July 18, 2012
Without Access, Favor, or Discretion

Deadspin, who’s normally pretty good at finding the ridiculous missteps made by others, really misfired tonight with these two pieces:

Why Aaron Cook And His Two Strikeouts Are A Nightmare For Sabermetrics

and

Jon Heyman Doesn’t Want To Pay For Your Damn Baseball Knowledge

The article on Cook is full of silly assertions, but its biggest shortcoming is that it treats 29 IP as gospel, while it mostly ignores the 1300 or so previous innings that Cook has thrown. Innings that, for the most part, show that sabermetricians have a pretty good idea of what Aaron Cook is. 

A fundamental tenant of sabermetrics, and any statistical analysis really, is sample size. Any sabermetrician (or person who’s paid much attention to baseball from any angle) could tell you that 29 innings can’t tell you shit. Lots of pitchers have had totally fluky strikeout numbers over a random 29 inning stretch and lots of those pitchers have been successful over that same stretch. 

There’s several other things I could go after here, but I’d rather keep it brief. I’m not sure I intend for this to be a place for a lot of serious analysis.

It’s just a classic case of somebody attacking sabermetrics without bothering first to understand some of the underlying principles. It’s lazy and it’s been giving a traffic-boosting headline to boot.

The Heyman article is a series of tweets that were (I think) fairly obviously lighthearted and jokey. They’ve taken out of context to make Heyman look like an asshole. Heyman might very well be an asshole, but this is a pretty cheap shot. The kind of amateurish cheap shot that Deadspin would delight in tearing apart had it appeared on ESPN. 

Like I said, I’m not sure I want this to be a place for any sort of serious analysis, but when a site that tends to position itself as a media watchdog throws this much crap at the wall in one night, I feel compelled to say something.