By Jeff Moss
August 17, 2013
It takes a lot to keep Terry Foster’s constant buffoonery from headlining a story on the DSR these days, but Detroit Free Press relic baseball scribe John Lowe did the trick with an asinine article published in Friday’s paper.
This mathematically-challenged fossil — who created the most idiotic stat (the Quality Start) in baseball history other than the “Save” — was back at his sabermetric-denying best in this piece about Prince Fielder.
(Do I even need to address the awfulness behind the logic of the Quality Start? First, it is totally based on a severely-flawed metric, Earned Run Average, which doesn’t take into consideration a pitcher’s fielding behind him or the park in which he is throwing. Second, you actually get CREDIT for giving up three runs in six innings. Because nothing says QUALITY like an ERA of 4.50 in the National League.)
John Lowe frequently flies under this website’s radar because it doesn’t seem like he writes much anymore. My impression is that Lowe has wrongfully achieved some sort of Baseball Writer Emeritus status at his paper due to longevity alone. But make no mistake about it, this guy is a pox and a travesty of a journalist who constantly is dumbing down the baseball discourse in Detroit.
Let me put this in a language that everybody here can easily understand™ (“Cult of Personality”): If the big issue of the day in the film Footloose was advanced baseball stats and not teen dancing, this goofy, straw-hat wearing mongoloid would be the John Lithgow character.
John Lowe despises sabermetrics. I know it is hard to believe that a man who wears a straw hat in the Year 2013 is anti-forward thinking, but it is true.
In what could only be interpreted as a big FUCK YOU to the SABR community, Lowe filled out his 2012 AL MVP ballot with the names of two closers and RAUL IBANEZ.
Lowe performed the sports award voting equivalent of a monkey throwing his fecal matter all over the side of his cage when he cast his ’12 ballot.
Raul Ibanez? Yep, Lowe placed RAUL IBANEZ tenth on his AL MVP ballot. Now, I could give you a lengthy breakdown of why this vote should have resulted in the BBWAA stripping Lowe of his ballot in sabermetric terms, but I will just give you Ibanez’s flat-earth metrics to make my case.
.240 batting average
And this bible-thumping cretin put THAT guy on his ballot instead of deserving candidates like Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano. Imagine an Emmy voter ranking Army Wives ahead of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Boardwalk Empire. Well, that STILL wouldn’t delve deep enough into Lowe’s complete slap in the face to common sense.
I could go on, but I will let you peruse this well-written piece by Joe DeLessio on how idiotic it was for Lowe to give NEW YORK Yankees outfield Raul Ibanez a tenth-place MVP vote.
From NEW YORK MAGAZINE!!!!!!!
And if that isn’t enough evidence for you, Deadspin recognized Lowe’s ballot to be the worst overall during the 2012 baseball awards season:
Winner: John Lowe, Detroit Free Press, AL MVP. This is a ballot filled out by clicking “random” on Baseball Reference, or perhaps by having a pet rooster peck at box scores. This is “the top 10 players John Lowe can think of right now.” Orioles closer Jim Johnson is third. Jeter is fifth, and Cano is nowhere to be seen. Fernando Rodney is seventh. And Raul Ibanez—pre-playoff Ibanez, who didn’t start 100 games and had a bWAR of 0.3—that Raul Ibanez is 10th, because fuck you, that’s why.
So that’s the backstory. Now, here is how it relates to what this “climate change denier” wrote about Prince in Friday’s Freep. Lowe attempted to wash away all of Fielder’s 2013 deficiencies by trumpeting Fielder’s RBI total in the first two paragraphs of a story that was SUPPOSED to be a RECAP of Thursday’s game.
Prince Fielder is fifth in the American League with 83 RBIs. He’s on a pace for 112, which would be five more than he had last season and six above his career average.
But because Fielder’s average and homers have dropped, a perception has arisen that he’s not producing as usual. Of the six longest homerless streaks of his career, three have come this season.
Lowe’s lede was Fielder’s RBI total. In a game summary of the Tigers 4-1 victory over the Royals!!!! I mean, who DOES THAT?
I’ll tell you who. A man who is hell-bent on keeping his readers buried in 1945 data. John Lowe and this sort of thinking is the 2013 equivalent of using a typewriter instead of a laptop to bang out these stories, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Lowe is still utilizing an IBM Selectric.
“Hey honey, did you make sure to pack the straw hat and the 50 pound typewriter for the trip to Cleveland and Chicago?”
There is not a perception that Fielder isn’t producing as usual. IT IS A STATISTICAL FACT. And of course this dinosaur creates a false argument regarding Prince’s 2013 batting average. Another archaic figure.
No, you mathematically-impaired dummy. We know Prince’s offensive output is down because his SLUGGING PERCENTAGE is 90 points lower than his career average and his on-base percentage is 39 points lower than his .388 norm!!!!
Fuck, we don’t even need to look at any advanced stats to figure out Prince is having an off-year despite his RBI total. His own teammate felt the need to explain Fielder’s decline in a radio interview in which he exposed to the world that Fielder was going through personal problems.
Instead of tipping off the planet to Prince’s pending divorce, he could have just gone the John Lowe route and blarghed about Fielder’s impressive RBI total — a number that is totally skewed based on Fielder’s obscene amount of opportunities to knock runs home in the first place. I hate that I have to LEARN ya something today, but take a look at this Fangraphs.com piece which detailed approximately how many RBI Fielder would have on every team in baseball.
Basically, Fielder has 15% more RBI than he should based on ALL OF HIS OTHER STATS because he won the “Miguel Cabrera Lottery” and gets to bat behind a fucking monster every game.
I’d love for Elias Sports Bureau to look into the record for knocking in runs by either grounding into a fielder’s choice or hitting a sacrifice fly. Fielder has to be on some sort of record pace for that.
Why does this bother me so much? It’s because journalists are supposed to dig deeper and actually educate their readership. Instead, people like John Lowe are successfully keeping their followers ignorant and uninformed.
And if Lowe’s line of thinking isn’t bad enough, the fact that the Tigers manager shares the same beliefs is even more disconcerting. Here is a quote from Jim Leyland on the subject of Fielder’s offensive contributions this season:
“He’s a great hitter, a run producer, and at the end of the year they’re going to be there again like they have been his entire career,” Jim Leyland said.
What a goddamn simpleton we have for a manager in this town. Although, this shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers that Leyland chose Chris Tillman over Hideki Kurodo for the All-Star Game based solely on PITCHER WINS!!!!
And it isn’t like Leyland’s horrible anti-science thought process takes place in a vacuum. Nope, there are everyday consequences to this line of thinking.
On Saturday night, Leyland gave Austin Jackson the bunt sign in the bottom of the eighth inning in an attempt to move Jose Iglesias from first to second. With Don Kelly on-deck.
[I know that Leyland had been tossed from the game, but if you don’t think he was still calling the shots from his office, you probably also believe in the Easter Bunny. And Jesus Christ.]
Now, Dong is having a career year. And yet, he is still batting .244.
So let’s just say Jackson successfully laid down a bunt in that situation (which he didn’t). Now, Iglesias is at second base with one out with a 76 percent chance that Kelly isn’t going to knock him in.
Which means even the imbecile Ned Yost would have walked Cabrera to get to Prince. The same Miguel Cabrera who, as I type this, has hit home runs on the last two pitches he has seen.
Of course, Leyland doesn’t have any problem with all of this because, ya know, you can put it in the book at the end of the season: Prince is a run producer. [Spit chicken, chew chicken, repeat.]
And speaking of Yost, the Royals manager one-upped Leyland in the ninth inning when the manager asked Jamey Carroll to sacrifice Salvador Perez over to second. Yes, Yost wanted the slow-footed catcher at second so Emilio Bonifacio and Chris Getz could attempt to knock him in.
The pair have identical OPS’s of .590. Ned Yost actually gave up a precious out — you only get 27 of those in a regulation game, mind you — so that two atrocious hitters (batting .220 and .229 respectively) could attempt to knock in an anchor standing at second base.
I mean, in what year will baseball writers and managers catch up with statistical probability?
It has been 34 years since the M.I.T. blackjack team took down the city of LAS VEGAS, and yet a franchise with a team salary of $150 million is still managed by a man who could not pass a ninth-grade Algebra course.
But who the fuck is going to bring up ANY OF THIS? Definitely not the Free Press baseball writer, who is complicit in keeping all of you in the dark.