For some context, I encourage you to read the comment section of my post on everything wrong with the MVP award here.
Comments like the ones in that post are not ones I normally pay any attention to. If the commenter is emotional and confrontational, like the one in that post I linked to, then the person is too personally invested in his or her views to be open to changing them. They’re not interested in facts, or logic, or reason. It’s a waste of time talking to such people, especially on the internet.
I’m more than ok with being disagreed with. I’m wrong a lot and I actually enjoy reading a good counterargument. That’s how you learn. However, if you’re not respectful, or you don’t appear to be interested in objectivity, then please don’t waste my time or yours.
I’m kind of surprised that nobody accused me of faking the argument in that comment section by either pretending to be the other person or by asking somebody else to help fake the argument. I assure you that the discussion is 100% real. When I first received the comment, I thought it was too perfect. Somebody offered up a chance to reinforce everything I wrote about in that post! That’s the only reason why I permitted the comments to be posted.
Like I mentioned in my responses, the arguments made were better than 80% of those made in favor of Miguel Cabrera. Unfortunately, they were still terrible. They were chock full of logical fallacies, an over reliance on outdated baseball stats and principles, and challenges that could’ve been answered simply by using Google. Not only that, but the commenter either didn’t read, didn’t understand, or completely ignored all my counterarguments. The commenter would also reply by just rehashing an old argument, as if she just said the same thing enough times I would just give in, or be too stupid to see what she was doing.
At first, I felt bad about using the commenter. Then I got a golden response yesterday. I deleted it for reasons I’ll make clear shortly. The commenter started by rehashing an argument about errors in her first comment that I had already agreed with. Then came the gold…
Sabermetrics is invalid because it’s not perfect! Because science is invalid if it’s not perfect! I, and every other scientist on the face of the planet need to quit our jobs right now because we have all failed miserably at our life’s work!
Then the golden jewel of the comment came:
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!!!
With the power of her own opinions, she invalidated an entire branch of mathematics! In all seriousness, when I read that sentence I didn’t know whether to be horribly offended or to burst out laughing.
Let me be clear, there’s nothing more arrogant than to think your opinions can counter scientific facts and principles. Only science can counter science. Anybody who thinks their subjective, biased, pre-drawn conclusions are any match for objective, fact based driven, peer-reviewed methodologies needs to check their ego.
There’s no such thing as small sample size. Just wrap your head around that. I’ve read lots of terrible, terrible arguments on all kinds of baseball topics, but I’ve never heard or read anybody denigrate something as fundamental as small sample size. That’s one I’ll remember for a long time.
Or maybe the commenter is on to something!
Maybe we should tell this to the FDA so that pharmaceutical companies only have to test their drugs on 1 person instead of hundreds! Sure lot’s of people will die, but those people will be wrong to die because there’s no such thing as small sample size!
Maybe all struggling experimental physicists should just publish all their statistically insignificant results! Apparently it’s all true because there’s no such thing as statistical analysis!
What about all psychology and sociology experiments? They can just experiment on one person, or a few people at most, and draw major conclusions that will alter decades of good science because there’s no such thing as small sample size!
Do you need to conduct a survey or poll? Well guess what? You don’t need to ask a lot of people because there’s no such thing as small sample size! Just ask one person! In fact, just ask yourself! You don’t need to do any work at all!
I can do this all day! Let’s apply this new-found knowledge of no small sample size to baseball!
If a player goes 2-4 with a home run on opening day, then there’s every reason to believe that the player will hit .500 for the season with 324 hits and 162 home runs! Didn’t you hear? There’s no such thing as small sample size!
If a pitcher throws a complete game shut out with 10 strikeouts on opening day, then why not assume he won’t have an 0.00 ERA with ~300 IP and ~330 K for the season? THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!!!
So to summarize, sample size, the crux of a major branch of mathematics which is vital to the work in many scientific disciplines, is invalidated simply by somebody’s desire to prove that Miguel Cabrera’s numbers in critical situations is due to some magical, mystical ability he has to perform in such instances! Amazing! So the 125 plate appearances that Cabrera excelled in during high leverage circumstances completely invalidates the 1,224 other plate appearances during that time span that he apparently took off! To put it another way, Cabrera chose to excel in 9.2% of his PAs because he tanked the other 90.8% of his PAs! Because outs don’t count if it isn’t a high leverage situation! There’s your 2012 and 2013 MVP everybody! How did the commenter’s revolutionary finding not turn into a featured article on ESPN, MLB.com, Sports Illustrated and every other major sports publication? Science isn’t true if you just say so!
But wait! Given this revolutionary new way to evaluate baseball players, is Miguel Cabrera truly still the deserving 2012 and 2013 MVP? Unfortunately, he isn’t! Let’s see what Fangraphs has to say about performing in high leverage situations in:
2012 Miguel Cabrera .365/.443/.712, 199 wRC+
2012 Josh Willingham .393/.507/.768, 242 wRC+
Ouch! Apparently the voters still screwed up! Even though Willingham’s line of .260/.366/.524 for a 142 wRC+ in 2012 is clearly inferior to Cabrera’s line for the season, Willingham was far superior to Cabrera in those critical situations that we now know is more important than everything else! Clearly Willingham should’ve been the 2012 MVP.
Let’s check out high leverage situations 2013 now:
2013 Miguel Cabrera .283/.469/.543, 164 wRC+
2013 Carlos Santana .372/.516/.651, 209 wRC+
Oh no! Not again! Another player was far superior to Cabrera in high leverage situations in 2013, even though he was far inferior to Cabrera the rest of the time. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the rightful 2013 AL MVP, Carlos Santana!
Ok ok, enough snark. I deleted the comment because it was incredibly ignorant, not to mention disrespectful to countless mathematicians and scientists around the world that rely on statistical analysis to do their work. I didn’t want my intelligent readers to have their brains melt. The commenter will no longer be allowed to pollute my site.
The commenter mentioned my passion for Mike Trout. My argument, as well as the inspiration for this column and the one it references, has nothing to do with how I feel about Mike Trout. My passion is for the process. A major motivator in starting this blog is to defend the process. I want to take the fabricated history and analyses back from all the anachronistic media types and writers who choose to put themselves before the integrity of the game. I’m almost positive I’ll fail, but that won’t stop me from trying. So if you’re an intelligent, logical, rational person who loves baseball and understands how science and arguments work, then this is the place for you! Please join me in Taking Back Baseball.