The Best Few Paragraphs I’ve Read Today

The honor goes to Ken Rosenthal.

Don’t get me wrong. Sabermetricians have significantly broadened our understanding of baseball — and by “our,” I mean fans, media and club personnel, virtually everyone in the game. Advanced statistics reveal not only tendencies, but also greater truths. Smart teams effectively combine sabermetric principles with scouting orthodoxy. Very few, if any, disregard the numbers entirely.

Here’s the problem: Sabermetricians were ignored for so long, they had to shout to be heard. Now they are getting heard — properly heard in the highest levels of baseball media and front offices. But some continue to shout, dismissing those who disagree as ignorant dolts….

Baseball sparks the liveliest discussions of any sport, invites a myriad of perspectives. Slavishly adhering to sabermetric dogma reduces the level of discourse. We’re talking about an MVP race, not geopolitics. We’re supposed to debate. Good, old- fashioned quarrels are part of what makes the game fun.

My take.

5 Responses “The Best Few Paragraphs I’ve Read Today”

  1. P. W. Hjort says:

    I generally don’t like Rosenthal’s work, but he couldn’t be more right.

  2. Chad D says:

    It’s all about value, not stats. For example, a Derek Jeter signed baseball has a very different value to a Yankees fan than a Red Sox fan. Stats can help but there should always be a intangible value given to the winning MVP.

  3. Rob Neyer’s response:

    “In fact, in sabermetrics there’s really no such thing as groupthink. If you’ve spent any real time with sabermetricians, you know exactly what I mean.

    Is there a consensus among sabermetricians that Joe Mauer deserves the MVP? Yeah, probably. But “consensus” is not the same as “groupthink.”

    Not nearly the same. Groupthink (according to The Big W) is “a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.”

    That’s the exact opposite of sabermetrics, which at its very heart is nothing but critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.”–sabermetrics–and-Joe-Mauer.html

    Ken Rosenthal’s opinion on new media is hardly something to get behind considering some of his other poorly thought out arguments.

  4. JC says:

    I like Neyer, but “in sabermetrics there’s really no such thing as groupthink”? What sabermetrics is and what it strives to be are two different things. All groups suffer from groupthink, sabermetrics is no different than other groups. Rosenthal isn’t denying advances made by sabermetrics—he seems to agree that Mauer is his choice for MVP (as is mine)—but taking on the unnecessarily arrogant tone with regard to the correctness of certain tenets that are pushed by its club members. Flooding the inboxes of sports writers with VORP-laden snarky commentary doesn’t help the movement. Sabermetrics includes some science, but it is not all objective analysis immune from clubish behavior motivated by social aspects.


  1. […] everyone’s throat relentlessly and discouraging debate on the issue.  Both Rob Neyer and JC Bradbury (and Bradbury followed up Neyer’s response with another of his own) wrote responses to the […]