During the White Sox’s 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday, play-by-play announcer Hawk Harrelson took it upon himself to rip sabermetrics. That evil, newfangled thing that is ruining the game of baseball. The audio is preserved by MLB Network's MLB Now and the subject of a debate between Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds...
“You know, sabermetrics in my opinion, in the last decade, the last ten years, has been the most overrated thing to come into baseball. And it’s got a lot of people fired because it didn’t work.”
Hawk isn't down for complicated things like numbers and statistics (he also doesn't care to mention an actual example of someone losing their job because of them). Instead, he says simply, “Give me some guys who want to win a baseball game.”
That’s all well and good, but what professional baseball player DOESN’T want to win a game? If Robin Ventura and Rick Hahn were to embrace sabermetrics would it mean they would suddenly not want to win games? Does Hawk Harrelson want a roster of 25 David Ecksteins?
Kenny's one of the foremost advocates of advanced statistics, and didn't take kindly to Harrelson’s comments. He noted, “Why would he feel the need to attack the advances in knowledge in baseball?”
(So if you're scoring at home. Advances in knowledge: BAD. Guys who want to win harder than the other guys: GOOD.)
Kenny goes on to talk about the success the Tampa Bay Rays have had using sabermetrics, in addition to the Oakland A's (who he mentions is 29th in payroll, out of 30 teams, yet went to the playoffs last season) and Boston Red Sox. Three teams in the same league as the White Sox who have embraced sabermetrics and won. Then again, the White Sox DID win a World Series in 2005 using, well, whatever it is that Ozzie Guillen used.
For what it’s worth, the White Sox are now 4-5 after getting swept in D.C. (Obviously because Adam Dunn and his -.2 WAR was in left field.)
I am not at all an advocate of Sabermetrics but I don't see how Harrelson has any credibility whatsoever considering his ill fated tenure as the White Sox GM. He is, afterall, the genius responsible for firing Tony LaRussa. Perhaps he should be more open minded when it comes to putting a team together and look for the good in all ideas.
Buck Showalter has also appeared on the show and had crapped all over advanced statistics, so its just not Hawk.