Monday, April 20, 2009

The Rickie Weeks “Good Start” Fallacy

I’ve been hearing some scuttlebutt around town that, despite the Crew’s slow start, people are encourage by Rickie Weeks’ progress thus far. The words I’ve heard bandied about are, “Rickie Weeks is off to a good start.” Let’s examine this, gentlemen.

First, let’s break the term “good start” down. “Start” loosely means his performance to date this year. It’s hard to debate that one. “Good” is a more difficult word, so I consulted A couple sample definitions are as follows: 1) Superior to the average; satisfactory and 2) of high quality; excellent. Let’s delve a little further into these definitions. Superior to the average of what? Rickie’s past performance or the league in general? Since 2009 Rickie is not competing against 2008 or 2007 Rickie, let’s compare him to the league. Still with me?

Rickie Weeks Compared to the MLB 2nd Basemen – minimum 38 plate appearances (see chart at left).
The conclusion:
Rickie Weeks is, in fact, NOT OFF TO A GOOD START! He’s off to an average start at best. Of course, he’s performing better than past years, but that just moves him closer to the “mediocre” category. Is the progress encouraging? Yes, it is, but he still has a ways to go.

The supporting facts:
Rickie Weeks is average in 3 categories and good in 2 categories. He is below the league average in 5 (!) categories including the always telling OBP & OPS. How, my fellow Brewers fans, can this be quantified as a good start? He’s mediocre. In fact, on Rickie’s Top 10 most comparable players on baseball-reference, 8 are catchers. Never a good sign.


Rubie Q said...

I don't know that a batting average of .271 vs. a league 2B batting average of .284 can be quantified as 'bad.' If batting average wasn't such a meaningless statistic, I'd suggest you throw that one in the 'indifferent' pile.

The fucker's only drawn one walk? Are you sure? [Checks baseball-reference.] Holy shit. Would you look at that -- a walk in the first game, and none since.

Was Todd Welter right?

Moongoose McQueen said...

Counting BB, AVG, and OBP all against him is kind of like a teacher who would not only take points off for getting a question wrong, but would also dock points if you happen to have a calculation on the page that had bad info in it.

See if I ever show my work again, you bastard.

Devil's Threesome said...

Ok Goose - then wrap it all into OPS - still below the league average at a poor offensive position. Again, progress, but still not a "good start."

Moongoose McQueen said...

Agreed. I think it really can be isolated to the lack of walks. His hitting is about average, and will likely come down a bit once his BABip regresses. The rest of the team plays as much a part in the runs & RBI's as he does. He's K-ing at about his historical rate. Factor in an unsustainable 3 HBP's to-date, and one could even argue that his OBP is inflated and he's actually performing worse than last year.

Rubie Q said...

There's also a contextual element here: with Braun hitting .222, Fielder at .175, and J.J. hitting .114, people see Rickie's .271 and say: "Hey, he's been one of our better performers."

And also: while second base is probably going to end up a "poor offensive position," it hasn't been so far. Second base is fourth right now in OPS (behind right field, left field, and first base; ahead of 3B, CF, C, and SS -- which has an OPS of -- ugh -- .715. Now THAT'S an offensively-poor position).

And finally: a post AND two comments from the 'Goose? "My God! That's ... that's ... that's McQueen's music! He's back!"

Rubie Q said...

Goddammit, two comments and I completely forgot this both times: Jesus, and I thought I was a nerd. You want to diagram some sentences later?