Biggio Was Really Good, in Terms of Useless Stats

Okay, I’ve always found Craig Biggio to be a bit of a phony, but the guy knows how to do things in style. He gets five hits on the night that he gets his 3,000th hit. And on the night that he announces his retirement, he hits a grand slam which goes on to produce the winning runs in the Astros 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And Jason Jennings even got a win. Maybe Biggio should retire more often. But before we get too excited, just remember, the Astros are only 43-57, and they’re still only a game out of last place.

Now, I hate to say that I told you so, but I told you so. And what am I talking about? Why, the Chron’s deification of Biggio, of course.

Richard Justice, of course, already has him enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and tells us about what a wonderful world it would be if everyone were like Craig Biggio. And Jesus Ortiz is already asking readers for their favorite Craig Biggio moments. Now, you’d think people would be responding with great baseball moments, but since this is Jesus Ortiz, we’re being told about those Roma Downey moments.

But none of that crap tops this thing from this idiot. The Chron’s got a new blogger, and he’s one of those stat geeks. Now, I happen to follow stats, and I think stats can give you lots of useful info. But just because something is a stat doesn’t mean that it conveys useful information. For instance, I’ve always thought that the “quality start” stat was stupid – Larry Dierker used to talk about its meaninglessness as a stat when he was in the broadcast booth – because it tried to tell me that a guy who gave up three runs over six innings pitched a good game, and the reason that’s a stupid stat is that it's actually telling me the guy would give up 4.5 runs if he were to pitch the complete game, and pitchers giving up 4.5 runs per game generally see their team lose the game.

And until today, I thought that the “catcher ERA” – the ERA for all of the pitchers for all of the innings that a catcher has caught during the season -- was the stupidest fucking baseball stat that I’d ever seen, but I was wrong. But now, this Levine guy has introduced me to the stupid-ass stat of stupid-ass stats, something called the “winners share.” Any stat that is so complicated that the guy using it can’t actually explain it is, in my opinion, useless. And Levine, while using that stat, can’t explain it, but he tells me that it’s “the defining statistic of [the] game…” Supposedly, if you can figure out how the stat works, which I can’t because Levine can’t explain it, you can determine a player’s true worth to his team because his “win share” helps to determine how many games the player’s team would win, or, should he be replaced by another player, how many less games the team would win.

It’s a useless stat because it can’t be applied during the game. It can’t help you to determine where to position a fielder. Or how to pitch a guy. Of if there’s a certain guy on the bench who hits that situational lefty better than someone else. It can only tell you that, years after it’s too late, that Craig Biggio meant ten more wins a season to the Astros than Adam Everett. And I’m willing to bet that this stat doesn’t figure out how one’s teammates figured into the win-loss stat. For instance, what role did Jeff Bagwell play in Biggio’s win share? Or Ken Caminiti? Does Wandy Rodriguez’s mediocrity as a starter play into Biggio’s win share? I don’t know, Levine can’t tell me.

But I’ve digressed, because I want to address Levine’s argument with this stat when applied to Craig Biggio. And the stat’s used in support of Biggio’s Hall-of-Fame credentials when compared to Ryne Sandberg.

Guess what? Biggio’s got a higher win share than Sandberg. Now, even though I don’t really understand how the stat works, I’m willing to bet that, if Craig Biggio was the second baseman for some of those many god-awful Cubs teams on which Sandberg played, then Biggio’s win share would be a lot less. And, I’m quite confident that, if Ryne Sandberg was surrounded by the early-90s Astros team which had Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, and Luis Gonzalez, or some of the late-90s teams with Bagwell, Ausmus, Bell, Hidalgo, and Everett, etc., then his win share would be quite higher.

Look, Biggio is going into the Hall of Fame. There’s really no reason to doubt it. So why the need to go about making up useless stats to bolster a case that doesn’t need to be bolstered? The Chron’s already spewing enough crap about Biggio, there’s no need to go about just making shit up.

Oh, and if you thought that the Chron was bad before Biggio got to 3,000, well, that ain’t going to be nothing compared to what it’s going to be like leading up to September 30. The end of the season can’t get here soon enough. -- John Royal

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