Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Defense of John Lackey

This is one of those player defense posts I never thought I'd write, but when retrospect hits, I'm pretty sure I'll be glad that I published this piece.

Yes, this post is titled "In Defense of John Lackey".  And, to be sure that we're all clear on the subject here, I am defending John Lackey's 2011 season.  The worst season suffered by a starting pitcher in the American League for as long as anyone can remember.

Why would anyone defend Lackey's wretched, horrible 2011 campaign?  Because of what Tito revealed in his book with Shaughnessy.
In 2011, Lackey was officially the worst starting pitcher in Red Sox history for a single season (28 starts, 6.41 ERA).  He was a pariah to most fans.  Sports talk show hosts in Boston made an issue of Lackey showing up his teammates and his manager.  [But... Shaughnessy doesn't add a "but" here, or transition to a new paragraph. What retard edited this book?]  Francona and Sox players continued to support the big Texan, but Lackey made things hard on everyone.  His pitching elbow was throbbing...
OK, here's the kicker that Shaughnessy adds in paraenthesis:
(he underwent Tommy John surgery after the season)
After burying the lead, Shaughnessy continues:
...[Lackey's] marriage was over, and he just wanted to get away from everything.  
Let's dissect this, which will be easy because the points here are quite simple.  On top of Lackey's personal life falling apart, which causes enough mental stress, Lackey needed surgery.  Ergo, even if Lackey was one half of the world's best marriage and his wife gave birth to magical fucking unicorns, he needed Tommy John surgery.  He spent much of 2011 pitching while injured -- period.  Lackey had Tommy John surgery at the end of 2011, but he probably needed such surgery in the middle of 2011.  That was the primary reason why Lackey sucked.

So, why didn't Lackey get the surgical procedure that he needed?  Let's go back to the Francona book:
"He was going through a lot," said Francona.  "His stuff had backed up, and every mistake he made on the mound, goddamn did he pay for it.  Ho could give up two-out runs with the best of'em.  He'd get two guys out and then make a mistake.  He probably didn't help his cause with the media.  He was kind of surly.
We all know what happens when you're surly to the ultra-sensitive Boston media... Anyways, continuing:
But he wasn't like that around us.  He was hurting at the end, and we gave him every chance to go on the disabled list, but he talked us out of it.  I think he just wanted to win so bad, and he couldn't believe what was happening.
Well, the Red Sox fanbase fucking hated what was happening.  Is that Lackey's fault?  One could say yes, pointing to the fact that Lackey always talked the team out of getting thrown on the disabled list.

But what backing did Tito have?

Fact is, from this reading, we know -- for a fact -- that Lackey was injured in 2011.  And, obviously, it affected his performance on the mound.   Given the news reports out right now about the questionably legal actions performed by the Red Sox medical staff, shouldn't fans and the media delve further and ask why the medical staff didn't give Tito the leverage he needed to place Lackey on the disabled list in 2011?  Since Lackey was pitching -- obvious to everyone on the Red Sox -- with an injury.

I thought the ultimate objective of a baseball team was to win games.  If the Red Sox, between the medical staff and front office, didn't make an effort to remove an obviously injured pitcher from the rotation in 2011, then what -- exactly -- were they trying to accomplish?

In the end, the Red Sox missed making the playoffs by a game while leaving one of their prized free agents out there, injured, to feel the full wrath of the media and the fanbase.   Again, were the Red Sox focused on winning?  And if that wasn't the objective of the organization, then what was?

I wasn't the biggest Lackey fan when he was signed, and I'm still not a huge fan of his now.  But, you know what?  Lackey is here, and he's a Red Sox player.  I'll cheer for him when he pitches, and those cheers will be magnified after seeing just how much this organization fucked him over in 2011.  The rest of us owe Lackey the same respect.  His determination to stay in the game proves that he wants to win, and I think we need to give him the benefit of the doubt this season.

Lackey is healthy.came into camp thinner and obviously in better shape, and he wants to win games for us.  I feel like nobody else will say it, but I will: Lackey is going to have a good season in 2013.  Just watch.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

WAR: The Theory of Total Bullshit

I like writing about baseball, how it ties into history and current events around the game. But, as I've mentioned before, I don't want this to become an anti-WAR blog.  If everything I write is some screed dismissing WAR as bullshit, then I become just as annoying as the WAR trolls.

One slight problem, though: The WAR trolls are everywhere.

That's the latest ESPN: The Magazine cover -- so WAR trolls have now invaded my reading time when I'm layed up at the doctor's office.  Fuckers.  And if you thought their sanctimonious tripe had reached its peak, oh, you have no idea.  
But science rarely gets it right the first time; it gets it right over time. Wins Above Replacement -- an all-encompassing measure of a player's value developed through decades of data and debate by baseball's army of amateur analysts -- gets it right. [...]
We live in a world of disagreement on epochal issues that we can't resolve even when the science is unambiguous: evolution, vaccines and climate change among them. These issues are daunting. Relying on science that's hard to understand can be scary. So the tendency is to cling to the comforts of ideology and tradition -- even when those ideologies are wrong, even when the traditions are outdated.
You hear that, dinosaur baseball fans that dismiss WAR?  Sabermetrics and WAR is a science!  Not only that, but it's as rock solid as the Theory of Evolution!  And the research proving that greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide and methane, when released into the atmosphere, have the effect of heating up the planet!  WAR is hard science!  But you fucking dinosaurs who think that RBIs mean something are just so fucking stubborn that you might as well just call yourself creationists!  WAR is here.  WAR is proven.  WAR is right.  WAR will cure cancer.  WAR will give everyone a pony.  WAR will suck your cock, if you have a cock -- and if you don't, then don't worry because WAR with tickle your clit with it's legendary 10.7 rated tongue.  In fact, the pony that WAR gives you will nuzzle it's head into your clit and, 9 months later, you'll give birth to a unicorn.  WAR is godhead.  If you disagree, just STFU and go vote for Joe the Plumber, you freak.

Just look at the SCIENTIFIC PROOF!
In 2002 Eckstein (WAR of 4.4, according to analytics-based website FanGraphs) was almost as good as Miguel Tejada (WAR of 4.7), who won the AL MVP award that year. Tejada hit 34 home runs and drove in 131. But Eckstein was nearly his equal while driving in 63 and taking a running start every time he threw to first. How? WAR, and the components that it comprises, tells us:
1. Eckstein let himself get hit by 27 pitches, giving him a better OBP than Tejada and blunting Tejada's power advantage.
2 . Eckstein hit into a third as many double plays.
3. Eckstein was actually a good defensive shortstop with more range than Tejada and more success turning double plays.
Let's analyze these points in a little more detail:

1. Eckstein's OBP in 2002 was .363, and Tejada's was .354.  I'm not sure on what planet this difference of nine-hundreds of a percent "blunt[ed] Tejada's power advantage", since Tejada hit 34 homers and Eckstein hit, uh, 8.  To put that in percentage terms, Tejada hit 225% more homers than Eckstein.  And, even though I didn't major in statistics, I would figure that 225.000 of an advantage in getting actual runs would be better than a 000.009 advantage in a player's ability to get on base.  But hey, I'm a fucking baseball dinosaur who denies the existence of WAR and thinks Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, so what the fuck do I know?  Who am I to question baseball scientists?!

2. Eckstein was a leadoff hitter, so he had less at-bats with the chance to move baserunners forward.  Additionally, power hitters like Tejada have more breaking balls pitched to them.  Does this mean that they'll ground into double plays?  Yes, but their job is to swing the fucking bat to produce fucking runs.  Fucking duh.  Would you rather have a power hitter leave his bat on his shoulder, afraid to swing?  No!  They're positioned to step to the plate with runners in scoring position because we want them to swing!  Why?  Because they often hit fucking homers when they fucking swing!  Sluggers also improve the hitters in front of them because pitchers will try not to let those hitters on-base -- since a slugger could hit a home run and get a fucking RBI from a fucking baserunner; which is otherwise known as basic fucking baseball -- so those hitters will see more fastballs.  This helps improves a leadoff hitter's OBP, sometimes by .009 percentage points -- which is, apparently worth more than 26 home runs.  Jumping Jesus on a fucking pogo stick, I can't believe I have to explain this shit.

3. Eckstein's fielding percentage with .977, with 14 errors and 91 double plays turned in 397 attempts.  Tejada's had a .975 fielding percentage with 19 errors and 106 double plays turned in 504 attempts.  Tejada also played in 162 games to Eckstein's 147 games at shortstop.  But if the Napoli discussions we had over the offseason are any indication, durability isn't a factor in WAR.  Either way, Eckstein's defensive stats do not blow Tejada out of the water.

I didn't bother to read the rest of the article.

If the WAR heads were honest about Sabermetrics -- which means discussing how they created stats that intentionally ignore baseball strategy and undervalue any player considered to be a power hitter -- I'd be fine with their trolling.  At least their stats would come with honesty.  But for WAR heads to constantly insult and talk down to baseball fans who dare to not agree with them, to the point of comparing their bullshit statistics to being as scientifically valid as the Theory of Evolution, is ridiculous.  I'm sick of seeing these pieces on every site I visit to read about baseball.  It's just getting fucking stupid.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Repeat Performance, Spring Training edition

One avoidable annoyance in the world of journalism, from sports writing to weekly political punditry, is how writers repeat themselves.  It's a habit forced by the fact that they are given column space, need a paycheck, but often there just isn't anything new to say. 

With the start of spring training, and the fact that I see storylines that I've touched upon on this blog coming to pass, I could start repeating myself.  Doing such would make me feel like as lazy as a sports "journalist", though.  So, instead of wasting 800 words to say something again, let's call this segment: "LOOK AT HOW GODDAMN RIGHT I FUCKIN WAS, BECAUSE, FUCKIN A, I'M GODDAMN FUCKIN AWESOME SO WHIP OUT YOUR KNEEPADS AND FUCKIN SUCK IT". Because, you know, I'm humble. 

Storyline #1: First thing Mike Napoli does when he shows up to camp is get an MRI to make sure his hip is well enough to play baseball, which is otherwise known as "his job".  I touched upon this last month -- before he was signed -- in "The Many (Potential) Injuries of Mike Napoli". 

Storyline #2: The Red Sox medical staff is finally under the microscope.  I bitched about those assholes, and pointed out just how much they have changed since 2004, in my review of Shaughnessy's tomb, "Highway 2011 Revisited".  It's worth noting that Tito started telling Shaughnessy about medical staff issues in the book, but Shaughnessy just kinda goes la de da and doesn't explore the issue.  Because Shaughnesy is wicked fackin smaht. 

Whenever I need to let you know how fucking awesome I am again -- in less than 800 words -- I'll be sure to let you know.  This post, uh, was less than 800 words, right?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shaughnessy, Kurkjian and the Fraternity of Shitass Baseball "Writers"

I'm eternally disappointed in the writers that baseball is subjected to -- myself include.  Though, to my own credit, between my day job and other hobbies, I don't have the time to be the baseball writer I think I want to be.  If I won the lottery, then we're talking...  As is, I spend about 30 minutes to an hour on most of my posts here, and posts aren't frequent.  What can you do?

Other baseball writers don't have my excuses.  I went on a Twitter rant against Tim Kurkjian today because of his tweet claiming that "No one writes better than Shaughnessy", in regards to Curly Haired Boyfriend's Francona book.


First off, as far as writing goes, Shaughnessy's book was junk.  It was barely passable at a fifth grade reading level.  Francona told some great stories, and all Shaughnessy did was quote him.  That's it.  Some might argue that Shaughnessy is a talented interviewer, who knows how to trap his subjects into situations where they give up information that they normally wouldn't mention -- but Shaughnessy isn't a fifth grade level journalist, either.  As far as journalism goes, there are plenty of points in his book where Francona actually does mention more than he should, and Shaughnessy just leaves those answers hanging; suspended like they're lighter than helium, ready to float away at the slightest hint of a breath.

It's also worth mentioning that prose like "suspended like they're lighter than helium, ready to float away at the slightest hint of a breath", which I just pulled out of my ass like it's nothing, isn't anything you'll find in Shaughnessy's book.  Instead, to describe that the Red Sox were gaining a great amount of popularity, Shaughnessy was "The Sox were hot."  Does it get to the point in four words?  Yes.  But this isn't a daily sports column where Shaughnessy needs to conserve space, this is a 300+ page book.  Between commute time on the T and a couple of hours over the weekends, it took a decent amount of time just to read through the mass of verbiage in his book -- and it was So. Fucking. Boring.  Shaughnessy's "writing" and "journalistic" notions are shit.  I liked reading Francona tell stories about his years in Major League baseball, but as I read Shaughnessy's book, I couldn't help but think that I could have written a better book if I had the time and access to figures in the Red Sox organization.  For my part, I may not have time to write, but at least I feel the need to try and entertain you with either decent prose, or good insight, should your eyeballs be gracious enough to glance upon my blog for a second.

The problem with writers like Shaughnessy is that they were elevated to their positions for no good reason, because they never wrote anything good in their lives; then they stay in those positions without danger of getting fired.  And then people like Shaughnessy are buffered by their colleagues in the sports "writing" business, like Tim Kurkjian.  Tim "Anything I Write About Baseball Is Wrong" Kurkjian.  Here's an example of TIMMMMAAAHH's breadth of baseball knowledge, written before the 2012 season:
Bobby Valentine's one of a kind
...For three years, I sat next to him on the set of "Baseball Tonight," and in meeting rooms with 15 games on TV, and I can tell you that no one knows the game better than Bobby V.
He can be smug and he can be arrogant, but he has a right to be. Bobby Valentine has thrived at most things he has done in his life.
Wait, the crème de la crème of unnecessary hagiography gets worse.
Humanitarian? Ballroom dancer? Science fair guy? Gourmet chef? Restaurateur? Director of Public Health? Valentine is all of these things. How? Where does he find the time? He told me 25 years ago, "Sleep is overrated,'' and it must be, because I don't know when he sleeps. Yet he fell asleep at the wheel late one night, nearly got killed, and, if possible, doesn't drive alone late anymore; sometimes he'll have someone drive him.
So, to recap, TIMMMMAAAAHHHH says "My favorite person in the world discounts sleep, except for that time he endangered others ad almost killed himself because he slept while driving."  The cognitive dissonance train just went CHOO CHOOOOOOOO! right through TIIIMMMMMMMAAAAHHHHH's brain, and he didn't even have the presence of mind to notice.  This man must have taken the extra short bus to school when he was a kid.

TIIMMMMMMMMMAAAAAHHHHH -- and that's how his name should be pronounced; perhaps with extra drool -- ends his column is the most horrible way possible:
Red Sox Nation, you have one of a kind in Bobby Valentine. I have never met anyone quite like him in baseball. He will make your team better right away. And he'll never be boring.
Wrrrroooonnnggggg!  Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, absolutely 100% motherfucking WRROONNGGGG!  TIMMMAAAHHH is just a piece a shit.

In the real world, workers would get fired for being this atrociously wrong.  But in the chummy world of baseball writers, Kurkjian not only gets to keep his cushy job -- and I don't fathom that he ever deserved to get his job in the first place -- but then he praises shitheads like Dan Shaughnessy.  This is like a gigantic circle jerk of doughy white men who never deserved to do anything with their lives beyond sell car insurance, but just happened to luck out and write about baseball for a living.  Then, while having access to games, MLB clubhouses and all the sources that they want, people like Shaughnessy and Kurkjian aren't even intelligent enough to understand baseball or tell us something new or insightful about the game.  They just write stale old crap.

It's a disgraceful display of entitled privilege to intelligent baseball fans who see these assholes for the stupid fucking jerkoffs that they truly are.  I'll believe there's justice in the world with I get Dan Shaughnessy or Tim Kurkjian's job; but until then, I'll just have to try harder to avoid them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Non-Prognostication Declaration

Making predictions about baseball standings is difficult, since comparing team's rosters doesn't give you enough data -- you need to know which players are going to get injured throughout the season.  Which, of course, nobody knows.  So predictions become très dificile.

Looking at the current roster for the 2013 Red Sox, I'd say they can fight for third place in the AL East and be in the hunt for he second wild card spot until the end.  Toronto has too much talent to beat over a 162 game season, and Tampa Bay is good for second place and, likely, the first wild card spot despite trading away James Shields.  The Rays are relying on their tried and true strategy of going to the farm -- the Royals farm system, this time, getting Wil Myers.  The Rays also have a RHP in the minors with 500+ innings of experience to replace James Shields in their rotation.  In the AL East, that leaves the Yankees, Baltimore, and the Red Sox.  The Yankees got older, lost Swisher, have a very old Youk at third for who knows how long, and have to worry about whether career ending injuries find Jeter and Mariano.  Baltimore lived off their bullpen and batters last season, and they lost offensive pop while not upgrading their starting rotation -- I wouldn't be surprised to see them occupy the basement.  And then there's the Red Sox.

But this 2013 Red Sox team is full of question marks.  To digress for a second, it seems that there's a fashion among some General Managers right now that you can take players who have been part-timers for years, but have shown some promise, and suddenly make them full time players.  This mentality was most recently displayed in the A's trade for Jed Lowrie.  Lowrie was a top prospect for the Red Sox, and given ample chances to play full time from 2008 - 2011, but injuries found him.  Ben traded him to the Astros, and injuries found Lowrie there, too -- he only played 97 games.  He hit 16 homers in those 97 games -- thus the taunting promise of him being a great player -- but he's never avoided injury.  I'm not sure what Billy Beane is expecting out of Lowrie, a full season?  Because he's never done it.

This trend of trying to make part time/platoon players full time players has hit the Red Sox, too.  The Rangers tried making Mike Napoli a full time player after acquiring from the Angels, where Mike Scioscia relegated him to being a part time player.  The Napoli experiment worked for the Rangers in 2011, but it crashed in August of 2012 when Napoli's body couldn't handle the rigors of a second straight season as a full time player.  And now, Ben has continued the Napoli experiment by placing him at first base.

Whether it's Napoli or Lowrie, I don't understand why some General Managers are partaking in these risky experiments.  Ben also signed Jonny Gomes, who has only had one season with over 500 plate appearances (in 2010), and he's never had even over 400 plate appearances in any other season.  He's not a full time player, is Ben suddenly expecting him to become one?   And where in the outfield will he play?  Gomes' primary position is left field, but Ben signed Shane Victorino, a center fielder with no range at all, so he'll need to be shifted to left field.  Guess Gomes must patrol Fenway's vast amount of real estate in right field.  So Ben just signed two outfielders to play out of their comfort zones, one of which has always been a part timer player, and the other -- Victorino -- who relies on his speed but he's getting older and didn't have a great effort in 2012.

There's a lot of room for regression there, and we still haven't considered the Stephen Drew experiment at shortstop yet.  His last good season was in 2008.  And on the mound, we're depending on Farrell to make Lester and Buchholz into aces.  Lester might follow suit, but, here's the skinny on Buchholz:

He is, well, pretty fucking skinny.  Buchholz has ace stuff, and he's had plenty of chances to bring himself together to be that ace we're all told he can be.  But when he comes close to 200 IP, he's succumbed to injuries -- most likely because, well, he's skinny. We're depending on a guy with that body to be a staff ace through 162 games and the playoffs.  At this point, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Buchholz hasn't fulfilled the lofty expectations foisted upon him by the organization, but the fact that Red Sox continue to place him upto this task is getting ridiculous at this point.  So, once again, a General Manager is depending on a player doing too much.  

I'd have more confidence in the Red Sox chances in 2013 if they placed Buchholz at the bottom of the starting rotation, promised to skip him for a few starts this season, and got the best out of him by giving him the most relaxed scheduled a starter can receive -- limiting his injury risk.  And, also, if Ben signed Kyle Lohse instead of Ryan Dempster.  C'est la vie

Between whatever injury the Sox have Buchholz pitch himself into this season, Dempster bringing his 5.09 ERA from his stint in Texas to Fenway, and whatever Lackey does, we might be seeing what kind of stuff Rubby De La Rosa has sooner than we think.  One bright spot here, unbelievably enough, is a healthy post-surgery Lackey, and the first pictures coming out of Ft. Myers do show that he's hit the cardio machines hard this offseason.  He definitely has less of a paunch in the middle. 

Ben upgraded the bullpen as well.  The addition of Joel Hanrahan to take over for closer from Andrew Bailey is a plus, since Bailey is great but [ahem] an injury risk.  Anyone [ahem] seeing a pattern here? 

So, before pondering all of these injury issues, the Red Sox have a roster stacked to make a run at the second wildcard spot.  Other teams have injury considerations, too -- Yankees may not have a SS, 3B or closer by the end of 2013; and A's just traded for an experiment, for two examples -- but it's not good for a GM to load a team with injury risk, then say "Go get'em, boys".  On the bright side, seeing some of the prospects play at Fenway is more exciting than watching washed up veterans play anyway. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reality v. WAR

Perhaps my biggest problem with WAR -- the acronym of this stat being "Wins Above Replacement" -- is how a "win" should be defined.  I define a win by the results seen in the final score of the game, and some people (you know, me) would be smug and call this observation "fucking reality".  But this smugness is a reaction to the heightened douchery of the Sabermetic statheads who invented WAR, because it's impossible to figure out quite what the fantasy scenario is around their definition of a "win".

Let's use our favorite team ever, the wildly successful 2012 Boston Red Sox, as an example.  In the fantasy world of fWAR, this team went 116 - 46.  Surely, any time with such a win/loss record will roll over the feeble competition in the playoffs on their way to a World Series title (unless they are from Seattle).

Any team whose players amassed a collective WAR of 34.7 must have had over a hundred wins, right?  I mean, I just pulled up the stats of every player that swung a bat and threw a pitch for the Red Sox last season, added up all of the positive WARs and subtracted that by the negative WARs, and the total WAR for the 2012 Boston Red Sox is 34.7.

A Major League Baseball season is 162 games, so -- in the view of fucking reality -- a team with an 81-81 record would be .500, completely neutral, and have a collective WAR of 0.  Zero wins above, zero wins below .500.  81-81.  Therefore, a team whose players collectively batted and pitched for a WAR of 34.7 would have 116 wins, when you add 34.7 wins to the neutral total of 81 an round up.  And a team with 116 wins can have only lost a maximum of 46 games.

But, in fucking reality, the Red Sox went 69 - 93 last season.  So what happened?

What is a "win" in "Wins Above Replacement"?  Because, from what I see, WAR looks like "wins" pulled directly from the ass of Sabermetric statheads; and it doesn't equate with the reality of what happens on a baseball diamond.

Pretending that we can figure out the weight of a "win" in WAR compared with a win in reality, a WAR "win" for the 2012 Red Sox is worth about 0.577 of a win in reality if you add the players' collective WAR (34.7) to the difference of neutral/WAR 0 wins (81) by the amount of games the Red Sox actually won (69), the divide that number (46.7) by Neutral/WAR 0 wins (81).

But I'm willing to bet that a WAR "win" = 0.577 actual wins is not a constant in the formula for WAR.  This is just what a WAR "win" was worth to actual wins on the 2012 Red Sox, and a comparison of WAR "wins" to actual wins for other teams would return a different number for each and every team.

So, in what fantasy scenario is a "win" in WAR equatable with a win in reality, that shows up in a team's win/loss record?  I can't figure this out, largely because this value probably doesn't exist.  I can't find evidence that, when a player's WAR is calculated, that it pegs WAR to actual, tangible, victories.  This, essentially, reduces WAR to Sabermetric wankery that isn't really worthy of discussion.

In fact, it shows an inherent dishonesty among Sabermetricians that tends to piss off us old time dinosaurs who still think that stats like a player's batting average have a lot of value.  If Sabermetricians chose to call their cardinal metric something different, let's go basic with "Player Rating", that would be more honest.  Going further, if they provided a chart of how different variables were valued and weighed to calculate a player's rating, then we could have a discussion on the merits and the value of the stat.  I mean, we all know how a player's Slugging Percentage is calculated.  If you don't think a triple should be worth 3 points since triples are more an indicator of a player's speed rather than slugging ability, then you're free to look at other stats.  But I don't know how a triple is weighed in WAR -- I don't think anyone does.

Instead of being open and honest, Sabermetricians decided to speak in definitive terms and call their quintessential stat "Wins Above Replacement".  But they forgot to make "wins" a static variable, which would be very easy to do since wins exist in fucking reality.  That's why this stat is a joke.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Caple goes to WAR

Jim Caple posted a column at ESPN that isn't really anti-WAR...  Generally, he's diplomatic regarding his critique of what some regard as The Stat to End all Stats that's constantly enforced upon us by pretty much 99.9% of baseball bloggers out there.  But Caple has a lot of the same questions and complaints about WAR that have been raised on this blog, mainly regarding shadowy, obtuse nature of a statistic that you can't calculate without a high-powered Intel CPU -- and only if you know all of the variables that go into WAR, how those variables are weighed against each other, and who determines why one variable is more or less valuable than another variable.  And when the shadowy society of mighty baseball statisticians change those variables in a non-democratic manner -- then maintain that their calculations are unquestionable correct -- will these changes be documented?  And will, say, the "historic" WAR value of a player be listed next to their new WAR value so fans can compare the differences?

Caple doesn't go into psuedo-geek speak by using words like "variable", meaning his column is an easy read.  So go read it before the baseball pundit gods hang Caple by his nutsac for questioning their almighty judgement.

And, should you choose to do battle against the commenters calling Caple an idiot, be sure to ask them if WAR is part of an equation.  I mean, if you add up the WAR of every player on a team for a season, shouldn't it equal the win-loss record for that team's particular season?  Because I betcha WAR doesn't.  And if "wins above replacement" isn't an equation that can be proven to translate into actual wins, then aren't those who calculate WAR just pulling some numbers out of their ass and demanding everyone to call them fucking geniuses because of it?

Just saying.