Friday, February 26, 2010

Kevin Youkilis Has A New Stat For You Fackin' Nerds: OBSTR

I don't think we should expect players to embrace statistics. It's probably unrealistic even to think they should understand them. Stats are for those of us who observe the game and would like to try to better understand the big picture. They aren't tailored for those on the field, playing in the moment.

There are limited situations wherein a player might be able to adjust their strategy thanks to stats, but as I mentioned yesterday, defense isn't one of those situations. But you'd hope that players would at least understand the impulse to quantify defense objectively. Youk? Not so much: (h/t BBTF)
I don’t know how they do it. How do you measure defense? You make an error, you make an error. You get to a ball, you don’t get to a ball. What if you have a bad hamstring and you can’t get to a ball up the line? I don’t know what they evaluate, but a good ballplayer is a good ballplayer.
Well, yes, that's exactly how they try to measure defense. By tracking who gets to balls and who doesn't. Just because you have a legitimate excuse - like an injury - for not getting to a ball doesn't mean it shouldn't count against you.

In that statement is exactly why we need objective stats. And yes a "good ballplayer is a good ballplayer", but part of being good involves defense. There is no universal truth that tells us who is good at defense. There isn't even a central source where scouts come to a consensus about who is or isn't good. UZR clearly has its flaws as a system, but it attempts to find a numerical representation of who is good and who isn't. When we get our hands on Field f/x data, UZR is likely to be left in the dust, but it's the best we have now.
Youkilis was in a jovial mood as he picked apart some of the stats of the day - particularly Ultimate Zone Rating, or UZR, which is used to measure how many runs above or below average a fielder allows.

“I don’t go off all those UZRs . . . is it UZR?” Youkilis said. “I don’t even know what it is. I hope my UZR is sick, along with my OBSTR.
OBSTR? I thought Jim Bowden had just raised the bar in the field of make-believe baseball statistics when he invented the cutting edge metric "OBPATUZXYZ". However, Kevin Youkilis has apparently just upped the ante by creating the Obligatory Bullshit Stat Trivializing Rationality. It may go down as the WAR of anti-stat dunderheads.

Anyhow, since Youk isn't a fan of UZR, we thought we'd create a few, more tangible stats that he might excel in and ultimately embrace:
HErBS - Homo-Erotic Batting Stances
OCFH - Obnoxious Configurations of Facial Hair
HFTASO - Hissy Fits Thrown After Striking Out
UPCOM - Unprompted Charges Of The Mound
ABRF20 - Ass Beatings Received From a 20 year old
GWwMOB - Gritty Walks With Men On Base
EHWotF - Embarrassing Hats Worn off the Field
BBwSG - Bats Broken With Sheer Guts
PEWFC - Products Endorsed With Fecal Connotations
WMFR - Washing Machines Fucked By Rhinoceri