Time is sometimes spent in this space criticizing the work of those in the mainstream media, be it Kevin Kernan, John Harper or Marty Noble. Not as much time is spent praising strong work. Ken Davidoff is a national baseball writer at Newsday and is one of the few in the mainstream who embraces sabermetrics. For him, and most others who are saber-inclined, it's less about breaking the game down into spreadsheets and more about utilizing all the information available to synthesize an informed opinion. In this vein, two pieces by Davidoff were noteworthy this week. The first was a ranking of free agents using the beloved WAR, linked here. The WAR concept is one that is tough to convey in print, but I think this summed it up nicely:
It's a metric devised by respected statistical analyst Tom Tango that calculates how many victories each player produced relative to the "replacement-level player" at his position.
The second piece was Davidoff's explanation of his NL Cy Young ballot, on which he voted for Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, in that order. It's hard to quibble with the selections, especially when these are some of the rationales behind the vote (hopefully the Dolans won't sue me for pasting content from behind Newsday.com's pay wall):
For starters (pun intended), I didn't even bother looking at won-loss records this year. What's the point? They only cloud your judgment. If you're looking for a guy who pitches deep into the game to get decisions, that's what innings pitched is for.
Lincecum threw 225 1/3 innings, third most in the NL, and he led the senior circuit with 261 strikeouts. His 2.34 FIP paced the NL (by a healthy .43 runs), as did his 8.2 Wins Above Replacement.
A strong ballot, supported by objective evidence. It seems like a simple concept but this represents progress for the BBWAA. The mainstream could use some more all-around great journalists like Davidoff.