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Hit 'em where it hurts

Posted at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2005 by Bob Collins (5 Comments)

Excuse me, but when did Major League Baseball become the Daughters of the American Revolution?

In advance of the Indians-Twins series, Major League Baseball warned the scrappy Central Division warriors against, well, playing baseball the way it used to be played. You know, chin music, war of words, an occasional two steps toward the mound.

What is going on here?

We call upon Bert Blyleven to try to sort this out. Bert was interviewed by Tom Crann on MPR's All Things Considered on Monday evening. (
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You know who I miss? Dennis Martinez. If there wasn't an opponents name in the box score in the morning under HBP, Dennis was having a lousy game. Pushing batters off the plate was just the way the game was played and if you didn't like, well, there was always Nova.

I don't know if you watched Baseball Tonight on ESPN last night (Monday) but Harold Reynolds and John Kruk (who prove that there realy is life after baseball for mediocre players) had their own war of words over -- what else -- a tremendous gaffe by the Chicago Cubs.

Or was it?

Lee was the runner -- and we use the term only because we have to -- at first on a hit behind him down the line to right. As he headed for second, Juan Uribe, the secondbaseman, held up his hands and said "foul ball." (See Cub town)

It was, however, fair.

Lee bought the fake.


Harold Reynolds criticized Uribe, saying something preposterous like "it wasn't courteous," which sent John Kruk into a riotous exchange noting that most middle infielders are notorious liars.

The solution? When Uribe comes to bat, the Chicago Cubs pitcher drills him.

But that's so... yesterday.

Comments (5) defines mediocre as "Moderate to inferior in quality; ordinary."

John Kruk hit exactly .300 with a .397 on-base-percentage in 10 big league seasons. Is that "mediorce"?

Posted by daveZ | May 24, 2005 9:48 PM

Yeah, actually, that IS mediocre. I'm an old-school baseball guy. I believe that firstbase is a power position. I don't particularly care for the Doug Mienkiewicz and Ben Broussards of the world. If you're going to play first, you have to hit the ball a long way and hit it often.

Kruk, because a big old slob, looks like a real threat to do that. But, playing in the juiced ball era, he hit 20 or more homers exactly twice. His career average is 14 homers and 80 RBI (RBI isn't an effective way to evaluate any hitter so no sense even throwing that into the mix).

Is that good? I'd say that's relatively ordinary. And for firstbasemen in the '90s, that's the poster child for ordinary.

Similar batters to Kruk? Mike Easler, Orlando Merced, Hal Morris, Steve Kemp, Rusty Greer.


Posted by Bob Collins | May 25, 2005 1:48 PM

Kruk, a 3-time All Star, was .300 career hitter with nearly a .400 OBP as stated above. He was also a major contributor to a pennant winning team ('93 Phils).

That's an average career?!

Wow, do they have tough standards at MPR!

btw -- Reynolds was a two time All Star, three time Gold Glover and led the AL in steals in 1987.

The verdict is in: Both were good (not great) players.

Posted by daveZ | May 25, 2005 3:11 PM

Well, the standards are not MPR's, Dave. First, batting average -- as Bill James pointed out in his many studies -- is a meaningless statistic quoted by lots of folks as a mark of excelelent before better statistics came into existence.

Now, you're right, OBP is a much better statistic than batting average, but it, like all statistics, must be taken in context.

Is it great that Kruk had a high OBP. Sure it is. Better than having a low OBP percentage. But in context of slugging and Total Ops, what does it mean?

That the guy walked a lot. I say "good for him." But as I said, a firstbaseman in my book needs to do more to approach greatness than to average 14 homers a year. he simply needs to show power, a lot more power.

14 homers a year is average, and it's below average in the juiced ball era.

Hey, don't take my word for it. Go to and look at the statistics, and look at the batters with whom Kruk matches up.

Find me a Hall of Famer on the list. Heck, find me a "great" name on the list.

As you pointed out, mediocre is "ordinary." 14 dingers from a firstbaseman is ordinary.

If you're suggsting Harold Reynolds was NOT ordinary because he led the league in steals, well, good for you.

Reynolds also was lead-off hitter. Now look at his career OBP. .327. That, ummm, stinks for most batters and it stinks in particular for a lead-off guy.

Look at the batters Harold was most like. Horace Clarke! Horace Clarke!!!!!!! They invented the word mediocre for guys like Horace Clarke.

As for the All Stars, well, I stopped giving a rip about who the All Stars are when the fans started voting for them.

I'll bet Ken Griffey gets a lot of All Star votes this year.

Posted by Bob Collins | May 25, 2005 6:23 PM

OK, so if you're not in the HoF, you are "mediocre"?

Players that win gold gloves, play in mutiple All Star games and hit .300 in 10 seasons had good, solid, distinguished careers.

Dustan Mohr is mediocre.

Batting average is overrated, "not meaningless" Bill James, the god of the stat nerds himself, said that.

If you hit .300 with a .400 OBP, you get a lot of walks & hits -- that's good, with 30 HR power it'd be great.

Mediocre is average which I am guessing is around a .250 BA and .320 OBP.

Posted by daveZ | May 26, 2005 8:14 AM

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