# Liars Figure and Figures Lie, by Rodger Bastien

October 18, 2006 |

Danny Litwhiler, former St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder and my college baseball coach, was fond of saying, “Liars figure and figures lie.” Therein lies the problem with Moneyball and its application to baseball, especially in the post season. I find it bordering on ridiculous that talking heads insist on trying to handicap teams in the post-season based on measurables because to me, a baseball game — more than any sporting event — is dictated by the many intangibles. A ballgame turns on too many broken bat singles, home runs that graze the foul (fair) pole, checked swings that are ruled a strikeout, attempts at diving catches that roll to the wall; the list is endless and the difference between being a hero or a goat is the width of an eyelash. I love baseball because you can at once spend hours dissecting the mountain of available statistics or you can be absolutely simplistic in your analytical approach. I choose the latter. In the post-season, good pitching will always trump good hitting. I think that who wins or loses has more to do with who gets on a roll in these short series than empirical comparisons based on the 162 game marathon of a season which creates the compilation of those statistics. That’s my analysis. The rest is statistical noise, fodder for water fountain discussion and “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN but not much else. These games involve way too many variables to be predicted and to me it’s the convergence of the multitude of these variables and the impossibility to predict them that creates a ballgame.

Further evidence that empirical analysis of baseball is often fruitless in last night’s 4-2 Cardinal victory:

1. Chris Duncan became only the 3rd left handed pinch-hitter to homer against a left handed pitcher in post-season history.

2. Cardinals pitchers have now allowed zero runners in scoring position (RISP) to score in 31 chances over the last two play-off series.

3. Jeff Weaver, released by the LA Angels (in favor of his brother), 8-14 in the regular season, is now 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in the postseason.

4. Jeff Weaver, released by the LA Angels (in favor of his brother), 8-14 in the regular season, is now 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in the postseason.

P.S. You had to believe that the insidious nature of these markets would repel us from the comfortable (momentary perch) well above 12,000 this morning. Nonetheless, I share in your congratulatory mood in once again having your bullishness rewarded.

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