First Grade Math Is Hard.

First, I don’t think Miggy winning the MVP is a travesty since he is awesome at hitting, very valuable in his own right, and on the verge of “winning the Triple Crown,” which has a hypnotic effect on a bunch of people. I think Trout is clearly the correct choice, but it’s not like Miggy is Terry Pendleton.

This article (by Bob Nightengale) is terrible.

Colin Wyers already  ripped it a bunch on Twitter and Rob Neyer pointed out this bit of, oh, let’s call it poor phrasing, but to truly understand just how stupid this is, I’d like to point out these two sentences:

“It doesn’t matter if Trout leads the world in WAR or peace, no player in the AL meant more to his team this year than Cabrera.

Trout, for you Wins Above Replacement aficionados, might have a higher total (10.3 to 7.1), but Cabrera actually has a higher percentage of his team total (33.5% to 27.2%), courtesy of colleague Paul White”*

Excusing the terrible pun on WAR for a minute, I want you to consider all of the idiocy, mathematical nonsense, and tortured logic necessary for that last sentence to be convincing.

Nightengale concedes that Trout was more WAR, meaning Trout was responsible for more wins which is what being valuable is really all about.  Instead of wins let’s talk about apples.  It’s fall, people like apples, and most of you seem sick of pumpkins already.

Mike Trout has 10 apples.  Miguel Cabrera has 7 apples.  Who should we give the “Most Apples Award” to? Most would say Trout, but just as we’re about to hand the shiny red trophy to Trout, Paul White appears:

Paul White: Wait! Trout has 10 apples, but his Angels team combined has 38 apples! Miggy has only 7 apples, but his team only has 21 apples!

Chorus: So? Trout still has more apples.

Paul White: But if you take Trout’s apples away the Angels still have 28 apples, more than the entire Tigers team! If you take away Miggy’s apples the Tigers lose a full third of their apples.

Chorus: So because Trout’s teammates were better at gathering apples you think Cabrera’s apples were more valuable?

Paul White: Exactly

Chorus: That’s the dumbest thing we’ve ever heard. Had Trout been on the Tiger apple gathering squad instead of Miggy they would have had 24 apples instead of 21, and even though it pains us to use your horrible statistic, he would have had 42% of the Tigers’ apples.

Paul White: Curse you Chorus, you and your dastardly “math skills.”  I’ll get you yet.

Yes, this guy thinks that Cabrera was more valuable precisely because his teammates were less valuable.  And you thought RBI was dependent on your teammates! People have been bending “valuable” into this nebulous “valuable to your team” concept forever, but I’ve never seen someone abuse a poor little advanced statistic that’s just trying to do its job in such a water-boardy fashion.

The proper way to look at garbage like this is to simply point out that If you replace Cabrera’s production (7 wins) with Trout’s production (10 wins), the Tigers would be even better, and if you replace Trout with Cabrera on the Angels, they fall even farther out of it.  Simple as that.

Colin wrote: I’d like to congratulate @BNightengale for possibly the dumbest use of WAR I’ve seen. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2012/10/02/miguel-cabrera-deserves-al-mvp-award/1609615/ …

And perhaps that’s all that needed to be said, but if you have to explain why to first graders, now you can.

*I know it’s not spelled the same, but I’m picturing this guy.

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