Sabermetrics vs. Experience
When looking at modern-day baseball there is a lot of talk about sabermetrics and how baseball is a game of numbers. There are formulas that calculate wins and losses. The statisticians can keep crunching numbers, but for the results of the game it is all based on the players. The players have to hit the ninety-seven miles per hour baseball when there are runners on second and third base and the team is counting on them to get a hit and drive the runs in. A statistician cannot calculate how a player will react at that moment it is all on the player and the decision that he makes and also on the outcome of the play. Baseball is a game that is eighty percent mental and twenty percent physical.
The hardest part about hitting a baseball is described by all-star center fielder Tori Hunter in usatoday.com as “a matter of precision, adjustment and accuracy, and there’s not much room for error. Miss by a half-inch, and you can top the ball or hit it into the ground. You have to have hand-eye coordination to adjust to the ball’s speed, and you have to see the rotation of the ball.” The fact of the matter is that a batter cannot so much as blink during a baseball pitch because if he does then the batter will miss the release point, the rotation of the ball, or the ball will just be past the strike zone leaving the batter no time to react to the pitch. There cannot be statistics for a person’s ability to hit a baseball, or to get out because it is up to the batter or pitcher to make a play either strike the batter out or have the batter get a hit. Statistics can also not account for the ground balls that get through the infield between two defensive players or the bloop fly ball that dunks in for a base hit just inside the foul line. Baseball is a game based on experience, reactions, and having a strong mind that can handle the pressure of a situation.
A team that wants to win a championship has to be smart, they have to think about what kind of players they need on the team. This can be done during free agency, during the Major League Baseball draft, or during the offseason. Teams should first look into free agency because that is where players who have proven themselves in the major leagues before are in because their contract has expired and are looking for a new contract. Free agency is a key part in baseball, big name players are taken in free agency every year. Some examples include Jose Reyes who was an all-star for the New York Mets, he was one of their franchise players, but when his contract was up last year the Mets let him go into free agency and the Miami Marlins now have him on their team. Reyes is a threat to steal at any time provides amazing speed and his defensive abilities at short stop are outstanding. He is a pickup in free agency that will greatly impact both the Mets and Marlins. One other notable free agent pickup was Albert Pujols. He went from the world champion St. Louis Cardinals to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This acquisition was amazing for the Angels, Pujols on his career has 445 home runs and a career batting average of .328 according to MLB.com. With either of those players on a team it will bring success and the ability to build around those players with other stars or draft picks.
A team like the New York Yankees have won 27 World Series, they do it by signing great players that have proved themselves in the major leagues or they draft prospects into their farm system where they can prove themselves worthy of coming up and competing at the major league level. They have had so much success because they have the highest payroll in baseball. They go out during free agency and sign big name players that will help their team win championships. Some examples of players they have brought in within the last couple years have been C.C. Sabathia who has proved himself in the majors for years with the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers, he was an all-star with the Indians in 2004 and 2007 as examined by MLB.com. The Yankees brought him into their organization because they needed pitching and he was the best pitcher available so they went out and signed him, and they won a championship within the year they signed him in 2009. The Yankees also brought in Curtis Granderson who is a center fielder and he played for the Detroit Tigers prior to coming to the Yankees. Granderson had a breakout year in 2011 finishing second in homeruns with 41 also he was an all-star, he won the Silver Slugger Award, and the MLB Choice American League Outstanding Player Award (MLB.com). Those were two offseason free agent acquisitions that paid off huge for the Yankees and they went by those two players’ major league experience and their great career statistics.
A baseball player’s mind can be his worst enemy or best friend. Statistics do not account for cold streaks and hot streaks of players. Players go through stretches where they will hit anything and everything that a pitcher will throw at them, and also they go through stretches where they would not be able to hit a beach ball if thrown to them. This is where the mind of a player comes into play, when on a cold streak the player’s mind will not be confident and will not believe they are able to hit the ball, and they will not. When on a hot streak the player will not even be thinking about if he can hit the ball he will be thinking where do I want to drive this ball? Statistics cannot show those two characteristics of players, it can show how he hit the ball in the regular season which may not be great, but if he were to go on a hot streak into the playoffs and help the team win a championship his regular season numbers would still not be great. One other thing statistics cannot show is the amount of heart in a player. A player can have a batting average that is not great, but every time out on the field he hustles every time a ball is near him, runs out ever ground ball in case he may beat it out for a hit, this is not shown with statistics. Baseball may be a game of numbers, but it is also a game of experience, heart, determination, mental focus, and the ability to fight through adversity.
“Albert Pujols Stats.” MLB.com. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.
Mihoces, Gary. “The Hardest: Getting Bat to Meet Ball.” USA Today. Gannett, 2008. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.
“MLB Player Batting Stats- 2011.” ESPN.com. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.