Neyer: Do seamheads underestimate the value of good coaching?

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on November 20, 2012:

I could be wrong, but I believe that left-hander C.J. Nitkowski was the first big-time baseball player to take the Internet seriously, so many of us have long been fond of him. And it was exciting to discover that he’s written a guest piece for Baseball Prospectus on the value of good coaching.

In all honesty, though, I found the piece disappointing.


I’m not saying that no “sabermetric scribe” has ever expressed doubt about the usefulness of coaches. I know I’ve done exactly that. But you know, expressing doubt is sort of our job. You start with the doubt, and then you hope to find some truth along the way. For my part, I’ve actually been on record for a number of years now, arguing that pitching coaches like Johnny Sain and Dave Duncan deserve serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.

Why? Because to the degree that we’re able to measure their value, it’s pretty impressive. And I’m not alone in this. But are coaches paid huge amounts of money? No. Has anyone associated with the Hall of Fame — which is to say, the Baseball Establishment, including players, executives, and veteran writers — seriously considered opening the doors of the Hall to coaches? No, they have not.

Which is to suggest that this sabermetric scribe — and again, I’m hardly alone — is actually more impressed with the value of good coaches than almost anyone else. Which isn’t to suggest that every sabermetric scribe believes that Johnny Sain belongs in the Hall of Fame. But when Nitkowski throws around accusations like this without actually citing specific writers or writings, the word that comes to mind is “straw man”. Idiots on message boards don’t count; to build a whole piece on the ignorance of sabermetric scribes, it’s best to actually name an offender or three.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 21, 2012. Last Updated: November 21, 2012.