My Constant Battle with Statistical Evidence or Why Bill James Will Never Truly Love MeBy
What if the Marlins stink?
If you were to look at the standings today, you’d see the Marlins in fourth place. Not fourth place in Major League Baseball, not fourth place in the National League, but fourth place just in the NL East alone, three and a half games back of the first place Washington Nationals. (Yes, those Washington Nationals.) The team rebranded with not only a new logo and new ballpark, but with renewed hope and optimism after having one of the best offseasons in baseball, after thirty games, continues to hover somewhere around .500 in what looks to be the most highly competitive division in the National League.
I suppose you could argue that a .500 record isn’t terrible for a team that’s seen some of its best players suffer extended slumps this early in the season, and you’d have a point. However, I’d also point out that it took seven straight wins, a Hanley Ramirez hot streak, complete games by Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano(!), surviving a couple of Heath Bell meltdowns, and five home runs in eight games for Giancarlo Stanton just to get the Marlins to a place in the standings where they’d be considered merely average.
Maybe this isn’t the aberration, though. Maybe this is what we should’ve expected all along. Maybe it’s finally clicking. Or maybe this is just what happens when you play the Giants and Padres.
This is the problem I have with baseball (and oddly enough, only baseball). There’s a large part of me that relies heavily on numbers and data, as any reasonable baseball nerd should. Maybe I’m not on the same statistical level as some of my fellow Marlins Daily writers, but I’d definitely consider myself numbers-conscious. And that’s the part that keeps me grounded, because Jose Reyes couldn’t possibly remain this pedestrian all season, and a healthy Hanley will probably revert back to his pre-2011 numbers. The stats are all right there in front of me!
But, there’s another part of me—and maybe it’s just a tiny part—that still believes in gut feelings and “what ifs” and “I just know its.” It’s the part of me that wonders if the Marlins are about to get five mediocre years out of Jose Reyes. It’s the part of me that’s perpetually waiting for Josh Johnson‘s arm to fall off mid-pitch. It’s the part of me that’s scared to death that this new Marlins roster—a roster that I, and any number of baseball experts, assumed would snatch a Wild Card, easily—finishes dead last and kicks OPS+ and BABIP right in the teeth.
Extended periods of statistical randomness aren’t completely unheard of (Emilio Bonifacio, amirite?), but they sure make you question some things.
So, if this Marlins team does eventually finish the season as the butt of the NL East, what impact will that have on my faith in empirical data? The answer should be none, obviously; that’s silly.
But, I mean…ya know…right…?