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Dodging Bullets

Mike SteffanosMonday, February 5, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

I wrote a piece on Saturday criticizing the annoying proliferation of supposedly analytical baseball articles that really are nothing more than ill-informed opinion pieces. I won't recap what I wrote two days ago, the full post can be found here.

I'd like to point that what I labeled the "bullet point form of analysis" isn't a criticism of everyone who writes with bullet points. Bullet points are a perfectly acceptable way to summarize for your reader some facts you have attained through your own research on a subject. Bullet point analysis, a term I coined to make a point, is a different story. That's when you state as fact something that you have not researched at all, but rather are just stating your own perceptions and prejudices with nothing to back them up. To me, that's just annoying crap.

What I specifically objected to was a somewhat silly story on a major sports web site that made the claim, among others, that Mets relievers were "massively overworked" in 2006. This is despite the fact that only Aaron Heilman and Darren Oliver surpassed 80 innings, with Heilman leading the bullpen with 87. Wagner was third with 72 innings, and no one else pitched more than 70. This hardly constitutes overwork, much less on a massive scale. 30 seconds on Mets.com could confirm this simple truth. Yet because this article appeared on a major web site most readers will accept this nonsense as fact.

Disagreement is healthy, and there are many out there, Mets fans and others, who legitimately feel that the Mets are making a mistake by going with the starting pitching as currently constituted. That's fine. Just use actual facts to make your opinions and I have no problem with them. For the article in question, that would have involved almost five minutes of research -- which I guess would have cut into the time the author spends watching cartoons.

To summarize -- bullet points and intelligent differences of opinion are good, lazy or non-existent analysis is bad.

Adam Rubin interview
Pat from Shea Faithful has an interview with the Daily News' Mets beat writer, Adam Rubin.

Wrapping up the pitching previews
I'm in the process of finishing up Billy Wagner, the last preview in the bullpen series. Then I'll probably do something on the other candidates for the bullpen who have already been mentioned in the series on starting pitching, and finish up with a piece that wraps everything up.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (3)

There never was a good reason for this type of fact-checking laziness, but these days, there's zero excuse for it, not with the resources available to anyone with the ability to post on a blog (i.e., a computer, an Internet connection, and the sense of sight).

A lot of Mike's links here are virtual treasure troves of tasty baseball nuggets. "Mets by the Numbers", "The Ultimate Mets Database", and even MLB.com's season and career comparisons, are quick and easy ways to either help prove or help disprove a theory you might have about a player or a team.

Trust, but verify.

Thanks Mike,

Agreed. but there are several prognosticators who look to forecast a Mets demise and will use some very thin data to make their case. I am very interested in who this yr will be on the Mets bandwagon despite the perceived weaknesses in starting pitching.

I too am skeptical of the lack of starting quality. we have depth and experience. There are two decent yardsticks though: 1. when does pedro return, and 2. Who steps into the backend. If those two turn into negatives then Omar has the assets to make a deal. Back in 2003-4 those options/pieces were not as well defined, and we are still gasping when reminded of the Dave Wright for Juan Cruz Jr deal that did not happen.

NostraDennis - Sometimes the truth gets in the way of the story someone wants to write.
Ed - I like to think by the end of the season at least a couple of young pitchers will have stepped up and given the team something to build around going forward.

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