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The Cyclicality of Advanced Statistics: A Narrative Featuring Matt Holliday & Mike Shannon

Prehistoric Times

As many of you know, Neanderthals created baseball millions of years ago on the gigantic landmass known as Pangaea (or Middle Earth, historians really never have come to a consensus).

Using an oblong rock as the ball and the tusk of a baby woolly mammoth as the bat, the object was to hit the ball back and forth for as long as possible before dying of dysentery.

Prehistoric Matt Holliday, being impervious to all forms of disease, naturally excelled at this game.

It is said that modern statistics as we know it began when Matt hit a rock so far that it landed on the head of a baby saber-toothed tiger thousands of yards away, killing it instantly. All of the players were forced to literally "run home" in fear of being devoured by the distraught mother tiger.

Prehistoric Mike Shannon, the foremost authority on all things scholarly, marveled at Matt's ability saying, "Matt Holliday hit ball hard. Matt Holliday gooood".

Late 1800's

Over the course of the next few million years, baseball became infinitely more refined.

Abner "a double a day keeps the doctor away" fashioned a fancy set of rules for this popular game, and creativity in describing the game was at an all-time high.

As the game became more refined so did the statistically analysis of its players. At the forefront of this was late 1800's Matt Holliday, who, after eating a bowl of rusty nails for breakfast, continued his epic and iron-ic domination of the game.

Matt seemed to excel at what we today would call a "line drive", or ever so eloquently put by late 1800's Mike Shannon: "That there Holliday feller sure does seem to hit a lot of those balls that don't go high in the air, but don't hit the ground soon neither".

Early 1900's

While the Late 1800's were known for the refinement of the rules of the game, the early 1900's are fondly remembered for the myriad of useful statistics popularized in the time.

None more so popular was the Run Batted In, famous solely because pronouncing it makes you sound like a frog.

Unfortunately this stat poorly predicted the future value of players like early 1900's Brandon Phillips, who responded to the fame by constantly sharing his opinion using Morse code (or however athletes expressed their opinions before Twitter, historians again currently lack a consensus).

Caught in the middle of this misinformation charade was early 1900's Matt Holliday.

Matt (who when asked by a reporter about the Great Depression, showed the reporter his bicep and said "Depress This!"), a solid RBI contributor but a far better overall hitter, got lost in the shuffle as the perpetually uninformed media declared Brandon Phillips the best hitter of all time (Babe who?).

Early 1900's Mike Shannon, as only the great announcers could, took a pause from pounding down a cold one and said, "I used to think Matt Holliday was a really good hitter, but now I think he's only a pretty good hitter."

Late 1900's

Boy did the creation of the computer expedite the age of advanced statistics. With the ability to record and subsequently analyze every single aspect of the game, baseball totally got way cooler.

The most important love child to come out of the computer - baseball relationship was by far BABIP and regression to the mean.

Now we had a way to predict the future!

If a batter's BABIP was super high, we could expect his batting average to go down in the future, because it was stats!

Late 1900's Matt Holliday, famous then for his Dr. Phil mustache and mullet only Chuck Norris could best, was at his lowest point. Matt had rocked a BABIP of over .350, which was sure to go down in the future (because stats!).

Soon the low BABIP likes of Ronnie Belliard and Jose Oquendo had eclipsed Matt as pure hitters in the cult of Bill James.

Mike Shannon luckily was too drunk to remember any of this, and expressed his thoughts: "I like Matt, he looks like a Budweiser kinda man hehehe."

Circa 2014

Luckily for Matt the BABIP craze of the late 20th century ended.

Ultimately statisticians examined BABIP even further to see what makes it tick. Much to everyone's surprise, BABIP was not the be-all-end-all statistic to determining future performance. Apparently, there was some skill to it!

Batters like Matt Holliday who hit many of the line drives and hard ground balls were proven to have higher overall BABIP's then other hitters. Statistics had removed its past bias to create a more accurate model of analysis, huzzah!

Brandon Phillips, relegated back to "team disruptor and twitter aficionado" role, spent the next fifteen years unnecessarily hot-dogging routine ground balls in the Italian league.

Having spent the last few years crafting his F.O.U.S's (Forearms of Unusual Size), Matt Holliday roared back into the ranks of elite hitters. The day was saved!

Mike Shannon, knocked unconscious from a headlock by Nick Stavinoha's thighs, was unable to comment on Matt's return to prominence.

Circa 2030

Statistical analysis reaches its undeniable peak.

Models now accurately predict games before they even happen.

Thousands of bookies nationwide are forced to open up cupcake stands to supplement their failing practices.

Attendance reaches a 60 year low as the excitement surrounding the game collapses (surprising the Cubs' attendance figures remain constant).

With no new information to process, traffic on Fangraphs plummets to zero, forcing them to shut down.

The ageless Matt Holliday continues to put up LD rates of 25+%, but everybody already knows that.

One hundred and seventeen year old Bill James, desperate for some new content, begins to look at what makes consistent RBI producers tick...

After his body fails him for the last time, Mike Shannon's head is preserved in a clear jar of smooth Busch Light. Radio ratings improve.

Circa 2050

Disaster strikes!

In search of an erectile dysfunction solution dissolvable in the water supply, scientists accidentally release a terrible poison.

Millions perish.

Politicians, looking for a scapegoat, blindly blame information for this tragedy.

Massive book-burnings ensue.

The government emits a computer virus destroying all data stored on any computer in the last 60 years.

All baseball analysis is lost, with the exception of Bill James latest article.

The article praises those who gets lots of RBI's for their "spunk" and "stick-to-it-tiveness".

This article becomes baseball law.

Matt Holliday's Zeus-like virility naturally immunizes him from the poison.

Geriatric Brandon Phillips is elected into the Hall of Fame, and debates rage for years to anoint him the best of all time.

Matt Holliday, still peppering cowhides all over the field, is buried to the number seven spot in the Cardinals order.

Seeing the ascension of Brandon Phillips, the head of Mike Shannon pontificates, "I wonder what happened to Matt Holliday? I used to think he was so good..."

Early 2100's

Society, crippled by the E-D virus, begins to break down.

Literacy rates fall to their lowest rates in over a thousand years.

The "RBI doctrine" has either been entirely forgotten or its followers killed by the virus.

Baseball has simplified significantly over the last fifty years to accommodate the suddenly moronic population.

The concept of ERA and OPS have long been eliminated (runs are hard enough to keep track of these days).

With most talented hitters dead from the virus, Matt Holliday once again ascends to the ranks of the elite.

Mike Shannon's head, one of the few remaining scholars from the previous century, noted, "Man, that Holliday guy sure likes to hit the ball not on the ground, but not high in the air either."

Circa 2200

Nuclear war destroys what remains of Earth.

The survivors pass the time until the radiation kills them by throwing odd pieces of rubble at one another, trying to hit them with spare pipes.

Matt Holliday's thick skin immunizes him from the radiation, and he emerges as one of the best pipe-rubble players.

The radiation has turned the beer in Mike Shannon's jar into Pabst Blue Ribbon.

As the wretched substance corrupts what remains of Mike Shannon's brain cells, he opines "Matt Holliday hit ball hard. Matt Holliday gooood."

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