Friday, September 24, 2004

More anti-stathead rants from Fraley 

Gerry Fraley is at it again.

Just like in July, when Boston's arrival into town served as an excuse for Fraley to do a whole column decrying these newfangled Moneyballers who don't appreciate how the game is supposed to be played, the A's loss last night has led to more of Fraley's wrongheaded railing against Beane & Co.

Just so you get a flavor of the disdain Fraley has for the sabermetric crowd, here's how the column starts:

The "Moneyball" true believers have introduced many exotic acronyms to baseball.

OPS. VORP. Terms that drip with genius.

A standby such as DP, as in double plays turned, seems out-of-date in this brave new world.

Until a team cannot turn a DP to finish an early inning with a lead. Or a team flubs a potential DP that would complete a win.

This is the setup for a diatribe about how defense wins ballgames, and the Bill Jameses of the world just can't understand that.

Nevermind that Beane has been on the forefront of using statistical methods to better evaluate defense, and obtain players whose defensive abilities are undervalued, such as Mark Kotsay. Nevermind that sabermetrics is simply about using objective methods to evaluate players. Nevermind that the sabermetric belief is not, as Fraley would have you believe, that defense is irrelevant, but that strong offensive players with subpar defensive abilities will generally contribute more to a team's success than weak offensive players who are strong defensively. Fraley has drawn his line in the sand, and he will not let these whippersnappers, with their computers and numbers, change what he believes.

Of course, Fraley has a vested interest in peddling this ideology. He's been a contributor to Baseball America for some time, and while BA is a very good publication, it is also one of the hoariest of the traditional, scout-oriented baseball publications. And Fraley has taken offense in the past to laypeople opining on things that he considers to be his turf, the folks who use statistics and their own observations instead of their connections with people inside baseball as the basis for their opinions.

Still, it is remarkable that a baseball writer would direct this degree of venom over a methodology that has, thusfar, proven to be pretty successful.

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