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HoF Debate: Bill James

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Postby Matthias » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:58 pm

DK wrote:
Matthias wrote:Agree. At a minimum, you have to be associated with a baseball franchise. And yah, despite the fact that he's now doing some consulting work for the Red Sox but no.


This is the weirdest logic I've ever heard. You have to be associated with a baseball franchise to be part of the HoF, and James is associated with a baseball franchise, so for that reason, we should keep him out. :-?


Fine. Sentence edited for you. Sheesh.

My point is that the baseball HoF is for those involved with baseball, not those involved on things revolving around baseball. I'm not going to induct whatever architest/landscaper who planted the ivy in Wrigley. Or as was already mentioned the Rawlings family.

He just hasn't contributed anything to baseball. His contributions have been in spheres outside of the game. And that's why the suggestion that he be inducted is silly, quite frankly.
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Postby d18Mike » Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:50 pm

He's in. Absolutely.

But not necessarily the main Hall -- he'll get in the writers/broadcasters section. That also means they can take their sweet time putting him there.

What may play against him is the fact he has/is forever blasting the HOF selection process and has come down hard on writer/voter stupidity and the cronyism that gave use Rick Ferrell, Geo. Kelley et al.

Hard to see him being welcomed with open arms with that track record of antagonism, and often the not-very-nice variety.

It will take a generation or so before he gets his due. But he'll get in. Somewhere
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Postby noseeum » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:14 pm

Matthias wrote:
DK wrote:
Matthias wrote:Agree. At a minimum, you have to be associated with a baseball franchise. And yah, despite the fact that he's now doing some consulting work for the Red Sox but no.


This is the weirdest logic I've ever heard. You have to be associated with a baseball franchise to be part of the HoF, and James is associated with a baseball franchise, so for that reason, we should keep him out. :-?


Fine. Sentence edited for you. Sheesh.

My point is that the baseball HoF is for those involved with baseball, not those involved on things revolving around baseball. I'm not going to induct whatever architest/landscaper who planted the ivy in Wrigley. Or as was already mentioned the Rawlings family.

He just hasn't contributed anything to baseball. His contributions have been in spheres outside of the game. And that's why the suggestion that he be inducted is silly, quite frankly.


He has made a direct contribution to baseball by waking all GMs in the game up to the fact that BA, HR, and RBI are not the end all be all in evaluating talent.

Without his abstracts, sabermetrics never would have hit the mainstream. Sure, newspapers still show BA, and the awards are based on BA, but every GM is already using plenty of sabermetric stats. It might not be so well known from the every day fan, but the industry of baseball has been completely turned on its head because of it.

How much more of a direct contribution can you have then that?

It's like Tex Shram for the Cowboys in the 70s. He happened to work for a team, but he's in the hall because he changed the way ALL teams evaluate players. James did that for baseball.

Sure, others were working on similar problems, but it was James' abstracts that made it crossover into the game.
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Postby wrveres » Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:32 am

NO!

Hell No!
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Postby Mookie4ever » Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:03 am

Amazinz wrote:I say no.

James is only responsible for a fraction of the ideas termed sabermetrics. Even though his name has become synonymous with the research, I think that a strong case could be made that there are others in the field that have been far more influential. Does James deserve bonus points simply because his name is so familiar?

I do think that it’s valid to consider James one of the pioneers of sabermetrics but I question whether or not sabermetrics research has influenced the game of baseball enough. My personal opinion is that it has not. The fact that batting average is still the popular standard for hitters is evidence in that regard.

My final point deals with the worth of sabermetrics. I am a big fan of sabermetrics and baseball stats in general. I love playing with numbers and never get tired of reading new theories on how to accurately measure the worth of fielders. But I also have to admit that most conclusions achieved through sabermetrics are “fuzzy”. I don’t think there have been enough concrete proofs. Sabermetrics has revolutionized the way we look at baseball statistics but in my opinion it has not yet revolutionized the way we understand the game.


Great post. I agree.
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Postby noseeum » Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:20 am

Mookie4ever wrote:
Amazinz wrote:My final point deals with the worth of sabermetrics. I am a big fan of sabermetrics and baseball stats in general. I love playing with numbers and never get tired of reading new theories on how to accurately measure the worth of fielders. But I also have to admit that most conclusions achieved through sabermetrics are “fuzzy”. I don’t think there have been enough concrete proofs. Sabermetrics has revolutionized the way we look at baseball statistics but in my opinion it has not yet revolutionized the way we understand the game.


Great post. I agree.


I disagree.

Wade Boggs is a perfect example of a player from the past who had some years taken away from him because management didn't think he was any good. The criteria used to judge a player back then was not adequate to realize his value. Boston kept holding him back. He was so obviously great that he finally pushed through, but if he came up now, he would be in the major two or three years sooner than back then, because of sabermetrics.

Youkilis is another example. He might not have even made the majors. Not much power. No speed. He can walk. Yippee. Send him home. Now he's contributing to a playoff contender.

We have no idea how many players like this never got a chance to play in the majors, their AAA roster spots being taken by guys who looked like they could be five toolers.

Another example is high school pitchers. For 20 years, they always got picked first and paid the big bucks. Not no more. Back then, it was just something you did. You drafted potential. Well, someone decided to analyze the value of that and realized 9 times out of 10, it was a wasted pick.

Not anymore. The change is dramatic. MLB front offices' understanding of what it takes to win a game has dramatically improved since the late 70s. And now that most of these guys are working for teams, you can bet that there are formulas in use throughout baseball that none of us even know about.

The main revolution is that a scout can no longer come into a GM and say "this guy's got it. We need to draft him." and expect him to be picked. You now need solid evidence to back up your hunches if you're evaluating talent. That's a sea change if you ask me.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:42 pm

A lot of that stuff though HAS been done in baseball front offices for a LONG time. Branch Rickey was maybe ahead of his time but kept a close eye on the minors when he was in the Cards' organization. "The Spirit of St. Louis" is an interesting account of how they were kind of doing Moneyball in the 1930s. I can't recall the details that much (as I loaned it to one of my Cardinal buddies a while ago...) but there goal was to run a team on the cheap and still be competitive.
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Postby johnsamo » Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:03 pm

Plus, I also think sabermetrics was an evolutionary thing that was going to happen anyway with the advent of the computer analysis, so he got in the door early on it, I think we'd have it anyway without him.
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Postby looptid » Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:29 pm

DK wrote:
looptid wrote:James has done more than anyone else to popularize statistical analisys in baseball, but he built on the work of others that came before him. There were other runs created models before James published his Abstracts, and Win Shares has its flaws. Unmatched, no. Important, yes.


Not really. There were no RC formats that even came close to working as well as James's did, Branch Rickey had some interesting theories but nowhere close to James's work. WS has definite flaws as does every metric but it set the framework for guys like Palmer and TangoTiger.


Fredinand Cole Lane of Baseball Magazine began work on a runs created model shortly after the 1915 season, originally trying to demonstrate the value of power hitting over just average. From Allan Schwarz The Numbers Game:

Over several yeras, and through several more long and increasingly sanctimonious articles Lane refined his approach to value singles as worth .457 runs, doubles .786, triples 1.15, and home runs 1.55. These values are almost exactly the same as those that statistician Pete Palmer, working some 60 years later on a method called Liner Weights, came up with through sophisticated computer regression analysis.


Earnshaw Cook's Percentage Baseball, published in 1964, also contains a runs created model built on play-by-play data, but is packed with numbers and a very dry read.
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Postby noseeum » Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:59 pm

johnsamo wrote:Plus, I also think sabermetrics was an evolutionary thing that was going to happen anyway with the advent of the computer analysis, so he got in the door early on it, I think we'd have it anyway without him.


This is unfair to James. Sure, if Branch Rickey didn't come along, we would have eventually gotten black players into MLB, but we still give Rickey credit for it.

Of course statistical analysis would eventually have to become important in baseball, but you still credit the people who made it happen. Without him ignoring naysayers and self publishing his abstract, seeing demand increase tenfold in three years, sabermetrics wouldn't be where it is today in baseball. It would be 20 years behind.
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