Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Racism in sports or an inability to comprehend statistics? You decide!

I got into an argument with a lady at work this afternoon about the racial makeup of players in the Major League Baseball All Star game. She came to work mad this morning because Jason Bay, a left fielder for the Pittsburgh pirates, did not play in last night’s All Star game. Jason Bay was the only Canadian on either team and he was the only person who didn’t play.

“I can’t believe it!” she said. “There’s an anti-Canadian bias in major league baseball.”

Now I agreed with her up to a point. Jason Bay should have played. He is a good, young player and it was his first of what will hopefully be many All Star appearances. But I had to say something. Because she was just being stupid. “I don’t think it was that he was Canadian,” I said. “I think it was because he sucks.”

This incited a flurry of discussion at work. Several people thought it was clearly an example of racism, but I would not relent. I informed them that Major League Baseball has a rule which requires at least one representative from each team to be a part of the All Star team. It only stands to reason that good teams, like the Red Sox and the Cardinals, will have several players on the All Star team while crappy teams, like the Reds and the Pirates, will not. I argued further, saying that Jason Bay, while he is a good player in his own right, is not quite All Star caliber. Since the National League was behind and had hoped to make a comeback, they wanted to use their good players.

“No hold on just a minute,” she said. “That guy from the Reds got to play.”

“Yeah,” said another guy (who is a closet Pirates fan), “and he puts up the same numbers as Jason Bay.” He went on to add, “How you like that, bitch!?” Everybody in the office looked at me and I smiled calmly. You see, I have this personal rule about ass kicking. If you ask for it, then I have to give it to you.

“You betray your ignorance,” I began. “All star caliber is not judged by offensive statistics alone, and neither is it judged in comparison to the league as a whole. What you have to do is look at a player’s performance in comparison to
other players at his position. Let us compare Jason Bay to other outfielders in the National League. Then let us compare Felipe Lopez to other shortstops. Once we are finished, I believe you will understand why one rode the bench while the other shined under the spotlights.”

“Jason Bay’s stats for the 2005 season through the All star Break:

While his performance has been good, these numbers are not stellar when you compare them to other outfielders in the national league. Jason rarely breaks the top 10 in any offensive category, coming as high as 6th for batting average. In many categories, he is well behind other outfielders who did not make the All Star team. For instance, in batting average, his .299 puts him behind Jose Guillen, who did not make the All Star Team despite the fact that he has more homeruns, more RBI, more runs scored to add to his dominance in batting average. Outfielders tend to be power players but Jason Bay, despite the fact that he bats 3rd in the Pirates lineup, isn’t even in the top ten among national league outfielders in Runs, RBI, or HR’s. In homeruns, everybody’s favorite category, Jason ranks 12th among national league outfielders. He is behind Adam Dunn (23) Cliff Floyd (22), Reggie Sanders (18), Ken Griffey jr (17) and Patt Burell (17); none of whom made the All Star team. This could be forgiven if he had speed, but he only has 5 stolen bases and his slugging percentage is a woeful .546. Jason Bay is a good player and he will improve, but at the moment, he is only slightly above average as far as outfielders go.

Felipe Lopez’s stats for the 200 season through the All Star Break:

The thing to consider when looking at Lopez’s stats is that he wasn’t even a member of the team at the beginning of the season. He started the year in the minor’s came up in mid-April when Anderson Machado injured his heel, and didn’t start at ss until mid May. Add to this the fact that Lopez usually either leads off or bats second, and it is amazing that his numbers are virtually the same as Jason Bay’s. Like I said earlier, however, the important thing is to compare him to other shortstops. So how does he compare? Well, among national league shortstops, Lopez is first in homeruns, first in RBI, and second in batting average (Omar Visquel is ahead by one point at .305). Even in comparison to other All Star shortstops, Lopez dominates. Omar Visquel is ahead in average, but has only 1 homerun and 30 RBI. David Eckstein has 2 homeruns, 24 RBI, and is batting .287. Lopez is also third among shortstops in OBP (slightly behind Eckstein and Visquel). Felipe Lopez is the preeminent offensive shortstop in the national league this season and he would have been chosen regardless of how many players the Reds had on the team. “

I stopped speaking and took a minute to bask in the glow of my own magnificence. The Canadian glared at me and said, “it doesn’t matter. They still discriminated.”

Some people are just idiots, I guess.


Meg said...

That one guy should have learned by now not to try to match wits with anyone and say things like, "How you like that, bitch?!" Lame...

The Sasquatch said...

He was joking. But still...he should learn not to mess with the awesome awesomeness that is THE SASSQUATCH!