Love the concept, don't love the execution. Right now, everything plays off the number 100. If you have a 100 OPS-plus, you're average. From there, your OPS-plus increases by two points for every percentage point you're better than everyone else that season. When Albert Pujols led the National League in 2009 with a 188 OPS-plus, that meant he was 44 percent better than average (100 + 88 / 2) before correcting for park factors. That's already too complicated for someone like my father. He's out right there. If your stat is complicated AND hard to relate to, that's a deadly combo.
What he's saying is that a 188 OPS+ does not mean that Pujols was 88% better than league average. It means he is 44% better than league average. Simmons implies that the statistic would be more easily understood if it matched the interpretation, that is, Pujols should have an OPS+ of 144. I've heard that critique before and I absolutely agree with it.
Simmons also discusses UZR, WAR and other stats which are gaining steam on the Internet. This was a pretty big step for a writer who previously expressed his frustration with sabermetrics:
See, I stopped writing about baseball these past two years when the sabermetrics movement became too complicated for my liking. Did I respect the work of Baseball Prospectus, Bill James, Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, Jonah Keri and everyone else in that community? Of course. I just hated the finality of it, the concept that numbers could trump anything I was watching with my own two eyes. If numbers always prevailed, what was the point of watching baseball or having arguments about it? I longed for the old days when you could say things like, "I hate watching J.D. Drew -- when is that contract going to end?" and there wasn't some dude lurking behind me with Drew's stellar OPS, VORP and WAR numbers saying, "Well, actually ... "
His column today was great news to someone who spends a lot of time trying to explain advanced statistics to fans who are new to sabermetrics. This should help to advance the field quite a bit. And selfishly, it could expand the target audience for Beyond Batting Average.