Advanced statistics or “sabermetrics” such as FIP, WAR, OPS, BABIP, and UZR have become as common in baseball as RBI and ERA. People like Bill James have written books on top of books on the subject of advanced statistics. Sites like Fangraphs, consistently produce content that delves deeper into a player’s performance.
Teams like the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and of course the Oakland A’s have entire divisions dedicated to producing advanced statistics on a player. I say “of course” for the A’s because it was in the book Moneyball that featured A’s GM Billy Beane where sabermetrics became mainstream.
As for me, I think anyone who has read my blog on a consistent basis, knows I try to use a combination of sabermetrics and the good ole fashion “eye test” when talking about a player or a team. I believe that sometimes you have to watch the games to really see what is going on, rather than just looking at a stat and making an evaluation.
If the sabermetrics and the eye test don’t correlate, then I do my best to understand why and then try to make an informed opinion.
This brings me to the subject of the Kansas City Royals. Because the Royals are playing the Boston Red Sox, I have watched every Royals game for the last three days.
What shocked me about these last three days is not the fact that the Red Sox blew two, six run leads on Monday night (still extremely angry about that one), but it’s the fact that the two Royal announcers — Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White have snickered at the use of UZR for the entire series so far.
For those of you who are not familiar with UZR, it stands for Ultimate Zone Rating. UZR determines the number of runs below or above average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs, and error runs combined. I would say right now, it’s one of the leading ways, if not the leading way to determine a player’s defensive abilities.
Apparently the Royals announcers don’t think so. They have mocked this stat all series. It’s almost gotten to a point where they have gone out of their way to do so. They have essentially said how unimportant it is in determining who is a good defensive player.
To be fair, it’s mostly been Lefebvre.
I keep asking myself throughout this series so far, why Lefebvre is dismissing this stat like a college kid dismisses a sensible diet? Then it hit me. Royals’ GM Dayton Moore doesn’t believe in defensive sabermetrics either.
Dayton Moore became famous or infamous perhaps in baseball circles when he made this gem of a comment…
“The defensive statistics – I still really don’t understand how some of those statistics are evaluated, I really don’t. When you watch baseball games every single day, its very apparent who can play defensively and who can’t.”
Based on these comments, it’s no surprise the Royals are one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. Their team UZR is -40.1, which ranks 28th in baseball (Only the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets are worse). If you want a comparison, the Seattle Mariners are the best defensive team baseball with a 76.2 UZR.
The Royals have collected a defense filled with a bunch of hacks. Even if you use the “eye test” you can see that watching a Royals game. Sabermetrics, even more so, emphasizes the fact.
It seems that the lack of use for sabermetrics is an entire organizational philosophy in Kansas City. From Dayton Moore, to Ryan Lefebvre, and all the way down to probably the summer intern — sabermetrics are overlooked.
The quicker the Royals embrace sabermetrics, the quicker the Royals will begin turning things around.
If not, it might be another 25 years before they win another World Series.
*All sabermetric stats in this post were courtesy of Fangraphs — a site Dayton Moore and the rest of the Royals organization has clearly never frequented.