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On Buchholz, BABIP and open minds

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 28, 2011 10:18 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. It can be difficult to use advanced statistics in stories for the newspaper, mainly because they're not a frame of reference for most fans. Still, I think it's part of the job to try and push the horizon a little it from time to time, especially with more and more fans embracing advanced metrics.

OPS, after all, was not something many people thought about only a few years ago and now it's widely accepted as a good measuring stick. The same is true of WHIP and even more advanced statistics like ERA+.

My guidepost is to try and write a story I think my Dad would understand. He's a long-time baseball fan and a pretty smart guy. But he has no idea what Fangraphs.com is.

Today's story on Clay Buchholz took a shot at explaining how a little luck played into his 2010 season as he benefited from a low batting average on balls in play.

Patrick Sullivan of Red Sox Beacon took the baton this morning and ran a little further with some excellent points about Pedro Martinez that added some context to my piece.

I applaud Patrick for his piece. It's a great thing when an independent analyst can write something about a newspaper story that adds to the discussion. This benefits everybody.

Daniel Bard talked a little bit about this topic yesterday. He said he never looks at his ERA as he doesn't find it a telling stat for a reliever. He's more concerned about his WHIP and strikeouts per nine innings. He also finds a win-loss record meaningless, at least over one season.

It was refreshing to hear a player talk like that.

Bottom line: Opening our minds to different ways of evaluating players and the game is never a bad thing.

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