Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Just give Reusse the buyout

Local curmudgeon Patrick Ruesse posted his annual “Turkey of the Year” column late last week, and it is a doozy. I was originally going to take the high road, but you know us kids, we get bored so I decided to call him out.  He only has one point that I want to address, his labeling Joe Caas a “2009 Special Turkey Guest”.  I’ll let Mr. Ruesse dig his own grave:

Joe Christensen. Gentleman Joe is a Star Tribune baseball writer and also the Twin Cities’ leading advocate for OPS, a make-believe number that Bill James acolytes have embraced. How often must we say this, Joe? Runs scored and RBI mean something; OPS doesn’t.
Um, yes it does Patrick.  It means “on base percentage plus slugging percentage”.  I know this is beating a dead horse, but it must be done. OPS has been widely accepted for  most of this decade as an excellent way to measure a hitter.  Peter Gammons, possibly the oldest man alive, often quotes it for his pieces on ESPN.  A network also know as the World Wide Leader in Sports.  World Wide!!!

I can’t imagine if someone tried to use WAR and VORP in front of Ruesse. He would do one of two things: Freak out, or make a terrible Star Trek joke.  There are many advanced baseball metrics that even I think are a little much, but from a math standpoint OPS is just as simple as batting average.  I am not sure what RBIs measure other than how many times a guy comes up with runners on.  A hitter has no control over that. Unless you are playing with like 4 guys like you did in grade school and have “ghost runners” and you can drive yourself in.

Ruesse just needs to accept that baseball is a heavily statisticized sport, and we will continue to develop more advanced (and better) metrics to evaluate players and teams.  He hasn’t done this, and calling one of his co-workers a “turkey” because he has is just insane. Batshit crazy even.  “‘Get off my lawn!’ journalism” at its finest.



12 Comments so far

  1. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 9:30 am

    Ghost runners are a great idea. How fun would it be to watch a 4-on-4 All Star game where the players got ghost runners? Who would you put on it?

    I don’t know if that’d work better as a special on the MLB Network or as a movie. Tell me you wouldn’t watch a movie featuring 4-man teams like “Mauer/Morneau/A-Rod/Hunter” or “McCann/Pujols/Longoria/Ichiro” or some such, perhaps traveling around to play each other. It could even be called “Ghost Runner.”

  2. FunBobby December 3rd, 2009 9:48 am

    That would be really fun. Altough you’d almost have to have a guy like Carlos Gomez on your team. He can play outfield. All by himself. Probably much better than delmon plays just left field.

  3. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 9:51 am

    Yeah, that’s something you’d have to balance. Do you go for Gomez or Gutierrez out there, to help the defense but basically cripple your offense? Maybe take a small step down defensively in Hunter or Ichiro, but with a huge step up offensively? Or do you go all-offense and go with guys like Holliday or Ramirez and just try to bash your opponents into submission?

  4. FunBobby December 3rd, 2009 9:54 am

    Maybe go with the Hunter/Ichiro and use a pitcher who strikes everyone out.

  5. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 10:00 am

    I haven’t decided how the pitching should work. Does each team get their own pitcher? Or is there an all-time pitcher like when you don’t have enough guys? Is it a major league pitcher … or just a guy who throws strikes?

    I don’t think it’d be as fun to watch if the top pitchers were there — if Greinke and Lincecum were mowing these guys down over and over, we wouldn’t get to see as many ghost runners.

  6. FunBobby December 3rd, 2009 10:03 am

    good point. Would a pitcher be one of the four or a fifth? I think there should be “all time pitcher” and you have four fielders/hitters. The only problem is do you have to waste a guy as a catcher? or if there is a ball coming in from the OF does one of the infielders sprint in to cover home?

  7. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 10:15 am

    If you have to have a catcher, then one team gets an advantage — they get Mauer.

    But yeah, maybe you’re not required to have a C, and can have two OFs or put another guy somewhere else on the field. And having an infielder sprint to the plate to try to beat both the throw and the runner would be undeniably fun.

  8. FunBobby December 3rd, 2009 10:24 am

    It would be like arena league baseball. Awesome.

  9. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 10:28 am

    Frankly, I’d play that game.

    The ESPN specials and the movie could just be a ploy to drum up interest in starting leagues.

    Oh … and broadcasting amateur games on ustream or something? Definitely worth it.

  10. TT December 3rd, 2009 9:54 pm

    Actually Reusse is right, OPS is just a meaningless number – its like adding height and weight to get size.

    “OPS has been widely accepted for most of this decade as an excellent way to measure a hitter.”

    It doesn’t measure anything – which is why it is used. You can claim it measures whatever vague label you want to place on it – like “hitter” or a player’s “offense” or …

  11. FunBobby December 3rd, 2009 10:02 pm

    It measures his ability to get on base and ability to hit for extra bases.

  12. sirsean December 3rd, 2009 10:05 pm

    Or … the simplest possible measure of someone’s effectiveness as a hitter?

    Counting runs and RBIs is completely context-dependent — it’s quite possible for a great hitter to have a low RBI count, and for a crappy hitter to have a high RBI count. It simply depends on how many times that hitter came up to plate with runners on base or in scoring position.

    Was Teixeira a better hitter than Mauer this year? If you think RBIs are the only “reasonable” way to measure the quality of a hitter, you might think so. But if you look at OPS, you wouldn’t think so. Which do you think is more “real” or more “accurate?”

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