I was a guest of Brendan Wiese and Nick Barrale of The Benchwarmers on KFNS 590 The Fan. I also appeared on their St. Louis late night sports talk show in June and July.
We discussed counting stats with an emphasis on the pros and cons of RBI. I mentioned the importance of context, opportunities, and outs.
We should be counting the number of outs. There aren't very many people out there who know who's leading the league in outs or who's leading the league in the fewest outs created. We always count things — hits, doubles, triples, home runs — but we really should be counting how often a player makes an out because a team only has 27 outs; that's the currency of baseball and giving up an out is very costly to a team. I wish we all paid more attention not only to the positive side of counting stats but the negative side as well.
I was also asked about whether players such as Derek Jeter are "clutch" (which is one of my least favorite subjects) and OPS as it relates to positions. The final ten minutes were focused on pitching stats, including strikeouts, walks, and home runs (and groundball rates). Due to the location of the radio station as well as Dave Allen's insightful piece on Friday, we examined Joel Pineiro in depth and the difference between pitching to contact and missing bats.
I like guys who strike batters out because then you don't need any defensive players behind you. But, that said, a pitcher like Joel Pineiro can succeed if he throws strikes, which he throws strikes better than anybody else in baseball this year — he's walking fewer batters than anyone else — and if he also keeps the ball on the ground. He's keeping the ball on the ground about as well as anybody else in baseball this year. Both his walk and groundball rates are career bests right now and that's why he's doing so well this year. But his margin of error is really pretty small. If Pineiro doesn't have his pinpoint control and he gets that ball up a little bit, he's going to be more apt to give up home runs, which he hasn't been giving up at all this year. I believe he's only given up three home runs all season, which is just incredible. But, in years past, for example, he has walked more batters and given up more home runs. So, if he is a little bit off, he's going to get hit because he doesn't throw pitches that miss bats.
While Wiese enjoys and appreciates advanced metrics, his sidekick is a non-believer. After we exchanged thank yous at the end of the segment, Barrale concluded with the following diatribe.
I still say you get a better idea how a guy plays and how a team plays by just watching them. You don't need all these statistical numbers. The only reason why they have them is because people can't see the games and so they try to come up with their own conclusions by just adding and subtracting and dividing and multiplying numbers.
The audio file can be accessed through The Daily Rewind this weekend or by clicking on the play button directly below.