Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Oct 2012

MMQB: Paganostrong

Mr. King breaks down the Colts beating the Packers, takes a look at Shahid Khan wooing England, and waxes on Drew Brees breaking Johnny Unitas' record.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 08 Oct 2012

56 comments, Last at 09 Oct 2012, 2:37pm by Will Allen


by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 10:02am

Paganostrong? That sounds like a cheesy name for a crime-fighting team made up of Paracelsus, Nostradamus, and Cagliostro.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 10:42am

Or just a play on Lance Armstrong's foundation.

by Spoon :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 10:28am

m. Of course I watched the presidential debate. But I've told my editors I wouldn't be throwing out any partisan or non-partisan opinions on the race. Sorry. I know how many of you look forward to my well-informed take on politics.

n. So would I be allowed to say that the annual cost to every man, woman and child in the United States for PBS is $1.35, or should I keep that to myself?

So he's just trolling his readers now, right?

PK also confirmed every charge against him from last week when he discussed the AL MVP. If you found his reasoning on the Scott Walker tweet to be superficial at best, you've got another example when he writes "I would still probably vote for Cabrera, whose team made the playoffs while Trout's did not...". Uh, Peter? The Angels finished the year with a better record than the Tigers, and played a harder schedule at that. This includes the Angels' 6-14 record before Trout was even on the team.

Of course, this is all just pretending that team record should matter a damn to an individual award anyway.

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 11:27am

I think it's valid to take the team record into account when you're talking about MVP, but I don't think it's as simple as whether or not a team makes the postseason. I would argue that for a player to be an MVP, his team should at least be in contention for a large part of the season, which the Angels were.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 10:50am

PK's "beernerdness" and "coffeenerdness" sections get to me way more than they should. As someone who really enjoys good beer and coffee, hearing someone proclaim themselves as a "nerd" about these things and then devote column space to Keurig instant coffee or swill like Shock Top is incredibly irksome. It's like a slap in the face to anyone that truly appreciates these things.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:09pm

Glad I'm not the only one.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:21pm

I've stopped reading those sections. Follow my example and you'll find life more enjoyable.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:44pm

Why stop there?

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:47pm

I haven't actually.

I only click the link if someone here comments that he wrote something interesting. Usually I only read that specific section. Sometimes I'll read more, but regardless I ignore his "nerdness" sections.

by jebmak :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 12:55am


by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 1:17pm

It doesn't bother me, but it makes me chuckle. Reminds me of a guy I knew in college who was trying to impress some people by saying he 'listens to some really hard stuff, you know, like Kid Rock.' I of course chuckled and put on my Amon Amarth album for him.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 10:57am

For all the well-deserved carping about Peter King, his story about the Colts victory was a marvel of reporting and writing. That's the best thing I've read out of him in a long time.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 11:04am

Yes sir. Stories like this are where P.King shines and he deserves credit for effectively telling a very compelling story.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 11:10am

True that.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 11:13am

Sorry, back to the carping:

King approvingly quotes a Boston Globe writer about Cabrera's triple crown win: "It's historic that Cabrera won the first Triple Crown since 1967. But becoming the answer to a trivia question did not make him a better overall player than Trout."

When I read that, I thought, 'winning the triple crown makes you the answer to a trivia question?' And here I thought it was one of the most remarkable achievements a baseball player could accomplish.

Seven (mostly short) paragraphs later, King states: "Maybe it's because I'm 55 and I respect, but am not ruled by, the new baseball metrics, but Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown is a very big deal to me."

Consistency is overrated!

Sorry, Peter, 'playing shortstop for the Yankees in the 9th inning of the 7th game of the 1960 World Series, when Mazeroski hit the winning home run' makes you the answer to a trivia question. Winning the triple crown makes you a lot more!

(I think the answer is Clete Boyer, by the way--Kubek had been injured, DeMaiestri replaced him, but was pinch hit for by Long, McDougald pinch ran for Long, then came in to play third, with Boyer moving to SS. I could be wrong, though.)

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 11:42am

"And here I thought it was one of the most remarkable achievements a baseball player could accomplish."

Remarkable achievement? Its a collection of three arbitrary stats. Its no more remarkable than a hitter leading the league in SBs, SacFlies, and Doubles.

Batting average is a poor estimator for OBP, which is the real stat of importance. RBIs correlate more heavily to the OBPs of the guys batting in front of you than anything else, and HRs, they're nice, but they're not all that much more important than anything else.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:02pm

Wow, shortsighted much? It's a long-standing award and winning it has defined the careers of the short list of guys who managed it.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:13pm

HRs are way more important than anything else (assuming your anything else is the stats you mentioned, SBs, Sac Flies, Doubles). A HR is more important and more valuable than any other single batter outcome in baseball.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:46pm

Yes, a homerun is the most valuable event for a hitter. That doesn't mean that a guy who hits a lot of homeruns is necesarilly valuable.

Adum Dunn hit 41 homeruns this year and was a below average player.

Why? Because he played defensively unimportant position and still made outs on 67% of his plate appearances.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 1:04pm

You said that home runs are not that much more important than anything else.

Yes, OBP as a whole is more important than someones HR totals, but the individual act of a home run is as valuable an outcome as there is.

To compare the 'triple crown' to SBs, Sac Flies and Doubles is really a ridiculous argument. There is some importance to BA, HR and RBI. Yes, they are context dependent, but players with good enough batting averages to win a batting title are almost assuredly above average players. Yes, OBP is more important, but in this case Miggy's OBP was good anyway.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:06pm

"but the individual act of a home run is as valuable an outcome as there is"

Which doesn't contradict anything I said.

"but players with good enough batting averages to win a batting title are almost assuredly above average players"

Last 5 years, leaders in doubles (AL):

Year, Player, Doubles, fWAR
2012,Alex Gordon,51, 5.9
2011,Miguel Cabrera,48,7.2
2010,Adrian Beltre,49, 6.9
2009,Brian Roberts,56, 3.7
2008,Dustin Pedroia,54, 6.8

Hi:7.2, Low: 3.7, Ave: 6.1 WAR

2012,Miguel Cabrera, 44, 7.1 (had 40 doubles)
2011, Jose Bautista, 43, 8.3
2010, Jose Bautista, 54, 6.8
2009, Carlos Pena, 39, 3.0
2009, Mark Teixeira, 39, 5.2
2008, Miguel Cabrera, 37 , 2.8

Hi: 8.3, Low: 2.8, Ave; 5.53

Looks like (in a quick sloppy look), picking the leader in doubles would get you a better player.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:41pm

I don't think so. Three out of five years, the HR leader (or one of them) had more WAR; in one of the remaining two, the difference was negligible (2010). 2008 skews the mean.

But this is getting really far afield.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:51pm

The argument that 2011 skews the mean the other way could easily be made.

by SandyRiver :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 10:38am

The HR-leader avg is really 5.91. The 2009 tie should use the avg WAR (4.1) to avoid double-counting that year. Doesn't change the comparison, except to make it close.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:13pm

The last dozen guys to win the Triple Crown prior to Cabrera all made the Hall of Fame. (The only ones not in the Hall played in the 1800s.) Arbitrary?

by Spoon :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:29pm

The men of which you speak both won the Triple Crown and made the Hall of Fame because they were great players. They did not make the Hall of Fame because they won the Triple Crown. Yes, it is a somewhat arbitrary accomplishment.

Think about pitcher wins. You have to be a very good pitcher to win 20 games in a season. Winning 20 games, though, does not mean that you were the best pitcher that season. The Triple Crown is no different.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 7:46pm

Spam filter seems to dislike this thread.

by David :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 9:59am

Spam filter ain't the only one...

by Subrata Sircar :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 5:56am

To be fair, Cabrera had a very good year, definitely MVP-worthy. It's his good luck to have it in a year where no one else went off with the bat (if Josh Hamilton homers twice more, did Cabrera play worse?), when the players above him in the order hit well; it's his bad luck to have it in a year where someone else turned in not just one of the great rookie seasons, but one of the 100 or so best seasons in the history of baseball, taking everything into account.

The simple way to look at it is to say that an MVP vote for Cabrera is one that implicitly says "defense is a tie-breaker; players provide 90+% of their value with the bat". That used to be a defensible position only in the sense that we couldn't measure defense very well, while offense was pretty well understood and pretty stable. As defensive measures improve, we learn more about how it should be weighted relative to offense when determining player value. (So far, barring Dr. Strangeglove and Tris Speaker facing off, it's worth about half of what offense is when comparing players at the same position - players simply don't get as many defensive opportunities as plate appearances, and most players are within a relatively narrow group in terms of what they do with those chances. Individual players stats are pretty volatile, though - either defensive ability changes from year to year, our stats are mostly measuring noise, the sample size is too small, or a little from columns a, b, and c.)

This is far afield, but the view is instructive: It points out that just because we can't measure something doesn't mean it's not important, nor does it mean that measuring something and finding it not predictive means it's not descriptive. The FO folks know this one well - discounting long plays because they improve DVOA's predictive powers at the expense of its descriptive powers, for example.

by apk3000 :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:38pm

Of course, quite a few Triple Crown winners failed to win their league's MVP, which is what the "controversy" is all about.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 6:17pm

All of those players' teams also missed the playoffs.

by Kurt :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 8:21pm

How many of those players played when ten teams made the playoffs?

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:26pm

"Batting average is a poor estimator for OBP, which is the real stat of importance."

I don't believe that's the prevailing opinion in the baseball stat community. OPS correlates better to scoring runs. (BTW, Cabrera led the league in that too.) A lot of folks would even say that batting average is more important than OBP for anybody but the lead-off hitter. A guy like Cabrera, his job is to drive in runs, not take walks.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:43pm

" A lot of folks would even say that batting average is more important than OBP for anybody but the lead-off hitter"

Who are these folks? Theres a significantly higher correlation to runs for OBP than AVG.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:49pm

OPS isn't a particularly good stat either. Its been shown that a point of OBP is worth about 2 points of SLG, so OPS inaccurately weights towards power. There are a handful of much better stats (wOBA, wRC, etc) that more accurately portray a hitter's value. For all of them, OBP carries the heaviest weight.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 1:06pm

Yeah, OPS makes no sense. First of all, mathematically, you are adding two fractions with different denominators.

I agree that wOBA, wRC, or true average or many other advanced, adjusted stats are better. OBP is probably the most meaningful simple stat.

by Jerry :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 6:28am

Don't forget that when OPS first came to people's attention, the idea that someone would be able to look up any baseball stat on their cellphone was as unlikely as a team stringing together twenty straight losing seasons. According to Hidden Game, OPS was about as useful as more complex stats like RC and linear weights, and that's still true.

by Subrata Sircar :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 6:02am

Every hitter's job is to generate runs for his team. It turns out the best way to do that is to not make an out.

Even if you're Barry Bonds and everyone else is Rabbit Maranville, it's still better to take a walk. Even banjo hitters run into a ball now and then, and you'll score more runs if you take the walk then if you expand the zone and make more outs.

This is the first thing you learn whenever you look at any baseball season, team or even an individual game. If you make fewer outs you win more often, year in, year out. Read any book about the dawn of baseball; write about the famous rallies; play the game professionally; play Strat-o-Matic or any other simulation. All of them will make this point - a walk isn't a hit, but it's so much better than an out of any variety it might as well be a hit.

by not Verified (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 2:46pm

I agree that today leading in HR's, RBI's and BA is not (and should not be) seen as a mark of the best offensive player. However, Cabrera is a better hitter than Trout by a small margin. But Trout is a way (way , way ,...) better fielder than Cabrera. Historically the Triple Crown had been seen as the epitome of offensive performance, if Cabrera losing the MVP de-emphasizes these stats more, then that is a positive. However I still want Cabrera to win - Go Tigers!

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:30pm

"Cabrera is a better hitter than Trout by a small margin. "

Hitter, maybe. Offensive player, not so much:

Trout: wOBA .422, wRC+ 175, wRAA 55.4
Cabrera: wOBA .416, wRC+ 166, wRAA 57.0

(wRAA is only higher for Cabrera because he had 10% more PA.)

Trout is a much better baserunner than Cabrera, and that makes a difference.

And Trout is a fantastic defender in CF, whereas Cabrea is a significantly worse than average 3B. Maybe a terrible 3B.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:49pm

it really isn't even close. Trout and Cabrera are close enough at the plate to allow each side to argue their respective merits, but Trout is far more valuable on the bases and in the field. The MVP can be awarded to some noteworthy guy on a playoff team, like it usually is (I'm sure there are some old farts still angry about Andre Dawson), but the player who contributed the most to his team was not Cabrera.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 4:44pm

All of this just serves to bring up my biggest awards pet peeve... the definition of "valuable" as it's used with regard to MVP.

It seems that the current definition is "largest contribution to making the playoffs". And it seems that over the years the definition has just gotten stronger and more prevalent. Not "toward" making the playoffs, but to actually making them. Which means that if a team didn't make the playoffs, for this award, everything those players did has zero value.

That seems stupid to me. Very stupid.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 6:28pm

Cabrera is playing out of position this year to accommodate Fielder. Although he used to be a 3rd baseman, he's been playing first for years.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 5:16pm

I think the easiest thing to do with award controversies like these is to take a deep breath and realize that the people who care about awards at all are just plain stupid and move on.

No award changes the actual facts of the matter, so who cares who a bunch of out of touch fossils who don't even understand their own profession give it to.

Its like caring about who is elected Pope after you have become an atheist.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 9:36pm

That last sentence is priceless. Kudos.

by JoeHova :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 4:30am

Your glib analogy is more accurate than you know. Just like the selection of a new pope, finding out who won the MVP is interesting. If it makes you feel better about yourself to believe that everybody who is interested in things that you aren't is stupid, that's your right. As you said, it is the easiest way to view the world.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 2:37pm

Eh, I gave up on the Heisman Trophy years ago, because I came to realize that it had very little relationship to the actual value of the play on the field. The MVP Awards are not quite that bad, but not too far removed, either. I won't say people who care about that stuff are stupid, but I guess I view them in the same manner as I do people who watch "American Idol"; they just have a lot of interest in something that holds no appeal to me.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 9:28am

I won't pretend I understand it, but for whatever reason, the general public loves the idea of a bunch of egomaniacs patting each other on the back and telling each other how wonderful they are.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:23pm

"Its no more remarkable than a hitter leading the league in SBs, SacFlies, and Doubles."

"HRs, they're nice, but they're not all that much more important than anything else."

Yes, we all remember the summer of 2000, when an enthralled nation breathlessly watched Todd Helton's ultimately unsuccessful drive to surpass the season record for doubles set by the immortal Earl Webb in 1931.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:50pm

What we remember has little correlation to what is actually valuable. I seem to remember a lot of Nomar Garciappara futzing with his gloves.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 7:52pm

Dig yourself in deeper!

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 12:38pm

SI.com is getting pop-up happy. Every page, I have to wait for the pickup truck video to load so I can kill it.

by PirateFreedom :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:57pm

I use firefox and the noscript addon to deal with obnoxious and/or sketchy sites.
I use chrome for things like my bank and sites that aren't obnoxious

by jebmak :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 1:03am

I use a flash blacker in chrome. Picture ads don't bother me. Ads that take up more bandwidth and make noise can go **** themselves.

by Chester Allman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 10:52pm

As a Seahawks fan, I have to register my complaint about this column making me like Larry Fitzgerald even more: World traveler! Willing to try anything (food-wise)! Honors his late mother! Works to help starving people in Ethiopia! That plus his loyalty to the not-exactly-world-beating Cardinals. Seriously, Larry: you're making the rest of us look bad.

by Guest789 :: Tue, 10/09/2012 - 9:38am

I can't believe that I'm saying this, but The Office has actually been decent this season. I'm looking forward to it again, rather than out of a sense of obligation.


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