Lighten up, Wainwright

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher rails against FanGraphs and its stat powers

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Adam Wainwright struggles with projections.
Adam Wainwright struggles with projections.
Image: Getty Images

I understand that every team in every sport is desperate to make the “only the guys in this room believed in us” the rallying cry of their team. It’s easier to think you’re the underdog, and when you’re a professional athlete you need anything and everything to drive through an interminable season. Especially in baseball where you have to find motivation every day for six months.

So here’s Adam Wainwright according to St. Louis Cardinal beatwriter Zachary Silver:

“FanGraphs had us at like a negative 400 percent chance to make the playoffs, and we just proved everyone wrong. We’re going to try to and keep doing that.”


Here’s the thing: FanGraphs doesn’t really “say” anything. I mean they do, they have a bevy of talented writers interpreting their numbers. But when people outside of FanGraphs talk about the site, they’re not talking about that. They mean the projections and odds and such. Which isn’t FanGraphs “saying” anything. It’s just a formula, going on previous records and models. It’s not an opinion. It’s like saying the stock market is talking to you about comic books.

By the way, here’s FanGraphs’ delightful response:


Wainwright can say that he used FanGraphs as motivation, but if the site was really “saying” anything, it was that it would take something unlikely for the Cardinals to make the playoffs. Like, oh I don’t know, not losing a game for three weeks (they won their 17th-straight game last night) to cement themselves as the second-best, second-place team in the National League, where less than half the teams are even really trying. And that’s a pretty unlikely thing the Cards just did, because it hasn’t happened in nearly 100 years.

So in a way, whether Wainwright likes it or not, the Cardinals ended up proving FanGraphs playoff odds right. It only solidifies their calculations. Nice job.