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Friday 15th Dec 2017

Back when I was in graduate school, studying Dickens, Coleridge, and my favorite, George Eliot, I learned that there were pitched battles between two schools of literary interpretation.

Those schools consist of the Radical Historians--who believe writing is supposed to be read in the context of when the piece was written--and the Deconstructionists--who believe a work becomes new and subject to contemporary mores every time read or performed (in the case of a play).

The arguments between these two schools were insane. And, often amusing to view, as each side tended to be certain their perspective was the right one (although in fairness, the Deconstructionists were a lot more tolerant of the Radical Historians, though not vice versa).

I have found this same schema in most of life that affords us a chance to apply what we humans believe is a system of logic and/or belief. Certainly, religion and politics fall under it. As do judging movies, books, climate change, boxers, briefs, I guess just about everything.

Which includes, of course, baseball, where there are the classic tools school and the sabermetricians.

There is the school, a la "Moneyball," that is largely identified as those SABR-guys.

And, there are those guys like Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who claims that Dustin Ackley's struggles hitting at the Major League level was "the fault of sabermetrics."

Yeah, right. Ackley's inability to understand/apply the concept of plate selectivity caused him to miss the ball so many times as a hitter that he just could not make it in the Bigs.

But, it was not just Ackley. Somehow, in the throes of re-drafting and trying to build anew, somehow the Mariners have gotten stuck in an identity crisis worthy of the Deconstructionists and the Radical Historians. 

Oh, they have some nice prospects, like new second sacker Nick Franklin and third baseman Kyle Seager, along with some struggling guys, like Ackley and Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak.

But, they also have some guys who don't necessarily fit into the future, like Raul Ibanez, Kelly Shoppach and Aaron Harang.

In fact, if you want to track all these schizo moves, check out my mate Perry Van Hook's Masterblog piece Back to Prospects or Prospects Go Back. You can view almost all their moves over the past few seasons.

Mind you, I like Shoppach as a $1 roto catcher, and, even as a tutor to another interesting prospect, Mike Zunino, Shoppach could be helpful.

However, Wedge making statements like that of Ackley smack of those who flat out deny climate change without even considering the possibility of anything else. 

That is because what the sabermetricians are supporting is not taking a lot of pitches for the sake of earning a walk, but to work the count to both get a favorable count, as well as force the pitcher to throw a lot of pitches.

In fact, my inside understanding of Ackley's problems is rooted upon: "Ackley's progression after the 2011 season - he was a different cat in Aug/Sept of that year compared to June/July, spike in K rate, front side flying open, not covering the outer third of the plate, and got nowhere. A year and a half and no adjustments later, and it's apparently sabermetrics fault, per Eric Wedge."

This reminds me a lot of Harold Reynolds saying that Ben Zobrist could not possibly be the best defensive second baseman, irrespective of the mathematical support the fielding bible used to label him accordingly in 2011.

Now, I am not saying that it is not important to look at a player's skills, or tools, but I also think it is important to note that when a batter gets on base, the chances of his team scoring a run, or something happening, are greater than with no one on base. And, that pitchers who keep runners off the bases have a  greater chance of giving up less runs, and thus giving their team a chance to, uh, win.

Meaning Wedge's logic is akin to thinking the earth is flat, or that the sun rotates around us, or that there is not such thing as micro-organisms, which might cause disease. And, well, Copernicus, Galileo and Pasteur all were vilified for actually daring to question the status quo.

This does not mean OBP is as important in the scheme of things as say, curing disease or well, understanding our planet is round.

But, it does suggest an intransigence in thinking that is not only provincial, but in some ways dangerous.

Personally, I don't think the Mariners will do so well over the next few years, and that Wedge will pay the price not so much for his inability to see the forrest and the trees, but distinguish the difference.

Because if my sources are right, it won't help Montero or Smoak, or any of the Mariners prospects adjust, as all ballplayers must if they wish to have a successful career.



0 #1 Todd Zola 2013-06-01 18:26
Don't forget the other gem making it's way around Twitter after being resurrected this week (by Ned Yost?)

Home runs are rally killers.

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