Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No, You Don't

I won't link you to the article which is the basis for this article, but I will give you a brief summary:
A hockey writer and self proclaimed pot stirrer, decided to take his turn writing about baseball - after all, hockey season is just around the corner and he wouldn't want his readers to forget he exists. Short story even shorter, the writer asks if Jose Bautista is juiced.

Well, that's unfair. He never directly asked the question, simply alluded to the possibility of bringing up said question.
There is so much to cover here I'm having a difficult time figuring out where to start.

First, into the allegation. I'm not going to deny nor confirm that Bautista is juiced. All we can go on is that he hasn't failed a test, so as far as the public knows, Bautista is clean. Is there a chance he is doing something that isn't being detected? Sure. But asking a question to an answer we already have isn't really journalism, is it? That is, over a decade ago the question was asked if players were using something to aid their performance. The question was answered and as such baseball was slagged with this imaginary line of a time when players began using "something to aid their performance".

Which leads to the second point. Cox writes,
For the following unpopular question, blame Major League baseball and all the nonsense it has spewed over the past decade.

Don't blame me.
No, I'm going to blame you. I'm going to blame you for a lack of journalistic integrity. I'm going to blame you for being a lazy journalist. I'm going to blame you for simply being you, a "pot stirrer".

I wouldn't expect Cox to know of a statistic such as isolated power (ISO), which gives a legitimate understanding of a player's power. Similarly, I wouldn't expect Cox to know about Park Factors. However, if one is going to "ask a question", shouldn't they at least know what they are talking about.

Let's do the hard work for Cox.

Yes, Bautista's ISO increased. In fact, it has doubled. Okay, case closed. Evidence in the bag. No no, Cox, wait a minute, maybe there is more.

Park Factors. These are...Well let's have ESPN explain them.
Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher. Teams with home games in multiple stadiums list aggregate Park Factors.
In other words, a park factor can tell us if a park helps or hurts a hitter. Pretty simple. I'm sure even a hockey writer could figure this out.

In 2010 the SkyDome is playing to a park factor of 1.369 for home runs. In other words, the SkyDome is increasing home runs by 37% over the average ballpark.

PNC Park has a park factor of 0.757 for home runs, or it decreases home runs by 24% over the average ballpark.

That's a fairly large difference. One that hasn't existed since the opening of PNC, but on average, SkyDome has favored hitters and PNC has deflated them.

Possibly we have the beginning of an explanation, something to look further into before proclaiming Bautista a 'roid user.

Admittedly, I don't feel like going all the way into it, but briefly we can see that Bautista's career at SkyDome has produced a .312 ISO (close to his current season rate) with his PNC ISO sitting at .153 (close to his previous career average).

This doesn't merely open and close the case that Bautista's improvements have been a result of playing half of his games at the SkyDome. In fact, Bautista has provided a higher then career average ISO on the road this year.

So yes, Cox, you are right to ask a question. You are wrong, however to ask your current question. What would should be doing, as a journalist with some sort of integrity is asking, "what is up with Bautista" and then digging deep. Don't take the easy way out and slap him with the steroid tag. Do some research. Make a real story. Give some information that people can use and learn from.

What Cox did isn't baseball writing. It isn't journalism. It's the same garbage we see on FOXNews. It's a reporter with a bias directing his bias onto a subject with which he has little information. It's like asking a child who will win the World Series in spring, of course the child will answer that his/her favorite team will win.

But, at least it started a conversation and provides us with a jumping off point. That is, "Is Damion Cox a worthless writer?"

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