Houston and Simplicity

Houston is this cohort’s Wisconsin: swapping circuits (and now divisions too). Changing this instills junior/non-junior parity, obviously, and forms six divisions without any big or small. But this also disrupts parity, as (barring lots of off days), a circuit can’t pit all its squads up against similar squads.

This Astros gang has many distinguishing marks; a circuit jump, a low payroll, and swinging and missing. A lot. So much that it almost got no-hit (and no-walk, no-thing at all, and so on) by Yu Darvish to start out this campaign. But a hit with an out to go would stop that goal.

So thinking about that, I thought, any string of at-bats is a rarity. Looking at pitch counts, balls and fouls, hits and outs, you will probably not watch many pairs of twin innings. Any play is particular, not always part of a broad class.

But so what? Just saying “a run, two hits, strand two” is jumping to conclusions. Simplicity of a notion–“wow, no hits at all!”–is what allows us to pin down cool honors. “This guy got a hit and this guy did and four in a row struck out and, following that…” is still an unusual thing, for most days will not show that particular of at-bats. But “cool occasion to honor and brag about” is not just “unusual.”

Might this play into stats? To bat in a run is a straightforward thing to do–obtain hit, push run in. Accomplish mission. So you can tally up RBI and say “look, this guy had this many,” and fans will nod and say “uh-huh, cool.” OBP should look similar. “How many occasions did you try to bat? How many saw you find your way to first? Now do a fraction.” So straightforward! I would say this is not as much a complication as BA: “what, hits slash at-bats? What’s an at-bat? You can’t count walks? Why? This is so arbitrary.” I would think a fan who’s not so much up with SABR’s doings could quickly go “Okay, OBP has a lot of simplicity going for it…I know what this is. I might not know what’s a good, bad, or outstanding mark, but I can grasp it.”

But what about WAR and VORP? This is hard. It’s so hard to pin down, that major blogs did not work from a common calculation to find such a statistic. How surprising is it, that not many fans catch on to this?

Simplicity is not a trivial notion.


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