The thing about these advanced statistics is that they are a unbiased evaluations of a player. It doesn't show you if the player is performing with flair or a very simple style of play. Similarly it doesn't tell you about a players character, that's where scouts come in. Nor does it tell you about a players mechanics, which could be good, see Chad Bradford in Moneyball, but could be bad, see Gentry in Trouble with the curve. They simply allow a scout or GM to look at a player purely by the numbers, and in most cases more accurately than scouts have in the past as numbers like Batting Average and RBI's may not tell the whole story.
But, as with anything good, we are approaching a time in the sport where we may be approaching too much of a good thing. While OBP and Slugging percentage and even OPS are great evaluations of a players value to a team, we are also adding statistics that attempt to assign a value to the number of wins a player adds or subtracts from a team. We have statistics that estimate what a Pitchers ERA would be if we took away all the defense behind them. While these are really useful statistics in estimating a players worth, it also takes away from certain players value. Let's take a pitcher like Kyle Lohse... Sabremetrics hate him. The fielder independent ERA is focused largely on walks, home runs and strike outs. When you are a pitcher like Lohse who nibbles at the corners and attempts to get weak contact off the bat, your fielding independent ERA will not be as favorable as say a pitcher who is a heavy strike out pitcher. Similarly, there is no way to quantify the affect of a catcher on a pitching staff. A player like Yadier Molina, who works with a primarily young pitching staff has a greater impact on the game than say a catcher working primarily with veterans. The calling of pitches and the effect Molina has on a teams running game do not factor into his WAR (wins above replacement) but would anyone argue that he is a linchpin in the Cardinals organization. And I don't even want to get into the 3 or 4 different statistics that supposedly rate the value of a player defensively which all calculate his runs saved differently. Which brings us back to the original question, are we reaching a point where we have too many statistics in sports... are we at a point where the statistics cloud the view of the game on the field? I personally think that we are flirting with that line to say the least. When evaluating players for an All-Star game, WAR is a tough number to use to compare to players when we are talking about guys who squeaked in or got snubbed. Is a Devin Mesoraco really better than Russel Martin or Yadier Molina? According to WAR yes, but if you needed to win this season or next... who would you pick?
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Thanks for reading,
-T.O. signing out