Saturday, December 09, 2006

I also enjoy your wrongness.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you with my lack of vitriol. Perhaps it's because I'm so clearly right that I don't feel I need it to make my case. I'll try to be more harsh. Bitch.

Re: swapping an uncertain future for a mediocre present, I find it hard to believe that you really think Freddy Garcia isn't better than Gavin Floyd, the only other person in the trade who might realistically contribute in the major leagues in 2007. I think you're just being argumentative for the sake of it. If you'd like to even attempt to support that with any statistics, however esoteric or bizarre, I'm all ears.

In fact, I still have yet to see you really support this "Freddy Garcia is mediocre" argument. He gives up 1.3 homers a game. OK. But that stat by itself doesn't mean anything. In the best 2-year stretch of his career, during which he finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting both years, Curt Schilling had a 1.15 HR/9. Does that make him mediocre? No. Know why? Because he went 45-13 during that time.

But I forgot: WINS ARE A TEAM STAT. THEY ARE A POOR INDICATION OF A PITCHER'S ABILITY. Right. We should all judge pitchers solely on HR/9 innings and Park Factor instead. Let's just make those the Cy Young criteria.

While wins might be a poor indication of a pitcher's ability, quantifying ability independent of value to a team is perhaps the most asinine pursuit possible. And wins are the best indicator of a pitcher's value to a team. I know I'm stealing RF's argument, but name me a good pitcher who doesn't have a winning record. Then name me a bad pitcher with 17 wins. You can't do either. Freddy Garcia won 17 games last year. He's not a bad pitcher.

I'll even try to answer for you: Eric Milton, a bad pitcher, went 14-6 in 2004. Except he wasn't a bad pitcher that year. His stats were slightly worse than average -- not the same as mediocre, BTW -- but he won a lot of games. That indicates that he pitched well enough to win (which brings us back to your inconceivable argument, long ago, that pitchers will not pitch any differently in different game situations, but I digress). If that's not a pretty decent year in your eyes, then you need to stop doing so much accounting. That doesn't make him a good pitcher, but it's a good year. He was valuable to his team.

We've been through this approximately 100,000 times now, but this all comes down to the same thing all our arguments come down to: you grossly overstate the importance of isolated sabermetric or modern or advanced or whatever statistics, while simultaneously overstating the unimportance of traditional stats. The stats you love to rely on -- ERA+, park factor, HR/9, VORP, or whatever it is this week -- are probably better at quantifying a player's ability. But neither statistics nor ability are worth anything in a vacuum.

Yes, wins are a team stat. Baseball is a team sport. The only value a player has is value to a team. And wins are excellent at quantifying a pitcher's value to a team. So, in response to your ridiculous assertion that Freddy Garcia wasn't good because of his HR/9 innings, I will say the following:

Freddy Garcia won 17 games for his team last year. In his career, he has won 62 percent of his decisions.

That's all I need to say.

As far as the team improvement thing, that's another example of where pure stat-crunching comes up short. Comparing Garcia to the average MLB pitcher does no good whatsoever for the Phillies, because that's making the erroneous assumption that if you removed Garcia, the Phillies would otherwise be starting an imaginary pitcher who embodies averageness. Not the case. They'd be replacing him with Gavin Floyd or somebody similarly bad. So it's indisputably an improvement.

There's a difference between averageness and mediocrity. And if your best argument for saying Freddy Garcia is a bad pitcher is that he was slightly above average in some stats and slightly below average in others, that's a pretty shitty argument. His stats were average and he won 17 games. He's a good pitcher. Case closed.

Incidentally, Moyer's performance for the Phillies last year, while a small sample size, also undermines your use of him as an example of somebody who's going to suck for them.

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