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Discussion: Statistics Shamistics

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July 19, 2006
Men's 50
3114 posts
Statistics Shamistics
I think stats and a stat oriented approach to evaluating and coaching a team, misses the most important aspect of a player, and a team
and that is, what is going on inside
at any given moment.
Courage, heart, determination, hustle,
self-lessness, confidence...none of these show up in any column any time and are absolutely critical to players and team success.

Plus stats can be down right missleading.
For example,
I've gone 38 for 40 in a tournament
and struggled ending up less confident
than when I started it.
The stats didn't prevent my decline from beginning:
they masked it.
My high school coach used to get infuriated when anyone mentioned their stats in relationship to anything important.
He said it made players necessarily selfish
and not team players.
I think he had a great point.
What do you think?

July 20, 2006
Men's 55
462 posts

I couldn’t agree more. Many players like to use stats to rationalize where they think they should be in the lineup. The trouble occurs when they hit for a high average in the meaningless games, but when it counts, in the championship round, they go belly up. Happens all the time. One guy might be hitting rockets all over the place right at someone and the the other guy is dribbling balls up the middle that squeak thru. Statistics never tell the whole story.

Then you have the guys so worried about their stats that they will take a walk when their team is up big just so they won’t hurt their average. And there’s no getting away from it. Now I have guys emailing me the stats, lol.
July 20, 2006
Men's 55
462 posts

I couldn’t agree more. Many players like to use stats to rationalize where they think they should be in the lineup. The trouble occurs when they hit for a high average in the meaningless games, but when it counts, in the championship round, they go belly up. Happens all the time. One guy might be hitting rockets all over the place right at someone and the the other guy is dribbling balls up the middle that squeak thru. Statistics never tell the whole story.

Then you have the guys so worried about their stats that they will take a walk when their team is up big just so they won’t hurt their average. And there’s no getting away from it. Now I have guys emailing me the stats, lol.
July 20, 2006
Men's 70
267 posts
I certainly agree with the previous threads in that statistics kept and especially in Senior Slo-pitch softball where the defense is not stressed as much, can be very misleading regarding both the emotional and physical performance a player brings to the game. I’ve seen coaches move players down in the order just after a game or two in a tournament when the team scorekeeper complies the hits and then derives a decimal value for each player to three places (i.e. either a batting average or On-Base-Pct) which is suppose to determine who hitting the ball and who’s NOT!

Someone may have just crushed the ball to the outfielders who made some great catches on him and consequently the hitter receives NO credit for putting a good swing on the pitch; whereas, another player could be mishitting the ball and have a higher average. To rearrange a batting order on that premise after just a few games I believe is foolhardy, but it’s done.

I will try and limit my comments just to the physical performance side of things that are measured by a set of statistics. I’m not intending to minimize or disregard or even undervalue player behavior as an integral part of the game’s teammanship and sportsmanship that are a requisite for us have a quality experience.

Term, “Sabermetrics”: Sabermetrics spawned out of the beginnings of Fantasy Baseball back in the early 80’s to my recollection. Sabermetrics analyzes the game of baseball through OBJECTIVE evidence, and then creates more meaningful baseball statistics. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the “Society for American Baseball Research”.

Sabermetricians challenge our traditional measures of baseball skill. One of the first things that was “exposed” from Fantasy Baseball Sabermetrics was that the players from teams winning the a fantasy baseball season were not always made up of players with the highest batting averages from the prior year.

As we all know, when the game is over we compare total runs to determine a winner and not from a team-batting average. For example: Chicago White SOXs 7, Boston Red SOXs 5; and not Red SOXs batted .341 and White SOXs batted.286 therefore; making the Red SOXs the winner!

What’s a really important measurement of a player's contribution are the number runs a player produces during a game and for the entire season that determines value to a team.

Like what was said before, some batters who hit those weak hits, you know them, bloopers, seeing eye dog grounder hits that make it to the grass and then die, flares, second cousins to a line drive, Texas leaguers, grenades, 64-degree wedges, etc.. The players that rely on hits that barely find their way through the infield or just lobbed over as the case may be, may produce a higher average that other but may not be as productive for the TEAM. Someone who drives the ball in the alleys to the fences with runners on board may have lower batting average but makes things happen in a hurry.

Granted it is a team game and if you get on base you are pretty much dependent on the guys that follow in the lineup to score you. But if you hit a three bagger that clears the bases and the next guy Sacs a fly, you will have produced (4) big runs for your team in a flash.

What I like to do personally when put in charge of team statistical releases for our team, is to create another column outside the traditional column data that sums up runs scored and runs batted in into one category. Then I use this column as another indicator for coaches to use over the course of a season.

Bashbro1 (Living in Kent, WA right directly across the street from the Russell Road Softball Complex site for the SSUSA/SSWC World Championships this Sept.)

July 20, 2006
Men's 50
3114 posts
Killer comments, Bash.

I guess for me
it comes down to character.
I can size up a ball player
and I think most of us can
and tell how good he is
and how important he would be
in helping a team play it's best.
If you want to win
you look for things like
hustle, leadership ability, integrity
courage under fire, determination,
growth potential and attitude.

Also, you can see and measure the kind of influence
a guy has on his teammates.

On one end would be a guy
who hits 800 but makes guys on his team
feel less than and insecure.
Think Ted Williams.
On the other would be a player
who makes his teammates
feel important and play better.
Think Larry Bird.

There's no stat for this and it's easily
the most important aspect to consider
in evaluating any player.

July 20, 2006
Men's 60
1024 posts
Einstein you definitely have some interesting thoughts. Personally I look at several things with my performance in relation to a team. Speed kills at all levels. Pressuring another teams defense messes up their hitting. If Im running well and smart I play better, seems to fit in well with a team game. Guys that make routine plays especially in a hitters game, keep 2nd base open, get the outs the offense gives you etc. And I think the amount of Double plays a person hits into is important, most double plays are from a lack of discipline. Guys that hit middle with men in a force position to me is unforiveable. Those are my stats.
July 20, 2006
Men's 50
3114 posts
Terrific comments you guys and I'm glad to see
I'm not dangling from a pole in outer space
on this one.
Lecak, speeed.
I forgot all about that one.
You're right.
Speed kills on offense AND defense.

In a contest of wills which undergirds any sport
your batting average going into the game
means absolutely nothing to any contender.
It's all those other things which contribute to convincing your opponent that he's not going to win.

And as you suggested, Gary, defense,
is just as important, goes unrecorded and
for many is THE key to winning championships.

I know teams who take their All Tourney Awards
right off the batting average totals,
irrespective of anything else.
Not eough info, for me and sometimes, the wrong info
upon which to make important judgments.

July 20, 2006
mad dog
Men's 65
4153 posts
joe you might not be on a pole but you will always be in outer space :):):)
my first senior keep stats,but we never change the line up unless someone was missing.our stats and i mean our guy kept it all, was for bragging rights on our team.we all knew our place in the order and would get upset if our coach changed it regardless of moving up or down in the order.also made it easier to remember who you batted after you know us seniors
July 22, 2006
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Dog,

Only one thing to say to an old hound like you...

Just want to accentuate what I've been realizing
is the most important column that can be applied
to evaluating any team player and never shows
up in any box score I've ever seen.
And this is,
his affect on his teammates
in both quality and quantity.
Does he make them better/worse, in what ways
and by how much?

July 22, 2006
328 posts
Stats are great....when you are hitting well.

I think that BASIC stats (ie:OBP) are helpful if you want to win games. Over the long run, they tell the story.

You are going to have to hit over 600 or you are not going to win many games. If half of your lineup is @ 500, the other half better be @ 700

After enough data has been gathered, you can look and see where you might want to make changes.
July 23, 2006
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Jon,

There's an old argument from college religion days
that refers to an idea independent of its religious
It was Old Tesmament thinking versus
New Testament thinking.
Old testament thinking was litteral.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Something like what's going on in the middle east today.
Then there's new testament thinking
that was based more on meaning than facts.
Questions like what is the nature of this act
or what is really going on here
signal the true value of anything.
I guess I prefer the New Testament approach
which deals with the heart and soul of issues
beyond their facts and stats.

So, I prefer and trust looking at and into the whole player to judge value and ability
before, during and after performance
over any statistical or factual notions of value and achievement.

July 24, 2006
328 posts
""I prefer and trust looking at and into the whole player to judge value and ability
before, during and after performance
over any statistical or factual notions of value and achievement.""

If you do that, you must be very careful not to let your selective memory come into play.

For example, you may remember that a certain player made a crucial error in an important game which stands out more than his generally solid performance.

On the other hand, someone may have had a stellat tourney only to have never repeated this performance.

You can use numbers to help track this sort of thing. They are less fallable than the (old) human memory.
July 28, 2006
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Gary,

And Steve probably deserved it.
I played on 2 would be National Champions who will go
nameless where going 0 for 4 would have benched
When I go 0'fer I start getting mad
and like Steve, are more likely to get a hit
sitting O'fer than 4 fer 4, where I tend want to relax too much.
Again showing that at least for guys like me and Steve
the stat approach just doesn't work.
If it did, you'd see professional teams in all sports
changing guys all the time and you know,
we just don't see it.
I think it undermines the security of the player
and the team at the same time
and breaks down team chemistry
instead of building it up.
Yet, on All-Star teams or on special
teams assembled just to do battle and then disperse
the quick change approach can make more sense.

July 28, 2006
328 posts
In the scenario you described, the guy who hit the HR shouldn't have been MVP IMO. He was just lucky enough to connect at an opportune moment.

Here is MY scenario.

Championship game. Bottom 7, chasing 1, 2 outs, 1 on.

Bob (0 for 4 in the game) gets a base hit, advances runner.
Everybody cheers YAY BOB!! CLUTCH hit!!

Jim (4 for 4 in the game) steps up and fails to score the run.
Game over. Nobody cheers.

In a lot of people minds, Jim was the one that didn't come through. The STATS will tell you that he was likely the most productive member on the team..

If "Cluth Bob" would have done his job and gotten a couple of hits earlier, Jim would not have been put in that position.

Stats like OBP record the entire event, not just the highlights or lowlights.
Aug. 1, 2006
328 posts
Usually, when a person says "trust me", I am naturally suspicious of what comes next.

I don't know Steve. I was only using the information I had available to me.

Now settle down and eat more fiber.
Aug. 2, 2006
Men's 50
76 posts
OBP? In slow pitch softball? You can go 0-4 and have a
1.000 OBP. OBP is not a worthy measuring stick in slow pitch softball. I'm not saying that BA is the true measure of a players value, but it sure rates ahead of OBP.
Statistics don't lie if you're scorekeeper is fair and knows what he is doing. But, as for awards, it's nice to be recognized by your fellow teammates, however, an 'atta boy' is enough for me and should be enough for any 50-85 year old man. Come on kids, we're not 8 years old anymore.
We don't need a 'participation' award to make us feel like we've accomplished something.
I pay out of my own pocket (as do 99%of the people on this board) to play this game that I love. I want to win as much as the next guy and I'll sacrifice my stats to help us win.
But, when I go home, I don't write down what I accomplished or care if anyone else knows what I did.
I love this game that I've played for, lo, these many years.
And I'm going to continue to play as long as the Good Lord allows. And, if I'm not given an award, that, in my mind I might have deserved, or, Gary 19, if they take away the U-2 (which you and I don't use anyway), I'm still gonna be there laughing and running,diving and sliding because its what I've always done.
Whew! I didn't mean to ramble on this early in the morning.
Aug. 2, 2006
Men's 50
76 posts
You can reach base on 2 fielders choices and 2 errors.
You're 0-4 but have reached first base safely every time.
Your OBP is 1.000
Aug. 2, 2006
Men's 65
3146 posts
You shouldn't count a fielder's choice in obp since it results in an out.
You could reach 4 times, each on an error; twice on walks and twice on errors. Or, any such combination.
You can't score if your not on base (unless you hit a hr)!
Aug. 2, 2006
Men's 60
1718 posts
OBP is the most important thing in slow pitch softball. Hits and walks only!!! Not errors or fielders choices.
Aug. 2, 2006
Men's 50
76 posts
Boy, do I feel stupid. I'm wrong, guys.
You are right. According to Major League Baseball, OBP = Hits + BB + Hit by Pitch (for baseball stats) divided by Plate Appearances. Should have checked that out before 'spouting off'. Well that means I'm now 99-100.
That's an OBP of .990 (not bad).

The balance of my original post was what I feel strongest about anyway.

Play for the fun of it, but, play hard and play to win.
Feel good about the effort you put forth.
Aug. 2, 2006
Men's 65
3146 posts
OBP is what you want it to be. There isn't a rule stating that you must count walks, errors or fielder's choice. Again, it's what you want to make it. You can't take baseball obp and say that is what softball obp should be.
The teams that I have played with for the last 5 years have agreed that obp should be however you reach first base, except by fielder's choice. In case of a double play I counted that batter with TWO at bats!!! Some teams count sacs, I don't. I have given in to guys that say if the sac is in the last inning and wins a game it isn't counted as a time at bat.
I like counting errors because it removes the question of the ball taking a "bad hop" etc. Its cut and dried, you make it to first, it's a "hit".
What difference does it make anyway, If you count errors it might add 50 or 100 points to you obp. Just adjust your mind to realize that a player that hits 750 opb may be actually hitting 700 if you didn't count errors.
Aug. 4, 2006
328 posts
The only thing that REALLY matters is that you get on base without making an out.

When keeping stats, I prefer to keep it simple. I do not consider errors because it all works out in the long run. No one player is luckier than the next. meaning that all will get the same percentage of errors. That also eliminates the great debate on if it was an error.

It's a TEAM sport.

I think guys that are ableee to take walks are highly under rated. It shows that they are patient and team oriented.

I am one of those clowns with almost NO discipline, that swings st the first pitch I can reach, and my stats prove it.
Sept. 20, 2006
1 posts
I just recently found this web site and this conversation and felt I had to add to it. Growing up as a softball kid (my father followed the game - and dragged us with him) and I have to agree with Gary19. Steve Loya was not only a great all around player, he was a TEAM player...and as a coach, manager or teammate, that is something that cannot be replaced no matter what stats you have. Of course it helps when you are a player that can hit in a clutch situation (which he did), but it does mean a world of difference to the attitude of the game with the team (if they are team players also). A positive attitutde brings a lot to the game. It was quite refreshing and brought back a lot of memories seeing the name "Steve Loya". He was a GREAT player all around. My dad spoke highly of him and what a gentleman he was.
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