In a time when numerology has become the method by which every editor and marketing director in the land shapes their sport media product, a use that borders on the obsessive and snoozerific, this primordial statistic has somehow become the Rodney Dangerfield (“I don’t get no respect”) of all mathematical rods by which batters are measured in 2016: Runs scored.
This, even as runs account for one-half of that most basic of baseball equations: Runs scored in excess (>) of your opponent’s tally = victory. Sport simple.
But simple just won’t cut it today, so the sellers would have us believe.
A selling strategy that seems to prefer keeping fans mentally-barefoot and in the kitchen-of-confusion, so to speak. Tsk-tsk.
Convoluted calculus will serve the sportician by separating themselves from we of the unwashed masses, serving as a sort of secret, cliquy code. A club as it were. Whether it truly helps or not in appreciation of players and strategy or prognostication of contests is beside the point. A niche has been carved out. So the consumer overlords see it.
Do sabrmetrics actually help one to master the fantasy game? They certainly haven’t made much of an impact in the general managing profession, not if you aim for pennants (See; B.Beane (OAK ‘98-present))?
They may help one believe they’re an aid and that’s all that matters to make the register ring, cha-ching! Kind of like the philosophy of that great New Yorker, “George Costanza” of Seinfeld lore: “If you believe it’s true then it’s not a lie.”
Where the deep delve into digits can assist the fantasy fan in tangible result lies in simple fact that in crunching all of the calculations it’s just as likely that helpful patterns gleaned from performance stats will have been gotten from elementary totals (runs scored, ERA, etc.) and breakdowns (home / away, lefty v. righty) as from the trendy new acronyms. Unless you sequester your survey from the primes, who’s to say it wasn’t the traditionals that didn’t shape the mind?
And try telling that to a sabrhead. Oh, brother.
Because of this modern numbers myth, the easily discernable, key figures that served box-score connoisseurs and graced the backs of cards for decades in W-L, ERA, home runs, OB%, hits, RBIs, BA, steals, etcetera, are today relegated to the nether regions of TV graphics and sporting prose or neglected altogether, to make room for the new brood of cryptic acronyms (WAR, OPS%, QBR (NFL)) that befall & befuddle most fans every spring and pompously portend to’ve finally quantified the best calculations. Sure, Simon, whatever you say.
One exception where an elementary element is still accorded respect: The home run. Think of it as the Vin Scully of statistics: Resilient and revered.
Since the Bambino began knocking ‘em out with a passion (1919) the round-tripper, the dinger or in former Brewers’ batsman George Scott lexicon, the “tater,” has continued to capture the national attention. And Bud Selig’s Family Fun Show & All-Star Home Run Derby Jamboree week in July has made sure it stays captured.
But there’s a new style of play on the ball diamond.
A man who upon making the major league scene in 2011 showed himself to be a throwback who knows the equation and keeps his eye on the prize: Score runs on the base-path and prevent them with the glove. His name: Mike Trout, centerfielder for the California Angels. I’m a throwback, too.
Trout is what’s known as a Hamiltonian, a rare breed in 2016.
That’s not to be confused with that early American political party named after it’s chief proponent in Alexander Hamilton, born of the British West Indies who become an aid-de-camp to General George Washington, a co-author of the Federalist Papers, our fledgling nation’s first Treasury Secretary and dueling casualty (d.1804) of then Vice President, Aaron Burr.
Also known as Federalism, a view which promoted strong central government in opposition to the Jeffersonians (Anti-Federalists) who were anti-elitist, pro-States and individual rights. Oh yeah, tomatoes, too. Tom also touted that lycopene-rich fruit that changed the world (See; cooking & “Michael Dorsey“).
He’s not that kind of Hamiltonian, at least not to my knowledge.
Having led the Junior Circuit in runs for three of his four full ML seasons, Trout is on pace to be in league with the greatest of all plate-crossers, incomparable Billy “Sliding” Hamilton (1888 – 1901) who finished with 1697 total in just 14 seasons, bested the 140 mark six times and still holds the single-season tally of 198 runs scored.
The great Rickey Henderson (1979 – 03) bested Billy by 600 scores, though, compiling that figure in 25 seasons with his highest season total being 146 (‘85 (143g)).
The percheron-necked slugger from the Garden State, the 2014 AL-MVP, has scored 477 runs in just four full campaigns in Anaheim and cup o’ coffee (20g) he had in his first taste. That consistently high run production is even more impressive alongside a strong RBI output (397 (4y)) and power stroke where Mike has averaged 33 homers per and topped at 41 in 2015.
Attitude today on batter strikeouts is essentially ‘pay no mind,’ even as opportunities are forsaken, as long as RBIs and BA run respectable. On that trend the New Jersey juggernaut runs with the pack, averaging 150+ whiffs per season. He’s in good company as Senior Circuit’s 2015 MVP and runs champ Bryce Harper (131 (118r)) and ROY Kris Bryant (199! (87r)) are free-swingers alike.
Trout: 5yrs: 2448 AB; 647 SO; .304 BA
Hamilton: 14yrs: 6283 AB; 362 SO; .344 BA
You might say, ‘It’s too different a game today to fairly compare.’ Not on making contact, it isn’t. Teams in 2016 who put the ball in play with greater regularity are more likely to win games and titles just as they were in 1894.
The world champion Kansas City Royals were ranked AL tops in fewest team SOs (973 (#1)), 2d in hits (1497 (#2)) and sixth in runs scored (724 (#6)). You need to satisfy other half of that equation (pitch) but KC computed fine there too.
Mike’s anchoring a Los Angeles Angels’ batting lineup short on big names, one of the few being a game but aging superstar in Albert Pujols (36). But Trout is looking to keep his season strikeout trend on downward direction (158 (‘15) / 184 (‘14)), slugging percentage strong (.590 (#1 AL)) and a fielding display that at times is downright thrilling and nearly flawless in routine (428 PO / 7A / 0E (1.000)).
If Mr. Rock Steady can avoid those career-altering injuries and keep his nose pointed to home-plate, when all is said & done he may get fans to take notice of runs again and then find himself in amongst the best of company, the GAT in career runs-scored, including Misters Henderson, Cobb, Aaron, Rose, Hamilton and his teenage sports idol, Derek Jeter. Not ♫ bad company ♫ at all.
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: M.Trout-fan, wc.cca, 7.24.11, MD, K.Allison; Trout-cap, wc, K.Allison, 7.23.11, MD; B.Beane-DePodesta, wc, 9.9.11, GabboT; Trout, wc, 7.22.11, MD, K.Allison; B.Hamilton, Goodwin, LoC, B.Edwards, 1887, wc; Trout-gloves, 7.23.11, wc, K.Allison, MD; A.Pujols, wc, 4.14.12, M.O’Leary; Canned-corn.
Posted: 3.14.16 @ 5:33pm EST; Copyright © 2016
Filed under: MLB
Tagged with: Aaron Burr, ahead of the curve, Albert Pujols, Alexander Hamilton, Anaheim, analytics, Anti-Federalist, Babe Ruth, Bad Company, baseball, Billy Beane, Billy Hamilton, can o' corn, Derek Jeter, Dodgers, dueling, fantasy baseball, Federalist Papers, GAT, George Costanza, Hamiltonian, Hank Aaron, history, home run derby, Jeffersonian, Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout, MLB 2016, Moneyball, movies, numerology, Pete Rose, politics, Rickey Henderson, Rock Steady, Rodney Dangerfield, runs scored, sabrmetrics, sports, strikeouts, tater, tomatoes, Tootsie, Troutonics, Ty Cobb, Vin Scully