FanPost

The Trouble With Sports Fans

As perhaps a few of you fellow Twins fans have discovered, Sports Illustrated recently changed how they create their power rankings. Earlier in the year, SI decided to a step out on limb and base their ranking off of Fan Graphs WAR. Dave Cameron wrote the small bits that always accompany the teams’ icons. Last week, SI, changed back to the standard power ranking format, in the face of criticism from readers. 151660531_extra_large_medium

via cdn2.sbnation.com(Photo by Marilyn Indahl/Getty Images)

I love SI. Have for a long time. I read their site for Peter King, Paul Zimmerman, and Joe Posnanski. Of those three, only King is still there. Posnanski left to do a separate project, which I haven’t heard much about since. Zimmerman had a stroke, which he is still trying to come back from (perhaps out of affection, SI still lists him among their writers.) Ever since Posanski left, I only went to Sports Illistrated to read their football coverage. That was, until Dave Cameron and the folks from Fangraphs became involved.

They say if you want to lose faith in humanity, read the comments on a YouTube video. Reading these power rankings, you could see that same venom directed towards Sports Illustrated, Fan Graphs, Dave Cameron, and the entire idea of advanced analysis of baseball. SI tried something bold. Unfortunately, it happened to be during a year where the Baltimore Orioles have a share of the AL east lead.

They managed to do it despite having allowed more runs than they’ve scored. Boston and Seattle have better run differentials, and they are both more than 15 games out of first place. As a result, the WAR backed rankings have pretty much had Baltimore in the lower half for most of the year. And many people weren’t happy about it.

So SI caved, and now has Power Rankings that look very similar to espn and other websites, which is to say they look like the standings with words next to them. Being a part of a community like Twinkie Town, that uses WAR and FIP and other things like them, was what got me to understand and like this style of statistical analysis, and when SI seemed to take to it as well, I took it as a sign that baseball fans as a whole were starting to "get" it. But apparently not.

Sabremetrics seems to conjure up strong feelings in fans either one way or another. Both sides seem to get pretty agitated, the poster boys for this age-long struggle being Joe Morgan and the people who ran FJM. Joe would say something silly, and then they would ridicule him for it. SI’s power rankings had two teams, Boston and Baltimore, basically in reverse order. And everyone ridiculed them for it. Morgan no longer works for espn. SI no longer uses statistics based power rankings. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

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