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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beware of Orthodoxy.

2013 SABR Analytics Conference highlights: Analytics Super Panel

They were introduced to the crowd as just Brian, Bill and Joe — no further introduction needed. And as they talked and joked for an hour, Brian Kenny of MLB Network, Bill James of the Boston Red Sox and Joe Posnanski of NBC Sports covered ground from the minor leagues to the Hall of Fame during the Analytics Super Panel on Saturday, March 9, 2013, at the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

OK, the description sounds pretty stuffy but I listened anyway.  One thing that made "Bill and Joe" sound especially smug was their passing observation that the USA team in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) was batting the SS and 2B at the top of the lineup: oh, will managers never learn?  The implication was that the SS and 2B did not have high enough On Base Percentage (OBP) to warrant that.

In last might's 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico, which eliminated USA, the box score shows good performance from the top two spots in the USA batting order:

United States AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Rollins, SS 5 1 2 0 0 0 0 .286
Phillips, B, 2B 4 1 2 0 0 1 1 .333

The WBC website is such a mess that I could not quickly find their OBP for the tournament but for that one final game Rollins and Phillips had the last laugh over Dean and Posnanski.  Good for them.

Maybe USA manager Joe Torre knew something.  Maybe he was stuck in old ways.  Maybe he was just lazy.

When people get too sure of themselves, I get uneasy.  As much as the former players talking on MLB Network sound dumb and out of touch, I remind myself that they played the game.  Players know stuff that we watchers never will.

Players know what it takes.

Players know who to trust, who can come through, who won't.

Players know there are such things as hot/cold and clutch/choke because they have experienced them.

Players are not rolling dice.

Players play the game.

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