NBC Bay Area – Connor Garcia Whitehill made a bold prediction last spring, before the baseball season even started. He didn’t just put it in writing – he put it on YouTube.
The 14-year-old from Oakland, California, said the Chicago Cubs would make it to the World Series, and win for the first time in 108 years, against the Cleveland Indians.
Why was he so confident in his prediction? Statistics.
“The fun thing about statistics is that they help you to understand the world around you, be it baseball, politics or just numbers in general,” he said.
With the help of a couple of dedicated math teachers at Berkeley’s Black Pine Circle School, he created a spreadsheet with formulas that analyzed MLB statistics and gave each team a number to predict its final ranking in each division.
First and foremost, I believe that statistics and advanced metrics do make a difference when it comes to how to coach and construct a baseball team. There’s no denying that and all you have to look at is what Theo Epstein has done adapting and rejuvenating both the Red Sox through a more Bill James-inspired method. But this stuff???
UZR? xFIP? BAPIP? I mean don’t get me wrong kid, if the number bear out your way, congratulations and if it works again next year, you may be on to something. Baseball is well known for having misleading statistics for pitchers with inflated ERA and win total, so I admire taking a fresh approach to refreshing the statistical analysis of America’s Past Time.
Having said that, baseball stats are built upon a foundation of “this happened and a result, this was marked down in the scorebook.” What I have a problem with these statistics built on foundations other people. In theory, every Giants pitcher should be unhittable because their park is so massive or that David Ortiz’s BAPIP makes him the best because he hit 50% in a hitter’s park. Or that a pitcher’s xFIP is entirely built upon his position players. Maybe the advanced science works, but it’s not for public consumption and I don’t expect Pete Rose to talk about UZR anytime soon. And another thing…
There’s nothing, nothing in the prized spreadsheet about coaching…because from my seat on the couch, the two smartest managers in the game are managing in the World Series. What that tells me is that the two smartest coaches both have a good enough team that can out perform a superior team if they are performing at a better pace than other team. What does that mean? Tells me if you have a coach that is constantly out performing expectations based on expectations or meeting them time after a time, you’ve got a shot to win. I broke it down in my new stat: COFFI
Like the 10 point Apgar Test a delivery nurse does for their babies, Coaches and coaching staff get evaluated into yes or no questions giving a point or no point for each question. Such as, is this a guy players like? Can he make the playoffs? Has he won a world series? Is he a dumb ass? Once you figure out what that number is multiply it by the “Fun Factor” which teams like the Cubs exude. Then minus the injuries and evaluate the team’s chances from there.
Is that an effective way of measuring who will win the world series? Definitely not, although I think so. Clearly as the game evolves, numbers and stats will become more apart of the science of the game, all you have to do is look at the game tonight. And it’s not to say that new stats (looking at you WAR) can’t be accepted, even if it’s from a kid, but to say that this is an effective way or even a correct way of measuring who will win the World Seies is an insult to Joe Maddon, Terry Francona and old white men everywhere.