Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Simpsons Throw Alot Of Great Pitches In The "MoneyBart" Episode, But Its Not A Perfect Game

Spoiler Alert!

It was on about a week and a half ago, so most fans have seen it or heard about it. The episode was hysterical and I am not a Simpsons fan. Maybe it was too funny. The funny bits and one-liners came pretty fast. Bill James and Mike Scioscia are in it.

The premise is that Lisa takes over managing Bart's little league team. She then learns all she can about sabermetrics and decides to teach the players all she can about it. All team strategy and decisions from then on are made according to sabermetrics.

The team starts to climb out of the cellar and closes in on first place. But in a crucial game, Bart hits a home run (a grand slam, I think) to win it for the Isotots. But Lisa had ordered all the players to take pitches to wait for walks (because she learned how important OBP was). So she kicks Bart off the team.

But I think this ignores the fact that sabermetricians like power hitting (not as much as OBP, but we extol the virtues of SLG, too). I don't think there was anything in the episode up to that point that had said how many HRs he hit. Having him get kicked off the team paints a pretty black and white picture, with statsy tactics (taking pitches) only mattering while old-fashioned skills (like power) don't matter at all. That is not what sabermetrics says. In fact, all the great research has shown that HRs are the most valuable event (and people say we have not made a real contribution).

The other thing that was interesting that one of the books showed a page with a formula for OBP. When the video was paused, that page also showed a graph or chart that had the heading "OPS vs. RISP." I could see if it had been OPS vs. lefties or righties. Or even OPS with RISP. But that made no sense. Maybe they were just trying to see if geeks like me would catch it.


Graham Womack said...

Hi Cyril,

I'm a big fan of early seasons of "The Simpsons" and haven't watched many episodes from the past decade. It was nice to have an excuse to watch one.

I didn't think the episode was perfect either (where was Comic Book Guy at the SABR meeting? if it was held at Moe's, why didn't Homer figure in?) but all in all, pretty entertaining, definitely worth 22 minutes of my time.

Cyril Morong said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It certainly wasn't the "worst episode ever." Maybe Homer just wasn't in the starting lineup that day. But I agree it was worth the time. I think the graph was actually "OBP vs. RISP."