There are old and poorly written jokes and sayings galore to the effect of 99% of statistics are made up. The point is that if someone wants to get a number they may be able to make the math work for it. No, I’m not saying Bill James and the entire Sabermetrics is just randomly making up stuff, but I do think they see a relationship between two items that may not really exist and can, through their intelligence, make a math equation to show said relationship.
For example looking at a pitcher’s production you can have ERA, which is the gold standard, FIP or fielding independent pitching, or WAR which is wins above replacement. The acronyms then go off to the next level and it looks like a box of alphabet soup exploded on Fenway Park. This issue then goes off on the same way for batting statistics and fielding statistics.
For me, I suck at math. I don’t get it, I’ve come to terms with my weaknesses in math years ago. I get baseball, I live it and I want to know as much about it as I can. My SABR friends tell me that advanced statistics will tell me what really happened to a player, season or team. I don’t buy it. I think these advanced statistics are a tool that, if you can understand the tool, will help you to see all parts of your subject, even if you weren’t looking at a particular idea yet.
But these numbers, for all the good they can do, cannot predict the future. The numbers in 2010 didn’t let us see what Mike Napoli and Matt Harrison could do. They didn’t let Jon Daniels and Rangers ownership see the failure of Koji Uehara and Yorvit Torrealba in 2011. They didn’t see the pitch to David Freese or Nelson Cruz playing two steps too shy. But they should have given us the opportunity to look at what players have done in the past as indication of what they can do in the future.
As the 2012 season is about to get going Rangers fans wonder what player X is going to do. What I recommend is look at their 2011 season and 2010 and 2009 if you can find it. That way you have a broad sample size of their work and can therefore use it to show a trend and at the same time predict with some accuracy the future.
As for me in batting I use the standard Batting Average/Slugging/On Base Percentage line as well as hits, homeruns, BB and strikes outs. Fielding I usually only rely on errors. For pitching I use ERA, WHIP and SO/BB ratio. Those statistical observations are enough for me to be able to see how a player is really playing without getting so number heavy that the messages of my posts are lost.
If you think you can pull either unseen information or a unique way to look at numbers through advanced statistics then use them, just remember what may be simple math for you could cause hours of work for your fellow baseball fans.