25 January 2011
I love advanced baseball statistics. To me, the Bill James crowd are geniuses who have taken the most beautiful form of entertainment and competition ever created and added common sense to the way in which it is watched. There's one Giant (pun intended) problem with these stats, though, and that would be sentences like this:
"You may think Albert Pujols is better than Ben Zobrist, but you're just a dumb-as-a-stick know-nothing RBI-lover. The fact is, Zobrist's VORP and WAR numbers, set as a logarithm to reveal expected wins or losses and combined with UZR and other advanced prognosticatorial projections related to anticipated values of defensive range adjusted for park demonstrate a BABIP that steeps heavily toward the conclusion that Ben Zobrist is in fact the greatest baseball player ever. Pujols. Please. Go back to your cave."
The problem with sentences like these is that they leave the traditional baseball fan feeling like:
a) I've just been called stupid
b) I have to be a geek to truly understand baseball
c) I don't even believe this because there's no way Ben Zobrist is better than Albert Pujols
My goal is to start a segment here at 24 Days of Magic that turns these complicated advanced stats into something tangible that we can relate to every day life so that all fans can use them comfortably. Because they are better. But you shouldn't have to be a geek with a superiority complex to believe that.
The inspiration came on a sunny day back in October as I had lunch with my friend Jon.
Me: Yeah, and she's watching the baby tonight so I can go to the playoff game.
Jon: That's awesome of her.
Me: I know. Her VORW is so high right now...
Jon: Her what?
Me: Her VORW. Value Over Replacement Wife.
Allow me to explain:
WHAT VORP STANDS FOR: Value Over Replacement Player
WHAT VORP MEASURES: How many runs a player produces as opposed to a replacement player that is defined roughly as a player at 80% of the league average in run production.
HOW VORP WORKS: The idea behind VORP is that in the end, the stat that matters the most for hitters is how many runs they produce per out. But rather than just assign a number based on stats, VORP attempts to measure a player's value by comparing it to the value of a mythical replacement player who has the same percentage of the team's at-bats.
WHO IS THIS REPLACEMENT PLAYER? The replacement player is the kind of player you'd get if your starter gets injured. In most cases, you don't have an "average" player on the bench. In the majors, average players are starters. The backup is usually a guy who is below average and who could be picked up on a waiver wire, traded for bad prospects, etc.
So how can we correlate this to the real world?
VORW! Or VORG, if you're not married. Or VORB or VORH if you're female. Or VORBD (Value Over Replacement Baby-Daddy). Think about it like this...
You're in a relationship that ends and you're suddenly single. Life is great until you realize you're a complete emotional/physical/gastronomical mess without your boyfriend/girlfriend and you need to get back into a relationship RIGHT NOW. The replacement boyfriend or girlfriend you find is not going to be "average." He or she is going to be the kind of boyfriend/girlfriend you find quickly because, "hey, they're not ugly" or "we both like food" or "he hasn't been arrested in months." It's a quick fix. It's the best you can do. It's (I'm so, so sorry) the Eugenio Velez of dating.
WHAT'S A GOOD VORP? Last year, Albert Pujols led the league at 81.8, which means he produced 81.8 more runs over the course of the year than the Replacement Player. Aubrey Huff led the Giants at 48.9. Barry Bonds in 2001 put up a VORP of 145.1.
CAN YOU GET A NEGATIVE VORP? Yes. Neifi Perez in 2002 had a -27.4 VORP. Which is payback for that homerun he hit in 1998 against the Giants.
APPLY THAT TO THE REAL WORLD, PLEASE:
-Your wife watches the baby so you can go watch Timmy strike out 14 Braves even though she'd been watching the baby all day: 96 VORW
-Your boyfriend pretends to forget your birthday so he can lull you into being surprised by a fancy dinner and flies your best friend in from across the country to see you: 86.4 VORB
-Your girlfriend walks around wearing a Buster Posey shirt and can tell you his OBP: 65.9 VORG
-Your husband walks around wearing no shirt and wiping orange Cheeto dust on his stomach: 8.1 VORH
-Your girlfriend says things like "baseball is so boring." 1.9 VORG
-Your boyfriend says things like "you're so boring." -8.7 VORB
-Your baby daddy is running for president and slept with you while his wife was battling cancer. -22.7 VORBD
Which means Neifi Perez must have had a REALLY bad year.
Why are you writing this post?
First, I want to help make VORP an understandable concept.
But more importantly, it's my goal to one day walk down the street and hear people saying: "OMG, he claimed his phone died but then I saw him texting like two minutes later and I know he was texting that hussy. His VORB is like negative 3 billion."
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