I’ve always joked that unearned runs matter only to a player’s parents and his agent.
Same holds for most of the new generation stats. There are so many that they will make your head spin.
For a hundred years, baseball got along just fine with batting average and on-base percentage as a barometer of a player’s offensive output.
ERA is a brilliantly simple measure of a pitcher’s success.
But then hairs started being split. Everyone started looking beyond the numbers. Everybody wanted to be the statistical genius that cracked the code and discovered the hidden holy grail to baseball championships. Much of it is smugness, “I understand the game better than you”ness.
At it’s core, these new stats are trying to justify which .240 hitter is better. Or why one guy hitting .235 might be more valuable than the guy hitting .272. There is, to be sure, value to that.
But at the end of the day, I would take a lineup full of .300 hitters over a lineup full of .250 hitters any day, no matter what their wOBA, wRC+, BABiP are.
And I think I would do pretty well with a rotation whose ERA is 3.20 compared to one that’s 4.00, regardless of their FIF and xFIP.
I am not saying those stats aren’t interesting. Or are worthless. I am saying, too often they are minutia. No matter how closely you study the molecules of a rock, it’s still a rock.
I say this because Home Run Derby champ Bryce Harper is in his walk year. He is having a poor season—hitting .214 with a non-stellar .833 OPS, forty-fifth best in baseball. His agent, Scott Boras, who has in the past already hinted at Harper being the first $400 million contract ever, is starting to stare reality in the face. His client isn’t the best baseball player in the history of all-time. He isn’t even the best in baseball now. Not close. He won’t even be the best player on the market in the off-season. Manny Machado will.
His client has never driven in one hundred runs (on some really good Washington Nationals teams), has batted over .300 in just two of his seven seasons, and has not led his league in a single offensive category in any season of his career other than his amazingly stellar MVP season of 2015.
So, when the numbers don’t lie, you have to spin them. Which is what Boras is doing in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.
It began as a discussion on shifts, and what they are doing to baseball. But, Boras, ever the agent, naturally tried to spin it to the benefit of his client.
Much of it is laughable as he rationalizes, or attempts to, why Trout and Machado are somehow pitched to easier than Harper is. Or why the shift if unfairly targeting Harper.
He offers stats only a player’s agent and parents can love.
You have to hand it to the guy. He goes the extra mile for his clients. Even if that takes him on a detour straight through Crazyville.