Voros McCracken is a wise, wise man

From McCracken’s talk at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, reported by Fangraphs:

Just because everyone knows OBP is important doesn’t mean OBP isn’t important. Just because we learned something a long time ago doesn’t mean we should unlearn it. We should keep it and add to it. There are a lot of people who are itching to do the next new thing. That’s great, it’s just that mindset can cause you to forget some of the basics.

“Not to pint fingers at any team, but to a certain extent the Mariners did that. They got so wrapped up in talking advantage of fielding statistics that they forgot they should have a first baseman with an on-base percentage over .280. Maybe that’s unfair. If they were here, they may interrupt me and say no, that’s not the way it happened. But my perception is that sometimes you can forget about the basics when you’re pursuing something new.

“You might say to yourself, ‘I want a stat that can measure this.’ Then video technology comes out and gives you the stat you wanted to measure. There is a tendency to think, “Ooh, I’ve been waiting for this, and now I’ve got it, and it’s the greatest stat in the world.” But you haven’t even looked at it yet. You haven’t looked at what it actually says — what its weaknesses are. There’s a hazard there. You want to know more things than your competition. What you don’t want is to know something your competition doesn’t, and it’s wrong. If everybody is wrong about something it doesn’t hurt you too bad, but if you’re the only one, you have 29 teams taking advantage of your mistake.

“Scouting is still an important a smell test. If scouts all say someone is a terrible defender, and a stat says he’s the best defender in the world, the truth is probably somewhere in between. Scouts say things for a reason, and you shouldn’t dismiss that.

“If you come up with a new number, and somebody says they don’t like it, I don’t think it’s helpful to just keep pointing at it, over and over again. ‘Well, that’s the number.’ Every number a guy like me comes up with it, you have be skeptical of. You have to be extremely skeptical. That’s the quickest way to knowledge. If you don’t believe something, figure out if it’s true or not. It’s a basic scientific approach, to a certain extent. Falsifiable hypotheses, that sort of thing.

 

Tagged ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 559 other followers

%d bloggers like this: