The Overabundance Of Stats In Baseball

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*** Follow Joe Saponara on Twitter @FootballNHoops***

When I was growing up we used a few numbers to quantify how well a batter was hitting. Basically average, home runs and RBI. I’m not even getting into whether it is RBI or RBIs. Sure, you could break it down a little further. Walks, hits, and so on. I felt slugging percentage was probably going too far. You could figure out on-base by simply adding walks to hits. The other numbers were fine. Back then war was just a term for fighting. Not some stat. A few years ago it was discovered that Joe DiMaggio had been overrated, apparently. That’s funny. He wasn’t still playing. I don’t like the number of stats, but one problem is that a few seem to be based on what might have happened. I’m bigger on combining some basic numbers with what your eyes tell you.

Statcast is a big thing today, but ESPN has their own home run tracker. Aaron Judge hit a home run that was calculated to be 496 feet. It was said to be the second longest home run of the Statcast era, behind Giancarlo Stanton. He had one over 500 feet. That Judge home run went 495 feet according to ESPN. I don’t like the inconsistency, but close enough. However, this was the longest home run since ESPN started keeping track years ago. What happened to Stanton’s home run? About 20 years ago I remember a discrepancy in how stadiums measured home runs. One ballpark would calculate how far the ball actually went, while another estimated how far it would have gone. I’m not sure that was the issue with this Judge blast. That means it only lost one foot by not completely coming back down. The ball was way up in the stands. Actually, over them. Elevated up by retired numbers. I remember watching highlights of a great play on two different networks one day. It wasn’t this year. Probably MLB Network and ESPN. One channel said the outfielder traveled approximately 100 feet. I thought about how that would not have been measured years ago, but also wondered about the accuracy. Later I watched that play elsewhere. A different number was given. They were feet apart. Something like 101 and 97. If we can’t agree, I have a tough time taking either number seriously.

Judge also hit a long home run in Seattle. It didn’t register on Statcast. The joke was that he broke it. One estimate was 415 feet. I think that’s where the seat is located. Then, 440 was given. I could buy that as a potential landing spot. Recently I checked on it and saw 437 feet. We should all take a guess.

The home run distance seems like it should be fairly cut and dry. Unfortunately, it’s not. That leaves me very reluctant to buy into these other stats. Today we have terms like sabermetrics. Meanwhile, baseball is going down the tubes in my opinion. Starting pitchers usually go 5 or 6 at most. Even when pitching well. Then teams wonder why bullpens get burned out. It is pretty much home run or bust for batters now. Fundamentals are becoming a thing of the past. Strikeouts are through the roof. SNY asked viewers if they would like to see more advanced stats incorporated into their broadcasts. The results were about 70% no. Sadly, it will probably happen anyway. Maybe I’m just a dinosaur like Joe Benigno. Everybody had that relative who would talk about what could be bought for a nickel in their day. I’ve become that person. I’ll just go through life with my Walkman. I wonder if Sam Goody has any deals on transistor radios.

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