Hawk Talks Sabermetrics on MLB Network

A hot topic not only in Chicago, but in national media has been White Sox announcer Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson's criticism of sabermetrics.

Thursday, MLB Network helped us add some riveting banter to the discussion.

Hawk Harrelson made a guest appearance on MLB Network’s “MLB Now”: a show that’s based around debating the old and new school concepts in the game.

The biggest trend in the MLB today from an analytical standpoint is the concept of sabermetrics, which takes statistical evaluations to a whole new level when it comes to calculating a player’s value.

Well, our buddy Hawk Harrelson doesn’t like the concept all too much, and he ranted against it during a broadcast in Washington a few weeks back. MLB Network heard Hawk’s opinions, and Brian Kenny, a co-host of “MLB Now” representing the “new school,” took his turn to respond to Hawk a few days later on the show.

The result: Hawk coming on air on Thursday afternoon for an entertaining debate with Kenny, with Harold Reynolds playing somewhat of a moderator.

Throughout the discussion, Hawk cited sabermetrics as a flawed concept due to its absence of measuring what he called “TWTW”: The Will to Win. According to Hawk, these new metrics cannot measure a player’s leadership, willingness to do the dirty work on the field (he cited a second baseman taking a hit on a double-play as an example), or one’s ability to execute in big situations.

In fact, Hawk said he knew a manager who got fired because he had to “manage a game he didn’t know,” and had to call his general manager to see what to do in certain situations.

The debate was very entertaining, as Kenny and Hawk were both very set in their ways and clearly would not waiver on the issue. It also was good because it was respectful, as while both men were opinionated and passionate about their stances, neither had any ill-will toward the other.

Who is right? I guess we will have to wait and see a few years to see exactly how many sabermetrics-based teams get to the top. However, it’s something that has certainly arrived on the scene, and these new statistical categories will undoubtedly continue growing.

If you missed the debate, you can see the segment here