Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Points Per Game and RBI Are Cousins

We're not the most mathematically astute folks over here at THHB, we leave that to fine folks like John Hollinger, Bret LaGree, and the like.

But we couldn't help but chuckle, as did our fellow Bird Watchers, when Joe Johnson won Player of the Week in the Eastern Conference in the NBA.

Well noted over at Hoopinion is that perhaps it would have been better that the to-the-basket revival that Josh Smith deployed was rewarded than Joe's voluminous efforts and anyone who saw the Nuggets game would likely agree.

But it's not surprising that there are few that look so deep as to uncover the perhaps ultimately worthy folks for such awards--after all, it's just a Player of the Week, it's not like it's an end of the year award or anything.

Except that even in those prestigious ceremonies often big counting stats that get recognized. Points Per Game has long been the industry standard for looking for the easiest way to identify top players. All-Stars, All-Conference, you name it---only the NBA draft has become safe haven for those who offer more than just a hefty number in the PPG column.

It's not constrained to basketball, either--Wins and RBI have long determined Cy Young and MVP voting, often leaving the more deserving candidates without the hardware and accolades. Wins, RBI, PPG, and their brethren are valuable when understood in context, and it takes effort to sort that kind of stuff out.

We remember when Stan Kasten tried to get us excited over the signing of Rico Brogna. "He had 100 RBI two years in a row!" Kasten exclaimed. We had to remind him that Brogna was getting a lot of opportunities to drive in those runs, given the presence of Scott Rolen hitting in front of him, and perhaps a hitter with a better that sub-800 OPS might have driven in 125 runs where Brogna barely broke 100 batting cleanup those years..

The fact that Brogna bombed with the Braves that season wasn't proof that we were right to be cautious, it was that we looked deeper to determine actual value and not settled for the comfort of a fat number without context. It was because of such investigation that we were left underwhelmed by the signing and unsurprised about the eventual result. (Ooooh---Aren't we smart?! Wait, don't answer that.)

There is no doubt that Johnson has been as solid as he's ever been for the Hawks, and there will be weeks where he will earn his place to be considered for Player of the Week---but in this case we think that looking deeper, even on his own team, might have yielded a more worthy result.

So there.


CoCo said...

You are so right. Joe wasn't even the player of the week on his own team. I think this has more to do with the assumption that if the Hawks did well it was obviously because of Joe. Truth be told Jamal Crawford outplayed him last week, but whatever.

Jesse said...

CoCo, Joe Johnson just called and said that 'we' need to stop being selfish and learn to share our awards with 'us'.

CoCo said...

@ Jesse Hahaha.

Ron E. said...

You're probably right that Josh deserved it over Joe, but let's not overlook the fact that people are actually paying enough attention/respect to the Hawks that one of their players actually won player of the week.

Jason Walker said...

Ron, you're right--I'm excited that we could make the case for multiple players for that honor coming off a road trip.