It has been a long time coming. The winter was long and difficult. The anticipation was exhausting. The off-season debates were wearing thin. But finally, this week, relief: Fogging the Measure, North America’s most pretentious and 9,835th most-beloved semi-sabermetric blog feature is back!
[HOLDS FOR APPLAUSE]
The season has already started, so it seems a bit too late to give my INFALLIBLE PREDICTIONS for the 2013 baseball season, but here we are. No phony humility for me. Yeah, there will be more detailed stuff to follow, but I gotta get this stuff out there so at the end of the season I can point out how right I was about everything. Because when a saber-friendly blogger projects something to happen, he or she means it is definitely going to happen. Ergo, if that thing doesn’t happen, sabermetrics is disproven, right?
So here they are, a few INFALLIBLE PREDICTIONS about the 2013 baseball season, both on the field, off the field, and in cyberspace.
1. Many will be shocked by the Orioles “surprisingly” not contending this year.
2 (a). Roy Halladay‘s obvious decline (and fall?) will continue to get a disproportionate share of attention in Canadian baseball markets, despite him leaving years ago for Philadelphia, where he left tons of money on the table so that the team could give insane extensions for the likes Ryan Howard.
2 (b). Major League Baseball will continue its bizarre effort to remind the public of the Ryan Braun/MVP/Biogenesis thing via a counterproductive investigation. Much will be written about this, and by the end, no matter how it turns out, we will all be sick of MLB, Braun, and stuff written about it, whatever position it takes. Nice PR, work, baseball.
3. I will continue my quixotic quest to make “Adam LOLind” a thing.
4. Saber-Peace in Our Time, a.k.a. the FanGraphs/Baseball Reference agreement on replacement level, will continue to be seen as a Great Thing by many, at least for a while. It will be one less thing for writers like Jim Caple to use as a weapon to pretend they are “moderates” when they are simply ignorant and threatened.
After a little while, people will start to notice that, in fact, many differences in WAR(P) implementations remain — defensive metrics, pitching metrics, park factors (an underrated aspect that I hope to write about at some point), and more. This will lead WAR opponents back to the same old “see, it isn’t perfect!” sorts of arguments. Even many saber-friendly writers will express dismay that there is still so much disagreement.
Of course, all of this will miss one essential point: the lack of agreement may point to problems with certain metrics. It, in fact, must point to problems or limitations with some of them. This is actually a good sign. For one thing, while the tone of many saber-friendly writers may sometimes seem “arrogant,” (I think this is an overplayed card by critics and even certain saberists, the latter of whom like to talk about “our arrogance” when they really mean “saberists who are not me and my allies,” but that is a rant for another day) having and accepting that there are different inputs (e.g., defensive metrics) that fit into the same framework is, at least implicitly, an admission of humility. We do not know exactly what the best way to measure certain things is, so much so that there is disagreement, so we are doing the best we can.
More importantly, this is rational state of affairs in a period during which sabermetrics has not really, despite what some people might think, settled into being a normal, “puzzle solving” science. Yes, there are broad agreements about certain things at the moment (e.g., linear weights as the best method for measuring individual offensive production and many other things). Despite this, even with the WAR(P) framework being fairly widely accepted, many of the basic inputs of even that framework are still in development. While this may bother some, to me, thinking that the “sabermetric project” is essentially over and we can call the winner is not only not fun and false, but counterproductive. Having competing metrics for stuff we do not fully understand — from pitching to fielding to positional adjustments to even, yes, the best way to calculate linear weights — is almost essential to progress. Aside from the sociological aspect of competition, said competition between metrics can help us see the limitations of each in ways that will lead us to improve them.
Huh, that turned from a prediction into a rant.
5. I will at some point swear off writing stuff about Jeff Francoeur because nothing is left to be said or joked about.
6. People will continue to write “Man, are those Astros bad” columns as if a) it is somehow still surprising, and b) as if it really matters.
7. One or both of the Upton brothers will do something perceived as showing a lack of effort or something, leading to silly overreactions, leading to counter-overreactions.
8. There will be season-long mourning over the end of Mariano Rivera‘s career, even though we all knew this was going to be his last season. Heck, he wanted to retire after last year, but he got hurt. I like Mo, too, but calm down, people.
9. Many writers will continue to act as if sabermetric bloggers are “baseball outsiders,” despite it being clear that every team in the league employs at least a few analysts, and despite bloggers, and not long-time journalists, continuing to get hired by teams to help make baseball decisions.
10. Much gnashing of teeth of the end of Polk Points.
11. Bloggers playing the Humility Card will bust out the ol’ truism that “Teams know a lot we don’t” as a way to get people to stop playing GM.
12. For the next few weeks, there will be many blog entries and columns written that begin by cautioning the reader to not get sucked in by a small sample. The column will then go on to analyze the season to date while ignoring sample size.
13. Many heat maps will be posted. A few of them will even be helpful.
14. Chris Berman will call the Home Run Derby despite absolutely no one liking him.
15. Every week of the Blue Jays season will be taken as a referendum on their big off-season moves.
16. No one will ask Justin Verlander “hey, remember your high school sweetheart? What ever happened to her?”
17. At some point I will actually post something more substantial than a bunch of rants and one-liners.
18. I will go back on my promise to stop writing about Jeff Francoeur.
19. The announcers’ treatment of Michael “Classy, Never Complaining” Young will increase psychosis among intelligent baseball fans by 172 percent.
20. Almost no one will mention how great the Rangers’ contract with Adrian Beltre has been.