To start things off, I’d like to give a thanks to McC user beanpj for the heads up in this thread about ESPN’s current frontpage. You can check out my screen cap here for the blurb in question. For those not wanting to goto ESPN (I don’t blame you) or to look at the screen cap, I’ll quote and highlight the juicy parts of the current ESPN main page teaser link under the headline of ‘San Francisco Treat’
Despite a lackluster season and a cloud of suspicion hanging over
him, Barry Bonds will be right at home in the 78th All-Star Game. Fans voted the embattled slugger to his 14th Midsummer Classic. Story.
Are you kidding me? Lackluster!? When I read ESPN sometimes I get this high pitched shrill in my head and I wake up in a pool of blood, is that normal? Does ESPN even know what the word lackluster means? Is Karl Ravech as dead inside as he looks? So many questions.
Watching anything baseball related on ESPN over the last few years has been excruciating. This is the same network that hires guys like John Kruk, Steve Phillips, and Joe Freaking Morgan to shovel “baseball knowledge” down our throats. This is the same network that would have you believe that the only thing that exists anymore in baseball is the Yankees Red Sox rivalry.
Baseball Tonight is one giant punchline to a sad, sad joke. Just this night I was watching BT, I usually do because I like to see how detached from reality these guys are, and I hear John Kruk spew the following out. “Sammy Sosa deserves to be an All Star, he’s the most exciting part of the Texas Rangers and he’s got a lot of RBI’s” I swear to god thats what he said, I’m paraphrasing but thats still what he said.
But Chris, you say, Sosa is tied for 4th in the AL in RBIs, and he hits the occasional HR, surely he can’t be all bad?
Thats where you are wrong. I like to call this the “Pedro Feliz Effect” because basing a players performance off of something like RBIs is bad baseball. In 2006 Pedro Feliz drove in 98 RBIs and hey, that looks pretty good on the back of a baseball card right? But the other side of Feliz, the much darker, uglier side, was a .281 OBP and a low .244 BA. Feliz finished the season with a OPS+ of 79, well below average. A crippled David Bell was better than Feliz in ’06.
RBIs are a product of not necessarily how good you are but where you are batting in the lineup. Because RBIs are amassed when you knock in a guy that was in front of you who already successfully got on base, you’ll find bad players with high RBI totals all the time just because they were batting high in the lineup. This is the same reason that guys like Tony Bautista, a poor hitter who had some pop, much like Pedro or Sammy at this point in his career, had seasons where he drove in over 100 runs. If you hit Babe Ruth 9th, he’s probably not going to drive in as many runs compared to if he was batting 3rd. Because managers usually create their lineups with the best players in front (the ones who get on base more) and the weakers ones towards the back (the ones who get on base less). In this scenario, there wouldn’t be much for Babe to drive in at the bottom of the order and thus his hypothetical low RBI total.
By the way, Sosa hits 4th for the Rangers as their DH. Kenny Lofton, the rangers leadoff hitter, is having a great year with a .386 OBP. He’s going to be on base for Sammy more times than not. Also in front of Sosa are Vasquez (.323 OBP) Kinsler (.334 OBP) and Young (.343 OBP). All of the sudden Sosa and his (7.2 VORP) look very replaceable for the Rangers. Add in the fact that he’s purely a DH at this point makes him even more replaceable. But hey, he’s “exciting” and hits the occasional tater, he must be good! It’s remarkable that Sosa has even been able to reach 600 this year and resemble anything of a major leaguer but the All Star team? Let’s not get carried away.
This is basic, baseball fundamentals. This isn’t something outlandish or crazy, it’s common sense. And I know that expecting John Kruk to exhibit common sense is flying in the face of everything holy but come on ESPN. Seriously, come on!
Back to the original Bonds statement. To call Bonds’ season “lackluster” is just bad, bad, bad sports journalism. Right at this very moment, Barry ranks 2nd in the National League, only to Chase Utley, in VORP with a score of (39.4) to Chase’s (40.7)
Lackluster? Excuse me?
Bonds is having a better season than guys such as: Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howad, Matt Holiday, Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, David Wright, Ken Griffery Jr., Albert Pujols, and the list goes on. That’s “lackluster”? And Bonds is doing it at age 43, he’s showing why he’s considered by many to be the greatest hitter ever to play the game. If you ranked the entire major league by VORP, Bonds is 6th. Ahead of David Ortiz, Grady Sizemore, and others. He’s also leading everyone in the majors with a (.504) OBP which is just insane. He’s getting on base every other time he comes to the plate. Let me bold this for emphasis.
EVERY OTHER TIME!!
How is Bonds’ season in any way, shape, or form lackluster?