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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:55 pm 
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Willton wrote:
This game exemplifies why I hate the distinction between earned runs and unearned runs. Oliver Perez gave up 7 runs today, but apparantly because of a single error by Luis Castillo, only 2 of them were earned. What a crock. This is why I think ERA can be misleading.


That must have been a huge error to account for 5 unearned runs...

Were there people on base when the error occured?

I missed the game today, I had clients outside and was nowhere near a computer

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:57 pm 
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Willton wrote:
This game exemplifies why I hate the distinction between earned runs and unearned runs. Oliver Perez gave up 7 runs today, but apparantly because of a single error by Luis Castillo, only 2 of them were earned. What a crock. This is why I think ERA can be misleading.


ERA could certainly be better. I'd just as soon go with RA.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:06 pm 
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nad69dan wrote:
Willton wrote:

That must have been a huge error to account for 5 unearned runs...

Were there people on base when the error occured?



Without knowing the specific circumstances in this case, the answer is that if an error keeps an inning alive every run thereafter will be 'unearned' by the pitcher.
One of the little quirks of Henry Chadwick's system.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:02 pm 
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How is it the pitcher's fault that the team cannot make routine plays behind him?

Errors are not called for difficult plays or "iffy" plays - only on those where a major league defensive player is expected to make the play.

A pitcher is supposed to get 3 outs per inning - not 4 or 5. ERA is a good barometer as to how the pitcher is doing his job. The W-L record is much more an indication of how well the rest of the team is doing its job.


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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:47 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
How is it the pitcher's fault that the team cannot make routine plays behind him?

Errors are not called for difficult plays or "iffy" plays - only on those where a major league defensive player is expected to make the play.

A pitcher is supposed to get 3 outs per inning - not 4 or 5. ERA is a good barometer as to how the pitcher is doing his job. The W-L record is much more an indication of how well the rest of the team is doing its job.

Unearned runs cannot be solely the fault of the defense. Certainly, a pitcher should not be responsible for the defense's ability (or inability) to turn batted balls into outs. However, one error should not suddenly absolve a pitcher of responsibility for 4 runs that he allowed to occur, particularly if the pitcher walked those runs around the diamond (as Perez essentially did today). A pitcher's job is not over once an error is made; he must still continue to get his team out of the inning without allowing the other team to score, and his failures in doing so should be noted. We shouldn't just pretend that the runs didn't happen while the pitcher was on the mound. A good pitcher is capable of preventing unearned runs as well as earned runs.

In the end, parsing earned runs from unearned runs becomes an exercise in obfuscation. Forget ERA; stick with RA (or Run Average). If you want to account for the defense, then just look at a pitcher's RA in context with the Defensive Efficiency of the team behind him. We don't have to have just one stat that will explain everything about a pitcher, especially when that one stat fails at doing so.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 2:21 am 
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By the way, Bertie, I'm not the author of that quote. nad69dan is.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 2:41 am 
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Willton wrote:
Unearned runs cannot be solely the fault of the defense. Certainly, a pitcher should not be responsible for the defense's ability (or inability) to turn batted balls into outs.


Not a difficult concept.

(1) Pitcher is not responsible for a base runner who gets on base due to defensive mistake(s). Guy leads off an inning and gets on base due to error, next batter hits a HR, pitcher is responsible for 1 earned run. What beef do you have with that?

(2) Pitchers are expected to get 3 outs per inning. Not 4, or 5 - 3. Once the pitcher does his job, then any further runs are unearned. Two outs, nobody on, grounder to second that is muffed - pitcher deserves to be sitting on the bench after getting three outs.

(3) You think a pitcher should be responsible for runs that are attributable to his pitching, no matter what happened before then. In your world, pitcher gets two outs, then fans batter number three but catcher muffs final out ... then next batter hits routine grounder to SS, which is muffed ... then next batter hits pop-up in foul territority which third baseman drops, before the batter hits an easy 4-hopper to second which is muffed - now, bases loaded 2 outs. You think the pitcher should get a seventh out. If he gives up a HR, you would attribute that to the pitcher. After all, he gave up the HR ...

No, the pitcher did his job. The defense did not. Once the pitcher gets what should be the third out, his job is done. Trust me, if a two-out error is made, the pitcher does not say, "Hey, who gives a shit, the runs are unearned." He works to get the fourth out or, as Grabow did earlier this year, a fifth out.

But if he is unable to get the 4th out before giving up a run, then he does not deserve negative stats.


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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 4:31 am 
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Bucfan wrote:
Willton wrote:
Unearned runs cannot be solely the fault of the defense. Certainly, a pitcher should not be responsible for the defense's ability (or inability) to turn batted balls into outs.


Not a difficult concept.

(1) Pitcher is not responsible for a base runner who gets on base due to defensive mistake(s). Guy leads off an inning and gets on base due to error, next batter hits a HR, pitcher is responsible for 1 earned run. What beef do you have with that?

My problem with your hypo is the fact that you're picking an isolated example that does not deal with the flaws that I pointed out. Pointing out the instances where the rule appears to make sense does not minimize the instances where the rule makes no sense.

Bucfan wrote:
(2) Pitchers are expected to get 3 outs per inning. Not 4, or 5 - 3. Once the pitcher does his job, then any further runs are unearned. Two outs, nobody on, grounder to second that is muffed - pitcher deserves to be sitting on the bench after getting three outs.

No, Bucfan, teams are expected to get 3 outs per inning. Pitchers are a giant influence to that effect, but they do not work by themselves. A pitcher is charged with the duty to work with his teammates in getting those three outs. It's not a one-sided relationship: the pitcher works for the defense just like the defense works for the pitcher. If a pitcher allows a batted ball to get to the defense, and the defense turns it into an out, the pitcher should not get all of the credit for the out. Likewise, if a defender muffs a batted ball, the pitcher should not be absolved of blame, as he allowed the batted ball to reach the defender in the first place. Saying that the pitcher is somehow absolved of responsibility for a subsequent run is obscuring the pitcher's duties to his team.

Bucfan wrote:
(3) You think a pitcher should be responsible for runs that are attributable to his pitching, no matter what happened before then. In your world, pitcher gets two outs, then fans batter number three but catcher muffs final out ... then next batter hits routine grounder to SS, which is muffed ... then next batter hits pop-up in foul territority which third baseman drops, before the batter hits an easy 4-hopper to second which is muffed - now, bases loaded 2 outs. You think the pitcher should get a seventh out. If he gives up a HR, you would attribute that to the pitcher. After all, he gave up the HR ...

(1) What's crazy to me is that in this convoluted world of errors and unearned runs, the HR in your hypo is still considered unearned, even though the defense had nothing to do with it. It assumes that the hitter would not have hit the homerun but for the prior gaffes on defense. That's absurd.

(2) In my world (as well as the real world, and not the hypothetical construct of earned and unearned runs), yes, there would be no distinction between those specific runs. They would, however, be looked at in context with the poor defensive play behind him, which is reflected in Defensive Efficiency. It's not as tightly packaged as you'd apparently like it to be, but it's a more accurate representation of what actually happened while the pitcher was on the mound.

Bucfan wrote:
No, the pitcher did his job. The defense did not. Once the pitcher gets what should be the third out, his job is done. Trust me, if a two-out error is made, the pitcher does not say, "Hey, who gives a shit, the runs are unearned." He works to get the fourth out or, as Grabow did earlier this year, a fifth out.

But if he is unable to get the 4th out before giving up a run, then he does not deserve negative stats.

Wrong. A pitcher's job, as well as the defense's job, is never done until those three outs are recorded each inning. Pretending otherwise is foolish. A pitcher's job is not done just because some sportswriter sitting in a pressbox with a scorecard and a bag of Doritos says it is. The pitcher still bears the responsibility of helping his team in getting out of the inning, and his failures in doing so should be so noted. He should not be given a blank slate every time an error occurs, especially when he does nothing to help his teammates in attaining that third out (like Perez did on Wednesday).

The simple fact of the matter is that errors will happen. Good pitchers will minimize the damage caused by them, and bad pitchers will not. A good pitcher will allow fewer runners on base before the errors happen (so there aren't runners to score on the errors), and will allow fewer hits and walks after errors happen (so the runners who reached on errors won't score). Invoking the concept of unearned runs creates a fantasy world that actually understates the value of good pitchers while overstating the value of bad pitchers. Therefore, because it obscures the value of the pitcher, the distinction between earned and unearned runs should be done away with.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:49 am 
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Bucfan wrote:
How is it the pitcher's fault that the team cannot make routine plays behind him?

Errors are not called for difficult plays or "iffy" plays - only on those where a major league defensive player is expected to make the play.

A pitcher is supposed to get 3 outs per inning - not 4 or 5. ERA is a good barometer as to how the pitcher is doing his job. The W-L record is much more an indication of how well the rest of the team is doing its job.


The thing is that the end of an inning is not the end of the game. For example, imagine that a pitcher gets two quick outs, followed by an error that puts a runner on first base. The pitcher then proceeds to give up four consecutive home runs. Shouldn't he bear the burden of those home runs? It's not like those same four batters wouldn't be coming up in the next inning. Attributing those four runs to poor defense isn't quite right.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:56 am 
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sisyphus wrote:
The thing is that the end of an inning is not the end of the game. For example, imagine that a pitcher gets two quick outs, followed by an error that puts a runner on first base. The pitcher then proceeds to give up four consecutive home runs. Shouldn't he bear the burden of those home runs? It's not like those same four batters wouldn't be coming up in the next inning. Attributing those four runs to poor defense isn't quite right.


You beat me to it, sisy. Those batters could hit the homeruns the very next inning, and then they would be earned.

If you want to say that any runner who reached on an error who then scores is an unearned run, fine. But if you want to talk about any runs after that, the argument is much less convincing.

However, what is lost in all of this is whether or not there is a difference, in the grand scheme of things, between ERA and RA. Yes, I know the numbers themselves diverge, but are there good pitchers who have stellar ERA's and horrible RA's? Consequently are there bad pitchers on good defensive teams who have RA's almost equivalent to their ERA's?

What I am saying is that the vast number of runs scored are earned runs. Therefore, across the board, RA should reflect ERA and either stat should do just as fine of a job of telling you whether the pitcher is any good or not. In the rare case of a very good pitcher on a poor defensive team, you could look at the RA in the context of defensive efficiency. But I would guess that those are rather special cases to begin with.


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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 10:37 am 
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Great explanation Bucfan. I agree.

(Edit: sorry I quoted wrong post. Just deleted it).


Last edited by Mayor Mystery on Thu May 01, 2008 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 10:39 am 
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Mayor Mystery wrote:
Willton wrote:
By the way, Bertie, I'm not the author of that quote. nad69dan is.


Great explanation Bucfan. I agree.


I'm confused? :|


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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 12:31 pm 
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BBF wrote:
Mayor Mystery wrote:
Willton wrote:
By the way, Bertie, I'm not the author of that quote. nad69dan is.


Great explanation Bucfan. I agree.


I'm confused? :|


Apparently there are good know-it-alls-who-never-admit-they're-wrong, and bad ones. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 1:49 pm 
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ERA stands for "Earned Run Average." Under the examples used by Bucfan, did the hitting team "earn" those runs? The simple answer is "no." The runs were not earned; the runs were "given" to the other team as a result of a defensive miscue or miscues.

It is unworkable to suggest that if a runner reaches first after an error with two outs and a home run follows that the run should be considered an "earned" run because the hitter may have hit a home run in the following inning. That is pure speculation. The notion that a pitcher who gives up a home run to a hitter after an error and two outs would give up a homer to that same hitter leading off the following inning simply doesn't make any sense to me. The glaring difference would be that in the first example the pitcher is throwing from the stretch. In the second example, he would likely be winding up. Also, the pitcher may be better rested with the first hitter of the inning versus the fourth (or more) hitter in the inning.

I'm not going to enter the debate as to what is the best measure of a pitcher ERA or RA factoring in Defensive Efficiency. However, I did laugh out loud when I read Willton/Econo ridiculing the whims of an official scorekeeper (who, based upon the reference to Doritos, he thinks must be fat). When I think of those Sabrmatricians sitting in front of their computers trying to outdo one another with their formulation of defensive matrices, I don't picture guys who are the epitome of fitness and good health. If anything, I picture lots of empty Coca-Cola cans and crumpled up bags of cheese puffs. Sort of like a mechanical engineer making fun of a chemical engineer for being a "geek."

My apologies to any engineers on the Board. I lived with 2 engineering student for 3 years during my undergradate years and they were great guys. However, after attending many "engineering" parties, one must admit that there are a large number of individuals who . . . how shall I say this . . . won't be working in public relations.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 2:13 pm 
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No, no, no. Feel free to make fun of engineers. As a geologist, its considered a national pastime! :D

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 2:15 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 3:57 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
ERA stands for "Earned Run Average." Under the examples used by Bucfan, did the hitting team "earn" those runs? The simple answer is "no." The runs were not earned; the runs were "given" to the other team as a result of a defensive miscue or miscues.

First, Earned Run Average was not designed to be a measure of offense; it was designed to separate pitching from fielding. Hence, talking about whether the opposing offense "earned" a run obfuscates the goal of the stat in the first place.

Second, focusing on whether the offense "earned" a run or was "given" a run is far too subjective of a test. If a hitter hits a ball into play and the fielders do not reach the ball in time to turn it into an out, we can certainly speculate as to whether the fielder put forth enough effort to get the ball and the hitter really deserved to get the hit. Did the hitter "earn" the hit, and then "earn" a run scoring as a result from that hit? Also, some say that players who are really fast have the tendency to force errors from the defense. If such an event occurs, does that mean that the fast runner did not "earn" his base-hit, even though he was so fast that he forced the error from the fielder? This is also confusing when we speak in terms of pitchers "giving up homeruns."

Let's try and maintain some focus. ERA was supposed to be about pitchers, not hitters. Confusing the issue does not make the stat better.

No. 9 wrote:
It is unworkable to suggest that if a runner reaches first after an error with two outs and a home run follows that the run should be considered an "earned" run because the hitter may have hit a home run in the following inning. That is pure speculation. The notion that a pitcher who gives up a home run to a hitter after an error and two outs would give up a homer to that same hitter leading off the following inning simply doesn't make any sense to me. The glaring difference would be that in the first example the pitcher is throwing from the stretch. In the second example, he would likely be winding up. Also, the pitcher may be better rested with the first hitter of the inning versus the fourth (or more) hitter in the inning.

If it is not fair to speculate that a homerun hit after a 2-out error would have occured in the following inning but for the error, why is it fair to assume that the homerun would not have occurred at all but for the error? Such a proposition does not pass the straight-face test. Why does it make sense to absolve the pitcher of all responsibility for any runs, particularly homeruns, that occur after an error has been made? Why is it fair to hypothetically reconstruct the inning and pretend that those runs did not happen while the pitcher was pitching?

No. 9 wrote:
]I'm not going to enter the debate as to what is the best measure of a pitcher ERA or RA factoring in Defensive Efficiency. However, I did laugh out loud when I read Willton/Econo ridiculing the whims of an official scorekeeper (who, based upon the reference to Doritos, he thinks must be fat). When I think of those Sabrmatricians sitting in front of their computers trying to outdo one another with their formulation of defensive matrices, I don't picture guys who are the epitome of fitness and good health. If anything, I picture lots of empty Coca-Cola cans and crumpled up bags of cheese puffs. Sort of like a mechanical engineer making fun of a chemical engineer for being a "geek."

Yes, and I'm sure you envision all those sabremetricians blogging about this stuff from their mothers' basements. Like Keith Woolner of the Cleveland Indians. Or Bill James of the Boston Red Sox. Or Dan Fox of the Pittsburgh Pirates. You know, those people.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 5:57 pm 
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Willton wrote:
First, Earned Run Average was not designed to be a measure of offense; it was designed to separate pitching from fielding. Hence, talking about whether the opposing offense "earned" a run obfuscates the goal of the stat in the first place.

Let's try and maintain some focus. ERA was supposed to be about pitchers, not hitters. Confusing the issue does not make the stat better.


ERA is a measure for a pitcher. However, the use of the term "earned" necessarily reflects that it is designed to measure what the opposing offense has "earned" from that particular pitcher. Pitching and defense cannot "earn" runs; offenses "earn" runs. Thus, the stat and opposing offenses are inextricably intertwined.

We get it. You don't like the stat. But to dig in your heels and refuse to acknowledge a term that is integral with the statistic (ie; "earned") reflects bullheadedness and a lack of objectivity. As I put in my initial post, I'm not entering the fray as to what is a better reflection of a pitcher's effectiveness. I'm not trying to trumpet ERA as the "be all/end all" by any means and I also wouldn't trumpet RA coupled with Defensive Effectiveness as the "be all/end all" either. I simply pointed out that Earned Run Average is a measure of what an opposing offense has earned against the pitcher as opposed to being the beneficiary of defensive gifts.

As for accusations regarding "maintaining focus" and accusations of "confusing the issue," I'll follow Bertie's advice and bite my tongue.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 6:26 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
ERA is a measure for a pitcher. However, the use of the term "earned" necessarily reflects that it is designed to measure what the opposing offense has "earned" from that particular pitcher. Pitching and defense cannot "earn" runs; offenses "earn" runs. Thus, the stat and opposing offenses are inextricably intertwined.

We get it. You don't like the stat. But to dig in your heels and refuse to acknowledge a term that is integral with the statistic (ie; "earned") reflects bullheadedness and a lack of objectivity. As I put in my initial post, I'm not entering the fray as to what is a better reflection of a pitcher's effectiveness. I'm not trying to trumpet ERA as the "be all/end all" by any means and I also wouldn't trumpet RA coupled with Defensive Effectiveness as the "be all/end all" either. I simply pointed out that Earned Run Average is a measure of what an opposing offense has earned against the pitcher as opposed to being the beneficiary of defensive gifts.

I was always under the impression that the runs were "earned" by the pitcher, just in a negative way. That's why the pitcher gets the stat attached to him: he's the one that earns the runs. If that's wrong and it's about the offense earning runs as opposed to being gifted runs, fine. I'll concede that.

However, a measurement based upon that premise is (1) too subjective, and (2) doesn't understand that pitching and fielding are not so easily divisible. If such an idea was offered nowadays as opposed to 100 years ago, it would be dismissed out of hand.

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 Post subject: Re: April 30, 2008 Pirates at New York Mets
PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:37 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
It is unworkable to suggest that if a runner reaches first after an error with two outs and a home run follows that the run should be considered an "earned" run because the hitter may have hit a home run in the following inning. That is pure speculation.


Agreed. What we can say, for sure, is that the pitcher should not still be on the mound - he did his job. The defense did not.

The idea that the pitcher should be dunned for not getting four or five outs is really odd to me. The point behind sabremetrics and related fields was to give greater context to offensive production. Too be more accurate.

Dunning the pitcher because the fielders cannot field is not an accurate measurement.

No. 9 wrote:
However, I did laugh out loud when I read Willton/Econo ridiculing the whims of an official scorekeeper (who, based upon the reference to Doritos, he thinks must be fat). When I think of those Sabrmatricians sitting in front of their computers trying to outdo one another with their formulation of defensive matrices, I don't picture guys who are the epitome of fitness and good health. If anything, I picture lots of empty Coca-Cola cans and crumpled up bags of cheese puffs. Sort of like a mechanical engineer making fun of a chemical engineer for being a "geek."


That is pretty funny, since I had the same thought.

And one final point - Sisy and Econo probably did not pitch, and see some pretty bad defensive efforts behind them. The psychological toll is high, particularly the error on a ball that should have ended the inning.

It takes a lot of effort, energy, focus, etc. to keep pitching when you should be on the bench or hitting. This purely mathematical view of judging pitching does not do justice to what a pitcher may have done. ERA is not perfect, for heaven's sake, but at least it does not smack the pitcher for failing to get four or five outs.


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