Search This Blog

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Strat-O-Matic, Derek Jeter and Darwin

 photo credit

Many years ago, as a young baseball fan growing up in Southeast Indiana I was a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan.  This was largely because my entire family was infected by the same Reds disease.  Although Cincy had not made it to a World Series since 1940 my childhood was filled with hours listening to uncles and grandmothers and dads and cousins and etc. talking about Frank Robinson and Gus Bell and whether Roy McMillan's glove was magical enough to make up for his lack of power.  Even after we moved to Michigan, I would get to spend long weeks in the summers being passed around by relatives in Connersville, Indiana to discuss the Reds and spend long hours hiking around the hills or walking up and down limestone bed creeks and branches of the Whitewater River.  My room was filled with geodes and arrowheads and fossils and baseball cards.   Heaven was the 1961 Reds actually winning the National League Pennant!  Heartbreak was the loss of the 1964 NL race by one game, followed by a collapse of the pitching staff in 1965 and then topped off by the colossal stupidity of trading superstar Frank Robinson for a fairly good pitcher, a closer who had lost his fastball and a spare outfielder who belonged in the minor leagues.

I studied dinosaurs and could identify all the common varieties at a glance.  Of course I had to depend upon books and magazines and the plastic models cranked out by extrusion machines to collect dinosaurs.  But I did read lots of books on the subject.  Fascinating!  So as a kid probably my two favorite things were nature in general and sports with baseball in particular.    I can say I saw Ted Williams and Stan Musial when they were still players, that I saw Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle hit homeruns, that I shook hands with Johnny Bench (hands the size of shovels on that guy!).  I have found literally thousands upon thousands of fossils, had so many my mom made me throw a lot of them away (sadly deposited on a beach on Lake Michigan for others to find and wonder at, since most of them came from three hundred miles away) before I entered junior high school.

Baseball changed from a game to love and play and watch into a science for me.  The key to this was a board game called Strat-O-Matic.  I was given a game for Christmas and so was my baseball-mad cousin Steve.   We would spend hours playing each other and as a result began to understand a few things not obvious to small boys.   There truly was a lot more to baseball than batting average and home runs.  As managers, we had to decide to bunt or steal or hit-and-run.  We had to think about who tended to hit into double plays and when to try to steal.  We had to think about holding a speedy runner on base.  We could play infields in or at double-play depth.   Batting orders had importance.  Fielding ratings were also important.  Pitchers needed to be used correctly.   Their statistics were often team-dependent so a manager needed to consider how many baserunners the pitcher allowed, did he strike people out, was he a groundball or flyball pitcher.  Later games took advantage of platoon statistics and you needed to be aware of lefthanded versus righthanded performance.   (A lefthanded batter usually hits righthanders better and a righthanded batter usually has the advantage versus lefties).

I discovered that on-base-percentage was of greater importance than batting average and I determined that guys who got on base should bat early in the order.   It was also obvious that slugging percentage was important.  I would play players who would tend to get long hits int the middle of the lineups to try to get more runs batted in.  I discovered that a lot of major league managers were boneheads who would bat a guy in the leadoff role simply because he was fast and/or could steal bases.  Leo Durocher, for instance, ruined the chances of a few relatively good Cubs teams by batting the duo of Don Kessinger and Glen Beckert ahead of sluggers Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks.   Kessinger and Beckert were far below average as hitters and particularly not good at getting on base.   Therefore the big hitters came up with no one on base far too often and the Cubs underperformed.  The epic 1969 Cubs collapse was more a function of bad managing by Durocher and great managing by the clever platooning and situational substitutions used by Gil Hodges to lead the Mets to an improbable World Championship.

Luckily for me the Reds kept drafting and trading for good players and actually dominated the National League with the Big Red Machine during the 70's and baseball was for a time blissfully satisfying.  If my team wasn't in first place, it was fighting for it.  Good times!

One day I discovered a guy named Bill James published this oversized newsletter turned fat magazine known as the Baseball Abstract and discovered that I was a sabremetrician!   I soon became involved in fantasy sports, became a writer and administrator on some sites and was invited to join the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association).   I was even offered a job writing a column for a major league team (but it didn't pay enough to quit my day job). For awhile I have laid that aside to pay more attention to politics and business but baseball analysis is in my blood.

So where is Darwin in all of this, and what about Derek Jeter?   Here we go.

Derek Jeter is the outstanding shortstop for the New York Yankees.   He is already legendary in Yankee lore and one could make the argument that he is the best shortstop in Yankee history.   As the Yankees featured men like Ruth and Gehrig and Dimaggio and Mantle and Ford and Berra, Jeter will never be considered as the best Yankee player ever.   As a shortstop Jeter may well be the best Yankee ever all-around at that position.   But there is a problem with the perception of Jeter as a player.   Derek Jeter is a terrific team player, a terrific hitter and a terrific baserunner.   He is at home in the most tense situations and has performed well under pressure and on national television.    He always looks good defensively and is famous for that jump-throw to first base.   Jeter has been awarded four Gold Gloves as the best defensive shortstop in the American League.  Herein is the joke.

You see, Derek Jeter is NOT a good defensive player.   He is, in fact, one of the worst fielding shortstops in the American League.   When Alex Rodriguez was signed by the Yankees and agreed to move to third base, it was probably a bad choice by the Yanks since ARod was a better than average defensive shortstop and Jeter is just bad.  He looks good while he is doing it, but his range and abilty to turn double plays can and has been analyzed and he is consistently one of the worst defensive shortstops out there. Allow me to present a couple of graphics from the linked article.

3+ Gold Gloves and 10+ Years Experience (plus Ichiro)
Ken Griffey 471 -17 2 -15 10 79.2
Derek Jeter 415 -121 107 -14 4 68.7
Jim Edmonds 325 92 17 109 8 66.6
Ivan Rodriguez 62 154 135 289 13 66.6
Scott Rolen 252 141 21 162 7 62.2
Andruw Jones 110 240 17 257 10 58.4
Todd Helton 389 84 -112 -28 3 57.3
Carlos Beltran 255 71 18 89 3 54.6
Ichiro Suzuki 236 127 -52 75 9 50.7
Mike Cameron 126 96 19 115 3 46.6
Omar Vizquel -204 144 142 286 11 43.1
Eric Chavez 112 63 12 75 6 36.0
Torii Hunter 44 -20 16 -4 9 24.6
Luis Castillo 21 -1 33 32 3 24.5

You can go research Zone Ratings and FRAR and all sorts of metrics used to measure defensive abilities.  The fielding percentage doesn't mean much since it only measures the percentages of balls a defender gets to that he turns into outs.  What it misses is the most important thing - is he getting to an average or above average number of balls at all?   An Omar Vizquel makes a good play and throws a runner out on a ball that gets by Jeter for a base hit.  Thus, Omar saves his team runs while Jeter costs his teams runs.  After the baseball writers who vote on the Gold Glove awards were pressured and laughed at and even villified for giving a Gold Glove award to a bad fielder they finally quit doing it.  Derek Jeter may be the worst fielder ever to be given multiple Gold Gloves.  Kind of like giving three Nobel Peace prizes in a row to Yasser Arafat, the murdering pedophile beast terrorist from Palestine who is now thankfully no longer alive and then giving one to Al Gore, a lying pontificating pile of hypocrisy, a real monument to it in fact.   I certainly think that Derek Jeter has character that is far better than those two horrific examples of humanity.  In fact, Jeter may be an awesome guy who is just not a great fielder.

Now Derek Jeter is so good at everything else that he is a better all-around baseball player than Vizquel.  But defensively there is no contest.  Jeter should never have been considered for even one Gold Glove.  One year he was rated the very worst defensive shortstop in the American League!   Baseball writers are very slow to understand new means of measuring performance on the ball field.

So it is with Darwin.  He did identify natural selection a a driver for speciation and his observations gave scientists a platform from which to study speciation and reproduction and cellular structure and eventually DNA and so on and so forth.   Had Darwin simply been used as another step on the way to understanding the cell there would be no problem.  Had his hypothesis been cast aside once it proved untenable we would be in good shape.  But we have now identified the processes that take place in reproduction that absolutely make Darwinist Evolution a complete impossibility!   It is time that science admits this and moves on.  No matter whether or not you want to believe in God, so what, take your metaphysical hands off of science and let it run free to research and seek the truth wherever it may be found!

Derek Jeter is no Gold Glover.  Thoughtful analysis of his abilities have proven this.  Darwinism is no explanation for the vast array of organisms on the planet.  Thoughtful analysis has also proven this.  So readers, please go back and read the recent series on the way that the cell reproduces, the hardware and software thereof and think of the organism as it is, wonderfully designed hardware and software that we still study to learn ways to apply to our daily lives.   I cannot believe any objective study of the organism can possibly conclude that it happened by a series of multiple millions of happy accidents against all odds, let alone to conclude that billions of organisms of millions of varieties and hundreds, no thousands of kinds were all so amazingly lucky. 

Furthermore the luck has stopped.  There is no Darwinian evolution happening now.  There is no proof it has ever happened, just a load of evidence that it cannot happen.   So, yes, I conclude that a Darwinist is either so blinded by his worldview that he cannot see the nose in front of his face, or that he is evil in nature and prefers to support a lie, or is simply stupid.   On this blog I think the antagonistic commenters are all locked in to a worldview.  I hope none of them are intentionally evil and I would prefer to think that they are not stupid.  As Jesus said of the Pharisees that they were the blind leading the blind, so are the vast majority of Darwinist scientists and academics today. 

I am posting sporadically recently in order to get all my VMware certifications.  Virtual networking is the way of the 21st century and soon nearly all companies will be running hundreds of virtual machines hosted upon just a few actual physical X86 servers.  The top Fortune 100 companies ALL use VMware.  The world of IT does evolve but it does so purposefully because men who can think design new ways and faster ways and smaller ways and wiser ways to compute and network and host applications and so on.  As an IT guy my appreciation for the design of the cell has grown the more we learn.  Will we ever learn to copy the most intricate of His designs?   Not optimally but the study of the design of life has certainly been fruitful for mankind.  It is because we are copying designs from a Designer that such things work for us.  We do it in the field of information technology and as an IT guy I can say with finality that the cell is designed.  Period.


Jon Woolf said...

There is no Darwinian evolution happening now.

Not true. We have many examples of evolution happening right now. You've cited some of them yourself in past posts, and commenters have given other examples.

We do it in the field of information technology and as an IT guy I can say with finality that the cell is designed.

Being an IT guy makes you qualified to speak on details of cellular biology?


Speaking of "blinded by worldviews," how is it that you can admit that every single step in the evolutionary process is possible on a small scale, and still maintain that it's impossible on any larger scale? If evolution can turn a Hyracotherium into an Equus, then why not an Pakicetus into a Balaenoptera, or an Archaeopteryx into a Melospiza? Or even a Nectocaris into an Architeuthis?

I will give you this, though: you come up with some very creative analogies.

Hawkeye® said...

Being originally from Chicago, I was a Cubs and White Sox fan back in the day. Yeah, I had those cherished Ernie Banks and Ron Santo baseball cards too (plus lots more). After we moved to New Jersey, I kind of lost interest in baseball.

nba rumours said...

I wonder how many times have you had natural selection explained to you on for you to call it luck over and over again.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how many times have you had natural selection explained to you on for you to call it luck over and over again."

Radar doesn't seek truth. He has chosen his truth, and wants it to be supported by facts. Having selected the conclusion, he chooses his permissible "facts" accordingly.

It's a short-sighted game. Radar thinks by not conceding a skirmish he will win battles and even the war; instead he makes it clear with every skirmish to which he closes his ears that he can't play the bigger game, and that he can't honestly defend his position.

radar said...

I have a couple of days of IT training that take me away from comments and blogging. Hopefully someone on my side can answer these guys but if not the comments in this will make a nice template for my next post probably Wednesday. Gotta get those certs first!