Here are some highlights from the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference Player Panel with Brandon McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Javier Lopez of the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, March 7 at the ASU Cronkite School in Phoenix, Arizona. The panel was moderated by Steve Berthiaume of Fox Sports Arizona:
Video: Watch the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference Player Panel (YouTube)
Audio: Click here to listen to the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference Player Panel (53:20; 48.8 MB)
ON STATS IN THE CLUBHOUSE
- McCarthy: “If it’s not cut-and-dried, and here’s the answer, it’s hard … to take that out into a team atmosphere. We know that on-base percentage is a better measure of a hitter than batting average, but you still talk with players and try explain that concept to them, and they still think it’s batting average. So it’s especially hard to tell someone this is why this defender isn’t as good because these numbers are saying so. It’s very hard to describe and break down. So until those numbers are … more easily explained, more practical, something you could show somebody, it’s pretty hard to take this discussion much further than some kind of a cute side thing.”
ON THE EFFECT OF CHARACTER IN THE CLUBHOUSE
- Lopez: “You’re spending 180-plus days with guys — it’s a family whether you want to believe it or not. You need some guys who can be sounding boards for everyone in the locker room and be able to find a common ground. In the playoffs in particular, with Hunter (Pence), that’s exactly what happened (with us.) … You can sense the tension in the room and then Hunter steps up and does his Ray Lewis impression. A lot of passion, a lot of fire involved there, but it lets guys take a deep breath and relax.” You don’t have a measuring stick for that, but that’s what happened. … It loosens the locker room. Those little things … it does matter, when you’re spending eight months together.”
ON USING ADVANCED PITCHING STATS
- McCarthy: “When someone asks me how someone did last year, I will look straight at FIP, and I look at their WHIP as a quick rounder. Then I look at ERA; I’ll be 80 and still look at it because it’s just trained into me. I’ve stopped looking at wins — I’ve gotten really good at that! And then strikeouts to walks. So I try and get a quick overview that way. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten yet.”
ON WHAT STATS ARE USED IN ARBITRATION CASES
- McCarthy: “It’s still wins and ERA. It’s such a weird little system, because you know the front offices know what we’re all talking about (analytics), and what’s been written. In some cases, they’re the pioneers of it. We know it, because the agents have to look into it and as players, anything you that tells you you’re better than somebody else you want to know about it. Then everyone gets in a room or on a phone call and acts like they don’t know what they know, and you’re talking about stuff that doesn’t exist, and that determines your (contract) for the next year. It’s a weird little system that I think needs to improve because it’s very much left behind.”
ON THE TROUT-CABRERA MVP DEBATE
- Lopez: “When you’re looking at that debate, I think a lot of it speaks to history. You don’t see the Triple Crown often. Either way, you’re going to pay to watch either of those guys play. As a fan of the game, I would have been happy with either one. I think any time there’s something up for discussion, I think that’s a great thing for the game. … It’s great to see all different sides. As players, we’re so narrow-minded, we’re just focused on wins and losses, trying to make it to the postseason. I’ll speak to myself on that. When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s entertaining.”
For more coverage of the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.
Originally published: March 4, 2013. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.