading this site than I have reading any other site. You and the guys do a great job. Keep it up and don’t let morons get to you. …

    He is literally only looking at BA and slugging….. WOW. …

    M-O-R-O-N …

    The journalistic equivalent of Frediot?

    I lost a lot of respect for RO in the series of posts on this topic. Way too bitchy and personal. …

    Glad they didn’t get personal. And their smugness over Jurrjens — classy.

  9. I also choose not to “understand” much of the statistical analysis out there. That stuff gets tedious. Being a fan isn’t supposed to be laborious, and this isn’t some quest for cosmic truth.
    I can draw my own conclusions. I am often wrong, but that’s part of the fun, too.

  10. “The statistically inclined need to realize it’s not so much the message that’s rejected but the messenger.”

    Rejected? I wonder how CAC’s readership compares to ROs? Who’s being rejected?

  11. Which I acknowledged in my original post (re: CAC’s readership). Interesting that you guys claim I’m getting personal or assume that I will yet, in the comments section on CAC everyone’s calling me an idiot or moron.

    Enjoy your bubble.

  12. So a more accurate statement may be that readers embrace CAC’s analysis and reject your willful ignorance in regards to advanced metrics?

  13. Willful ignorance:

    “Willful ignorance is the state and practice of ignoring any sensory input that appears to contradict one’s inner model of reality. At heart, it is almost certainly driven by confirmation bias.

    It differs from the standard definition of “ignorance“ — which just means that one is unaware of something — in that willfully ignorant people are fully aware of facts, resources and sources, but refuse to acknowledge them.

    Depending on the nature and strength of an individual’s pre-existing beliefs, willful ignorance can manifest itself in different ways. The practice can entail completely disregarding established facts, evidence and/or reasonable opinions if they fail to meet one’s expectations. Often excuses will be made, stating that the source is unreliable, that the experiment was flawed or the opinion is too biased. More often than not this is simple circular reasoning; “I cannot agree with that source because it is untrustworthy because it disagrees with me”.

    In other, slightly more extreme cases, willful ignorance can involve outright refusal to read, hear or study in any way anything that does not conform to the person’s worldview.”

    That last sentence sums it up pretty well.

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