Friday, June 17, 2005

Yesterday, I listened to Howard Eskin...

so you don't have to!

Howard was his usual know-it-all self. He disparaged the Phillies offense, saying they were too dependent on home runs. He said that strategy won't work in parks that aren't run-friendly. He also claimed that they "don't make productive outs," such as moving the runner from second to third. Thus, he concluded, they would never make the playoffs.

I have a question. Can I have some of what he's smoking?

1) The Phillies are #3 in runs scored in the NL. I'm thinking that even if they aren't moving runners along, they must be doing something right, because they're only 6th in HRs, indicating that they either only hit HRs with runners on, or maybe drive them home in other ways.

2) Before he goes on about the park being the reason for the runs, please read this.

3) "Productive outs" are almost always unproductive. Generally, moving the runners up at the cost of an out is a losing strategy. It's almost always better to let your team hit than to get them to try to sacrifice or hit to the right side or anything like that. The only two general exceptions are a) in close games when you sacrifice an out to score the runner from third, and b) in games where you're in late innings in either a tie game or a one run game, a sacrifice can be helpful. That's pretty much the only time a regular hitter should be thinking about anything other than hitting the ball as hard as he can.

4) The Phillies lead the league in OBP and are second in OPS (charging hard there). Does this sound like any other team in the recent past?

Look, I'll take my shots at Howard, and although he knows a lot about sports, he deserves it. He bangs the drum on negativity, and refuses to appreciate the changes in the game of baseball over the past 10 years.


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