Yesterday, Ryan sent me a link to an Astros-related article that I simply had to share with the rest of you. I don't quite know how to introduce it. On May 7, a person named Neil Greenberg published this work that you can observe for yourself by clicking on this link.
The thrust of the article is: The Astros are bad, and here are some things to prove it. Several things jumped out at me like a bad-journalism shark leaping from my monitor and taking a bite out of my sanity:
- The Headline: "Houston, we have a problem." This is the most clever headline ever. Really. No, really, nobody has ever used or said this before in any context outside of the Apollo 13 cockpit. Ever. Not once.
- The premise: statistical reasons why the Astros suck. So here are batting average, Total Zone, and some run support thing that I can't even comprehend (see below).
- The photo: Because nothing says "Astros suck" like a photo of Jerome Williams wiping sweat while wearing a pink glove.
- The teaser: The Astros have a 0.2 percent chance at the postseason, because of the enlightenment about to be presented below. (Actually the reasons are what makes the teaser bad. These are THE ONLY reasons why the Astros have a 99.8 percent chance of missing October play.) SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE!
- "They Can't Hit". We have all established conclusively that batting average is the ultimate measure of offense. No, walking doesn't matter. Slugging doesn't matter. BABIP doesn't factor in at all. No, batting average alone, compared to other AL clubs, conclusively proves, not that they are bad at hitting, but that they literally are incapable of getting a hit. And that April stats alone can prove this.
- The Title of the Run Support chart: "Runs scored/27 outs in the entire game when the pitcher started." I don't even know what this means. I don't know what the chart represents. And how can one just arbitrarily exclude data for games in which no pitcher started? That seems to point towards selective bias, to me.
- Fielding chart. Hoo boy, where to start. The Astros shift more than any other team in baseball. Total Zone excludes plays where the shift is used. TZ was created to evaluate players who played prior to 2002. It takes an insane number of plays for any defensive stat to mean anything at all. This chart is so inconclusive and useless that it makes my head swim.
- The samurai: The implied point here is that the hapless Astros are so ridiculous that they'll stoop to cheap stunts to generate interest. Except there's one problem - the Samurai threw out the first pitch IN DETROIT. As in, the stunt was organized by the Tigers, for Tiger fans.
- The bullpen: Obviously, the three points mentioned above are the problems with the Astros. Their bullpen (6.24 ERA, worst in the major leagues by over a run) has absolutely nothing to do with the Astros' record. If the relief pitching had been a problem, surely it would have been noted in this article that is telling us exactly why the Astros suck, right?
- The author's blurb: Apparently, Mr. Greenberg (who prefers to be called a geek than a nerd), analyzes advanced statistics. Advanced statistics like batting average and "runs scored per 27 outs when the pitcher started."