It used to be simple, and beautiful

Not all things are better with science.
Take baseball.
It used to be such a simple, beautiful game.
It’s always been said baseball is a game of statistics and that’s true. Hitters were always measured by three things: batting average, home runs, and RBI. These constitute the Triple Crown, awarded to a hitter who leads the league in all three categories. It’s so difficult to achieve, the last time was 2012. And the last time before that was 1967.
Pitchers were always measured by wins and losses and ERA, Earned Run Average.
That was pretty much it.
And that was enough.
Or so we thought.
Enter science.
The other day I stumbled upon an article on about players that are having a good season. I’m sorry I opened it.
It started by listing players’ “slash lines.” Who knew there were slash lines?
It talked about OPS, whatever that is, and got into things like wOBA and xwOBA. And, of course, xBA, wRC, and xSLG. I don’t know what any of these things are. Nor do I want to.
It’s bad enough that when they talk about “launch angle,” I know what they mean. I’m not proud of that.
In the article, I read the reason Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is having an off year is that he is hitting “too many ground balls.”
All I could think of was seeing an interview years ago with Mike Schmidt, Phillies third baseman, about his approach to hitting. “All I want to do when I get up there,” he said, “is to hit it hard on the ground.”
With that simple approach, Mike Schmidt hit 548 home runs and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
No one ever mentioned his launch angle. Or too many ground balls.

Ed Ackerman