Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From where the sun now stands ...

I shall talk no more about Freddy Garcia forever. This is tiresome.

But, since you insist on presenting your argument in the form of a poorly considered English 101 paper -- beginning with a dictionary definition, citing wikipedia, etc. -- I will present my counterargument as if I were grading your paper.


You clearly put a lot of effort into this assignment, and your paragraph organization is very strong. However, your thesis seems to have gotten way off-track at some point in the paper's writing -- wasn't your original argument that Freddy Garcia wouldn't succeed in the Phillies' new ballpark? You must have changed it when you realized how untenable your position was, which shows that you've paid attention during class discussions about the important of revision.

Unfortunately, your current argument about wins has some issues as well. You promise early on to somehow explain how wins don't reflect value to a team, but you deal with that only briefly, and your argument in that paragraph is weak. Saying that contributing to a team's "winning expectancy" is somehow more valuable than providing actual wins defies logic and good sense. You can contribute to your blackjack winning expectancy by playing smartly, but unless you actually win some hands, you're not getting any value.

Another thing I noticed is that you continue to imply that there is not a clear difference in meaning between the words "mediocre" and "average." You may want to consult a dictionary on that one: mediocre means "barely adequate" or "rather poor or inferior," while average means that something is close to the mean of a data set. They are similar in meaning, but the denotations are slightly different, and the connotations are significantly so.

Your next-to-last paragraph was a good example of effective argumentation. Solid effort on this draft. A few more revisions and it may have "A" potential.


I think I can briefly wrap up my take on this entire situation -- Freddy Garcia's potential performance and the role of Ws in determining a player's value -- with a couple more statistics.

You argue that Freddy Garcia won 17 games because the White Sox averaged 5.36 runs, meaning an average pitcher should win that many games. You also originally argued that Freddy Garcia would "suck pretty hard" for the Phillies because Citizen's Bank is a bandbox.

Well, the Phillies scored 5.34 runs per game, and their park is actually less of a factor than Garcia's old park, according to Park Factor. So there is absolutely no valid reason to be found via either statistic as to why Freddy Garcia will "probably suck pretty hard." In fact, Mr. Statman (is that "Scatman" song playing in anybody else's head right now?), the prediction those stats should be suggesting is that, given strikingly similar offensive support and a more favorable park, he will do as well or better than last year.

But I want to briefly address Doyle's Take 3.0, that whole argument about an average pitcher being able to win as many games as Freddy Garcia with a similar offense. Well, the Phillies had an almost identical offense -- a difference of three runs scored over the course of the entire season -- and Brett Myers led the team in wins with 12. The White Sox and the two teams with better offenses, the Yankees and the Indians, had a combined total of three pitchers who won as many games as Garcia:

Chien-Ming Wang (19)
Randy Johnson (17)
Jon Garland (18)

What does that tell us? Well, by your logic, every one of those teams has an entirely below-average pitching staff except for those three guys (who must be average), since they're the only ones who managed 17 wins with such great offenses.

So you're clearly right. Wins don't mean anything, Randy Johnson is average, and the entire Indians, Yankees, White Sox and Phillies pitching staffs -- including guys like Mussina, Contreras, Vazquez, Sabathia, Myers and Hamels -- are below average.

Or maybe wins do mean something, because only good pitchers -- even with a good offense -- win 17 games. You're right about the "good pitchers with bad records" argument. But show me a statistically significant amount of bad or mediocre or average pitchers who win 17 games, regardless of offense.

I bet you can't. Which means wins are a good -- not the best, maybe, but a good -- indicator of a pitcher's value. As for your ridiculous argument about what "value" means to a team, I addressed that earlier.

I hope we're done here.

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