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  1. Announcers should really be forced to take a Sabermetrics 101 class or three. It’s one thing for the ex-players to discuss things like team chemistry, hitting mechanics, or what players might be thinking, but when they venture out of their area of expertise it’s really quite annoying. Many of them seem to operate under the assumption that playing the game means they have complete understanding of how it works (Morgan being the classic example).

    As a Reds fan, I saw Dunn get run out of town by Marty Brennaman, with Jeff Brantley piling on until his “Encarnacion is NOT clutch” foot-in-mouth moment shut him up. It really is a buzz-kill when you get bombarded with such bad misinformation. In few other professions are people allowed to get away with being blatantly wrong, misleading their audience so long as they can keep their attention.

    Comment by Rick — August 15, 2008 @ 11:21 am

  2. Traditional baseball statistics should not be allowed into the hands of a lot of these analysts. Dunn is, in my eyes, extremely underrated, an obvious result of his strikeout totals. I personally look at a player’s OPS as a good single number that can quickly show you how valuable he is at the plate. Certainly that doesn’t take into account a lot of the more in-depth sabermetrics like LI and WPA and disregards steals, which I’ve always found hard to quantify, but generally OPS is an exceptionally accurate indicator of performance.

    To back this up, I did my final project for my AP Statistics class this past school year on a comparison of OPS and BA as predictors for Runs Created. Again, RC is not the best metric to determine offensive performance, but as an output value it worked well. I did linear regression tests on the correlation of both OPS and BA to the top 50 single-season RC marks of all time, as listed by baseball-reference.com. I don’t have the actual data with me right this instant, but the result was that the correlation between OPS and RC dwarfs that between BA and RC and shows that OPS is a much better indicator.

    My fantasy league counts OPS as one of the offensive categories and as such I am thrilled that I have Adam Dunn. Despite his .234 BA, his OPS this year of .896 (lower than it’s been most of the year thanks to a recent mini-slump) is comparable to that of guys like Jason Bay (.288/.890), Ian Kinsler (.319/.891), Aramis Ramirez (.285/.892), Nick Markakis (.306/.902), Grady Sizemore (.268/.903), Prince Fielder (.278/.905), and David Wright (.293/.906). I’m fairly certain that the traditional baseball analyst would assert that all of these guys are more valuable hitters than Adam Dunn, a claim which infuriates me (except Markakis, but he’s my favorite player on my favorite team, so that’s another story…yeah I’m biased).

    I know that I mostly just reiterated/substantiated a lot of what you said in your post, but I wanted to break out some numbers to back up my claim that Dunn is a chronically underrated middle-of-the-order kind of bat whom the Diamondbacks just picked up for a lark.

    Comment by Nathan — August 15, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  3. I’m not too surprised that Singelton, or any ESPN analyst, said something so blatantly wrong. His time broadcasting ChiSox games on the radio was brief because of his often poor analysis and his awkwardness(Is that even a word?). It really makes you wonder why some of these people have the jobs that they do. High strikeouts can really get in the way of producing a high BA, but OBP? Thats ridiculous. I’m surprised they haven’t got to this one yet on FireJoeMorgan.com. Those guys crack me up.

    Comment by Isaac — August 15, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  4. I’m still surprised by the seeming inability of many in sports and fans of sports in general to simply interpret data on it’s merits. In this case, the /.373/.525 is somehow less productive (less valuable) because it’s preceded by .234.

    Sports fans tend to value players relative to an imagined bar of what we think they should be rather than using an appropriate reality-driven baseline.

    Comment by Terry — August 15, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

  5. “generic announcer-talk that exhibited next to no knowledge of what he was discussing”

    I’ve been anti-Singleton since he first started on the show, which I watch fairly frequently. I agree that he presents himself and his insights more professionally than the average anchor on the show, but I think the above quote is a pretty spot on description of 99% of what he says. His smoothness and demeanor will fool you, until you actually think about what he just said and realize how idiotic and illogical it is. He makes me cringe nearly every time he’s on the show.

    Comment by Greg — August 15, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  6. All the ex-MLBers are frustrating. Olney, Kurkjian, and occasionally Phillips are the only ones that are actually insightful.

    Comment by Nathan — August 15, 2008 @ 3:41 pm

  7. like the end-of-year awards, you can’t get too worked up about the knuckleheads on ESPN.

    Comment by Josh — August 15, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  8. Living in New Jersey, I’ve had the displeasure of being subjected to large doses of Singleton and Michael Kay. As smooth as they both are on the microphone, they really do say some dumb stuff. Aside from their blind defense of Jeter’s range, they’ve also asserted with confidence that getting to face pitchers instead of designated hitters adds “at least 30 or 40 strikeouts” to an NL pitcher’s seasonal line and used this rationale to impugn Jake Peavy in particular.

    That’s great and everything, but given that the typical NL pitcher faces around 50-55 pitchers over a full season and that DHs strike out around 18% of the time, pitchers would have to strike out nearly 100% of the time in order for the 40 strikeout advantage to be true. They could have mentioned the overall weakness of pitchers or the lesser quality of NL hitters to support their argument that NL pitchers have it easier than AL pitchers, but instead they chose to use strikeouts in particular and offered up such a ridiculous number that it’s impossible to respect any opinions they may have on the topic of baseball.

    For what it’s worth, Peavy faced an average of 60 pitchers a year from 2005 to 2007 and struck out 43% of them while striking out non-pitchers 25% of the time, so that’s 11 extra Ks a year from getting to face pitchers instead of position players.

    Comment by Rajmond — August 15, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

  9. Singleton also said on BBTN that of all 2nd basemen in the league, Pedroia is the best since his uniform gets the dirtiest.

    It seems obvious that he’s been planted by ESPN to rile up the FJM types for some buzz.

    Comment by Jibs — August 16, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  10. @ Rajmond

    I think this original post refers to Chris Singleton, the BBTN commentator, and not Ken Singleton, the Yankees announcer on the YES Network. Ken isn’t as bad as Chris.

    However, Michael Kay sucks.

    Comment by James K. — August 16, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  11. Before getting too sabermetrically self-congratulatory about how dumb mainstream media types are, maybe we should try to understand where this sort of statement comes from and why it is made so often about Adam Dunn and other high strikeout guys. To do that, just think for a second about the obvious truth of the following statment: If Adam Dunn could have put the ball in play in some of the many PAs in which he struck out (while maintaining his performance in those where he has not been striking out), he would have a higher OBP and SLG. I assume we can all agree on that. Yes, it is true that Adam Dunn is a good enough hitter that despite frequently failing to put the ball in play he manages to maintain well above average SLG and OPS numbers. But it is undeniable that if he had the ability, while maintaining his power and eye in that portion of his PAs he has not been striking out, to also adjust his technique when appropriate so as to convert some of his Ks into balls in play, he would be even better. if we think about what we hear in those sabermetrically correct terms, maybe the comments are not so dumb after all.

    Comment by birtelcom — August 17, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  12. birtelcom,

    The point isn’t to bash them because we’re “smarter.” My point is that the analysts don’t even look like they’re trying. They are fighting to come off smooth and the actual analysis suffers.

    Singleton’s comment, as you mentioned, and as I mentioned in this actual post, the idea that if Dunn didn’t strike out as much he could put more balls in play is not poignant to bring up because he IS Adam Dunn. This IS Adam Dunn. If he didn’t strike out as much and put more balls in play he’d be a much better hitter.

    I agree that taking the comment in that context makes more sense from a non-stupid standpoint, but it’s describing a hypothetical that won’t happen. I like to analyze what IS happening, not what could happen if a few factors weren’t at play.

    Comment by Eric Seidman — August 17, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

  13. Yes, but it’s all interdependent. Increased contact would almost certainly come at the expense of power. If there was a way Adam, or any Three True Outcomes guy really, could put the ball in play at a higher rate while still averaging over two bases per hit, I’m sure they’d have found it by now. Dave Kingman tried it in the second half of his career to mixed results, although age and wildly inconsistent K rates make that hard to gauge. Gorman Thomas shaved some Ks at one point to no measurable difference. Steve Balboni consistently lowered his Ks from ’84 to ’88 while retaining all of his power, however his BABIP dipped coincidingly although perhaps not so coincidentally and the end result was negative. Same thing with Rob Deer, and also Pete Incaviglia. Whatever Adam’s doing has worked for him very well up to this point, so my advice is don’t change a thing.

    Comment by Grayson — August 17, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  14. To update, I nearly pulled my hair out last night when Chris Singleton decided to argue that Kirby Puckett was the greatest player of the Minnesota Twins/Washington Nationals franchise instead of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and most of all, Walter Johnson. Kurkjian’s head nearly exploded.

    To defend himself, Singleton pointed out that the league wasn’t integrated back then, which CLEARLY explains how Walter Johnson compiled the greatest pitching career of all time.

    Comment by Greg — August 19, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

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