As far back as I could remember, there was something my father always used to say to me whenever I became too obsessed with things whether it was spending too much money on baseball cards, eating too much on Thanksgiving, watching too much television, or just hanging out too much with my friends. “Everything in moderation,” he’d always say
I was reminded of that this evening in a very indirect way when I came across this tweet from ESPN’s Pedro Gomez and also the reply to it from Kevin Kernan of the NY Post – one of my current favorite sports writers.
Check it out…
My first reaction was one of curiosity, I wished Gomez was following me because I so desperately was seeking a follow-up tweet that never came. I wanted to direct message him to find out what compelled him to say that without drawing any additional attention to it because I knew I wanted to write about this.
Kevin’s response made me laugh because I’m a huge Twilight Zone fan, but the analogy seemed very fitting considering how many fans are still bewildered by OBP and OPS.
I took a quick look at the stats, and even with David Wright leading his team with a .438/.526/.750 slash line, Team USA posted a very weak .688 OPS overall. I couldn’t believe it was that bad.
In stark contrast, the Dominicans had an overwhelming .811 OPS as a team, with most of that coming from their sheer power numbers. And if you think that’s impressive, the Cubans had a .991 OPS to lead the entire tournament.
Captain America’s exploits aside, Team USA did do one thing very well offensively – they drew a lot of walks – 22 of them in just six contests. However they only managed one home run – you all remember the one, right?
In a similar six game span, the Dominicans blasted seven homers, but it was the Cubans that stunned them all with 11 home runs to lead the circuit.
Let me interject one thing here – small sample size. Nevertheless, it’s still very impressive.
Team USA had some great hitters, with many of them known for having great on-base percentages. But what they seemed to lack most were pure sluggers. They did have Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton, but both came up short in the competition.
I think that one of the problems with metrics like OBP and even WAR, is that too many see them as the be-all, end-all, and clearly that’s not the case at all.
I was absolutely stunned during the Hall of Fame vote when Ken Davidoff used WAR to exclude Mike Piazza from his HOF Ballot and used OBP to include Kenny Lofton. Davidoff caught a lot of flack for it, deservedly so, and he later admitted that he erred and that it wouldn’t happen again in 2014. I believe him.
The real problem is this… How many more Ken Davidoffs are out there?
How many people in front office positions or in managerial/coaching jobs are as like-minded as Davidoff, and build their teams or write their lineup cards based on the same misguided methodology?
Am I saying that we should just disregard all this data, both new and old?
Of course not, let’s not go crazy here. Obviously OBP, OPS and WAR have all found their place in the national pastime and are quite useful in many different ways. There’s no question about that.
I guess what I’m saying here is what my dad always used to tell me… Everything in moderation.