Yes, Shaughnessy, There Are Statistics

I am 55 years old.
Some of my writer friends say there are no advanced baseball statistics.
Bill James says, "If you see it on YFSF, it's so."
Please tell me the truth: Are there statistics?

DAN SHAUGHNESSY
135 MORRISEY BOULEVARD

DAN,

Your writer friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of advanced age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Dan, whether they be sportswriters' or bloggers', are little. In this great game of ours, memory is a mere insect, an ant, and man's intellect can betray him while numbers can help shed more light on the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, DAN, there are advanced baseball statistics. They exist as certainly as batting average and home runs and RBI exist, and you know that they abound and give to your work its pretense of knowledge and accuracy. Alas! How dreary would be the game if there were no advanced statistics. It would be as dreary as if there were no DANS J.D. DREWS. There would be no objective way to measure the elite ability of one of the game's best right fielders last season, no deeper understanding of the game, no insight to enhance the game that makes tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which laptop monitors fill the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in statistics! You might as well not believe in Microsoft Excel! You might get your publisher to hire writers to talk to all the players Jim Rice ever faced, but even if they could not show how Jim Rice was feared, what would that prove? Nobody sees Jim Rice's fear, but that is no sign that there is no Jim Rice. The most real things in the world are those that measure the things that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see Derek Jeter make a play to his right [left]? Of course not, but that's no proof that he never has. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the statistics that are uninvented and uninventable in the world.

You may talk to Theo Epstein and discuss J.D. Drew's personality to see what makes him go inside, but there is a veil covering your understanding of the game which not the strongest mathematician, not even the united strength of all the sabermetricians that ever lived, could tear apart. Only OPS, OPS+, UZR, ERA+, Win Values can push aside that curtain and view and picture the objective data beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Dan, in all this world there is nothing else more real and abiding.

No statistics! Thank God! They live, and they live forever. A thousand years from now, Dan, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, they will continue to make glad the followers of baseball.

4 comments… add one

  • “Did you ever see Derek Jeter make a play to his right?”
    what those fancy stats of yours don’t tell you is that it’s to Derek’s left!

    Nick-YF February 25, 2009, 7:00 am
  • I wish I had more to say about this, but all I can add is: well done Paul. That was a delightful read with the morning coffee.

    Atheose - SF February 25, 2009, 7:08 am
  • Who is Dan Shaughnessy?

    SF February 25, 2009, 8:56 am
  • Who, for that matter, is Karim Garcia?

    Pedro February 25, 2009, 9:08 am

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