Confessions Of a Simpleton

Here’s another post to add to the multitude you’ve probably already read about Moneyball. My brother gave me the book by Michael Lewis several years ago. He told me that he thought I’d find it pretty interesting.

“Why not?” I thought. I read just about anything I could get my hands on and I’d been reading sports books since my parents introduced me to Chip Hilton and his freakish athlectic* abilities.** Little did I know how this collection of pages about the Oakland A’s would make me fall in love with baseball all over again.

*This is a typo, but I’m not going to correct it. I’ve decided it’s a new word….maybe a cross between “athletic” and “eclectic.”

**I’m convinced that Chip Hilton would have been a star at any sport he tried his hand at. Rugby, Lacrosse, Kite-flying….He could do no wrong.

I came to understand that there was more to a player than his batting average (if he was a hitter) or his win/loss record* (if he was a pitcher). I started watching and following baseball in a much different way than I ever had before. I’m sure there are those of you who may scoff, either because you come from the group that doesn’t believe sabermetrics holds any water or because you’re amazed at how long it took me to realize how sweet advanced stats are. If you are of the former then I’d say that you’re a little close-minded and if you’re of the latter I’d say, “Hey shut up! I didn’t realize how much sweet baseball stuff there was to read on the internet.”

*Okay, that not necessarily true. I had been watching Greinke pitch for awhile before I read the book and I was already woefully familiar with how futile a pitcher’s win/loss record really was.

I realize that this may seem a strange admission from someone who writes for Kings of Kauffman, but it’s true. Whether you want to call it stupidity or, well…stupidity (I prefer “ignorance”), the fact remains that I’m a latecomer to the realm of advanced stats and baseball. 

Since I’ve been blessed with the chance to write about the baseball team I love, I’ve spent a lot of my time exploring the internet and discovering all of the amazing resources that are available for the stat fanatic. You can spend hours and hours of time looking at different splits for almost any possible statistic you want and with the evolution of advanced statistics you can look at stats that may make you look at players in more ways than you could ever have hoped for.

After seeing the film adaptation of “Moneyball” last night, I was once again reminded of how intricate baseball is. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think that sabermetrics are strictly the end-all basis for how you should evaluate a player. I still think there is a little something to be said for intangibles.* However, I think these advanced statistics are awesome because I can look at a player who might be hitting .262 and realize that he’s still a valuable player because he takes a ton of walks and has an OBP of .389.

*To a degree…if you try to tell me Yuniesky Betancourt had intangibles I’ll laugh in your face.

“Moneyball” awakened me to sabermetrics. Now I’ve got way more to look at when I analyze a player other than “oh he’s a good player because he hits .294″ or “oh that shortstop is the worst in the league because he has more errors than this guy even though his range enables him to make an attempt on ground balls that other shortstops wouldn’t even be able get close to.”

Being able to better understand a players skill set or lack thereof makes you and I more knowledgeable about our team. It makes us better able to predict when a player is good and when he’s on a hot streak.

For me, “Moneyball” was just the beginning of becoming a better baseball fan.

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