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The Fallacy of the Bases Fallacy


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I was just introduced to the Bases Fallacy, and it took me all of five seconds to say, out loud in a room all by myself, "This is bullshit."

The central concept of the "Bases Fallacy" is that certain statistics (let's use Tom Boswell's "Total Average" as an example) are fallacious because (and I'll quote directly from baseballreference.com) -

"Unfortunately, players are not trying to accumulate bases. The point of baseball is to score runs, not gather bases."

which, itself, is a fallacy:

If you read the Bases Fallacy link, it implies that "Total Average" assumes "bases" is the atomic unit of baseball. (A walk is as good as a hit.)

But using that same logic, the "Bases Fallacy" assumes "runs" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter how many hits you get if you don't score.)

Yet, I can walk this forward multiple levels. I hereby coin:

The "Runs Fallacy," which assumes "games won" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter if you win 4-3, or 19-0). 

The "Games Won Fallacy," which assumes "playoff appearances" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter if you win games if you don't make the postseason.)

It's obvious that you could continue with a "Playoff Appearances Fallacy," and then go even further with a "Pennant Fallacy," which assumes "World Series Titles" is the atomic unit of baseball. (Refer to the "Curse of the Bambino.")

If you're going to use the term "fallacy," then you need to think about "Reductio ad Absurdum." At some point, my ever-larger atomic units will turn into, not Reductio ad Absurdum, but "Expandio ad Absurdum."

Needless to say, this can apply to nearly any sport, and probably most other aspects of life.

So what is the atomic unit of baseball? I'm thinking "Games Won," and not "Runs Scored." Does it really matter if your team is down 15-0, and a player hits a solo home run? 

Or perhaps, "Duration of Happiness." When an event occurs, whether it's a ball, strike, walk, hit, run, win, or World Series Championship, how long does your joy last? There can also be PlayDoH (Player-Adjusted Duration of Happiness (e.g., Aaron 715 vis-a-vis Bonds 756)), which actually rhymes with Plato, but I'm not going there.

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18 hours ago, MC Horoscope said:

Right. The point of Major League baseball is not to score runs but wins, or actually World Series championships. Some years the team with the best record of most wins does not become the World Champion.

Most years the team with the best record doesn't win the WS.  I'd have to look it up again, but I think in the Wild Card era fewer than 6 teams with the best regular season record have won the WS.  And I think it's only 50/50 that they make it out of the Division Series!  Playoff baseball is a complete crap shoot.

Don, I think the primary argument against the bases fallacy is that a walk is sometimes not as good as a hit, but the converse is almost never true (I'd have to think about that, but I think that is the case if you count actual hits and not fielder's choice, etc.).  I think a walk with a man on second statistically reduces the chance that the man on second will score if there is 1 out (sets up the double play).  I routine single to the outfield in the same at bat has a good chance of scoring the run.

Of course Sabermetrics has to start somewhere.

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