I try to avoid linking to things I write other places, because I don’t want to become a self-promoter and I figure most of you probably know how to find my stuff at FanGraphs, WSJ, or ESPN anyway. But, I’m making an exception today, because my afternoon post over at FG is the kind of thing that I would have written here a few years ago, and I think it has quite a bit of relevance to the 2010 Mariners season. The post is entitled Accepting Randomness. Here’s the first few paragraphs, and you can read the rest over there.
Most of the conversations about the Dan Haren trade boil down to how a person feels about pitcher evaluation. There are clearly still a lot of people that simply believe that whatever happens is the pitcher’s responsibility, so if he gives up a bunch of hits and some home runs, he’s doing something wrong and that should be held against him. High BABIP or HR/FB rates are evidence of throwing too many hittable pitches, or that his stuff has deteriorated, or that his command isn’t as good as it was, or some other explanation that we haven’t yet figured out. But, whatever it is, it’s definitely something, and it’s definitely real.
These opinions are generally held because of the outright refusal to accept randomness. The idea that something could happen repeatedly, without cause, is very hard to for a lot of people to swallow. But it’s true, and it’s a very important concept to buy into when trying to project the future performance of baseball players. Random happens.