Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is VORP dead?

I've said a few times that one of the things I would love from folks who hate VORP is an honest critique of it from a scientific and analytic perspective. Naturally, those who hate VORP have not done this, because to do so would legitimize the real thing that they hate: the use of science to describe something that they believe transcends such vulgar quantifications. This is nonsense, and we don't need to get into it again.

Of course, one of the hallmarks of science is that the old is always being discarded in favor of the new. Indeed, VORP has come under some criticism recently, but not the banal criticism you've come to expect from the neanderthal luddites that have a stranglehold on print, radio, and television. Rather, it's been the subject of intelligent criticism from people who understand not just how VORP works, but how science works.

The bottom line is that VORP is flawed. You can read a good rundown of its flaws here. Essentially, VORP incorrectly calculates positional adjustments and underestimates the impact of walks (ironically, it has been noted) and doubles. These are fixable problems, of course, and it may be that VORP will be adjusted in the future to account for them. Baseball Prospectus has already started to overhaul WARP to adjust for some of its deficiencies.

In any case, using VORP is still miles better than falling back on the classical trifecta of batting average, home runs, and RsBI (for you, Cous). However, just because it was quick to arrive on the analytical scene or because it's promoted by the biggest name in sabermetrics doesn't mean that deserves to stick around.

I haven't been hitting the stats too hard recently on this site. If and when I get back to it, don't be surprised to see VORP supplanted by a statistic with a better run estimator and positional adjustments. There's no reason to become attached to a particular statistic when we have the tools to progress past it.

1 comment:

D.Cous. said...

My thanks to you. I can't hear or read someone saying "RBIs" without thinking the phrase "Run Batted Ins," which is nonsense.