As Brewers Take 2-0 Lead In NLDS, GM Melvin Comes Down Hard On Sabermetrics

An article by posted on October 3, 2011

As the Brewers find themselves with a 2-0 lead in the NLDS and on the verge of advancing to the NLCS, consider these comments General Manager Doug Melvin made two weeks ago regarding sabermetrics.

“I think there’s a point where people are looking to find the new stat. It’s like going into a science lab and looking for the new experiment. I don’t think there’s any perfect model that you can find based on strictly statistics.”

Melvin uses some stats to make player personnel decision but believes that most of the new stats can be misleading.

“Because the conditions are never the same in the games. The fields are never the same, ballpark effects, injuries. There are certain things I look at as far as statistics, but there’s a number of them where I don’t think there’s enough proof yet that they’re rock-solid and this is the way to go.”

When asked specifically about on-base percentage, Melvin had the following to say:

“When you’re talking on base percentage, .280 to .320 sounds like a huge difference. 28 percent to 32 percent. That’s four times more on base per 100 at-bats. So you get a guy who goes up there looking for walks. He might get four more walks than the guy who swings the bat four times.”

He further explains why he’d rather have the player who swings four times over the player who looks for walks. “He gets twice as many doubles as the guy who’s looking for walks. He puts himself in scoring position, moves runners over. Makes contact, creating a chances a defender could make an error. Only four times more over 100 at bats? You gotta be real careful looking at what else the guy is doing.”

Melvin does admit using certain metrics and refrained from saying which ones he uses but did add, “There are so many out there (sabermetric stats) that I know there were a few decisions this year that if I had made off of metrics we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Melvin had a lot more to say to FOX Sports’ Mark Concannon, and talks about the pitfalls of using advanced metrics to predict performance, putting too much stock in minor league stats, and losing sight of important things like the players makeup, physical skills and even good old-fashioned luck.

He also says all these new stats are great for fantasy league players, but that he’s not running a fantasy team. Ultimately, he would love to see a televised debate pitting the saber people on one side versus the scouting people on the other.

Pretty wild stuff… The Brewers are one win away from sweeping the Divisional Series and facing the winner of Phillies/Cards series for the National League pennant and a trip to the World Series. Have at it…

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