Saturday, February 10, 2007

Do not attempt to feed the HOFers

Check the technique, yo: Mike Schmidt is wicked pissed, and he's dropping shit like a pidgeon.

Unprompted, Mike Schmidt ticked off two names that, well, "tick me off. Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn, because they strike out so much."

First of all, I absolutely adore how incapable the Philadelphia media is of spending more than one week without broadsiding Pat Burrell. If Jim Salisbury walks into a McDonald's, and sees Burrell not tip the guy at the cash, it'll be in a story the next day. Nevermind the fact that no one tips people at McDonalds; that Burrell doesn't is more evidence that he's not a team player who strikes out too much and doesn't hustle to first and isn't even an adequate defensive left fielder and is responsible for the Great Hunger, because he was a secret British eco-terrorist in 1845.

Anyway, Schmidt has a problem with Burrell, and Dunn as well, because they strike out a lot. They are also high-OBP power hitters who are expected to slug at least .500 on a yearly basis. But I understand, to a point; Schmidt was one of those extremely rare power hitters who also managed to strike out infrequently. We can't expect him to understand the toils of lesser mortals ... oh, yes, we totally can:

This came from a guy who struck out 1,883 times during 18 years with the Phillies, including five seasons of more than 135 whiffs. He struck out so much early in his career that teammate Willie MontaƱez called him "Ah-choo" because strikeouts create the same breeze as a sneeze.

A guy who struck out so much that a nickname of his referred to his inability to avoid taking the collar is really pissed off that Burrell and Dunn strike out so much. It should be noted that the nicknames of those players are "Pat the Bat" and "Big Donkey," respectively. I do not believe either of those nicknames have to do with striking out, so obviously they have baseball talents that far outweigh their weaknesses, real or imagined.

Schmidt, the keynote speaker yesterday morning at a breakfast in Dayton, Ohio, said he regretted the way he approached hitting during his Hall of Fame career.

"Now I know that if I had choked up on the bat with two strikes and hadn't been so aggressive and gave in to the pitcher, I wouldn't have struck out so much. And that's what guys like Dunn and Burrell have to realize," Schmidt added.

Poor Mike Schmidt. I'm sure what he's thinking, when he's named to another publication's All-Century Team and is called pretty much unarguably the greatest third baseman of all-time by people who study baseball for a living, he thinks to himself, "They shoulda picked Carney Lansford!" You know why? Because Carney Lansford choked up on the fucking bat when there were two strikes, dammit.

Mike Schmidt career OPS+: 147
Mike Schmidt career SsTP (Sumbissions to Pitcher): 1883

Carney Lansford career OPS+: 111
Carney Lansford career SsTP: 719

Yep, Schmidt really should have spent less time being one of the singular offensive forces in the game and more time worrying about "not giving into the pitcher," which apparently means assuring the pitcher that you're content tapping out to the shortstop in an effort to avoid the ignominy of striking out.

Schmidt said that with a game on the line, pitchers don't mind facing guys like the Reds' Dunn and the Phillies' Burrell because they know they can strike them out.

"How do I know this? Because when I played, pitchers wanted me up there with the game on the line," he said. "They'd rather face me than a guy behind me like Greg Luzinski, who would put the ball in play.

I want to meet the pitcher who doesn't mind facing Burrell or Dunn in tight situations. I will not meet this pitcher, because he is such an idiot that he drowned yesterday in his bathroom sink while shaving.

As for the whole "they'd rather face me than Luzinski because he'd put the ball in play," thing, I think Schmidt has been dipping into my hash supply.

Mike Schmidt, SsTP/162 games: 127
Greg Luzinski, SsTP/162 games: 133

Anyway, not content to simply be wrong with his anecdotes, Schmidt decides to also be wrong with statistics. This is a wonderful quote:

"I look at Dunn and Burrell and I go, 'My God, if these guys cut their strikeouts down to 75 or 80, they put the ball in play 85 or 90 more times a year.' That's at least 15 more home runs a year and at least 35 more RBIs a year."

Mike Schmidt has already told us the way a batter can, theoretically, cut down on his strikeouts is to choke up on the bat, shortening his swing. When one shortens his swing, it cuts down (often drastically) on his power. Or so one would think; Mike Schmidt has actually found the door to the Matrix, here, because he's theorizing that shortening one's swing will actually cause one to hit home runs more frequently.

Burrell, HR/balls in play, 2006: 11.4
Burrell, HR/balls in play, in Schmidt's fantasy world of shortened swings: 6

That's fucking genius.

Schmidt hit 548 home runs, was National League MVP four times, and was named the top major-league player of the 1980s, despite his strikeouts. He wonders whether Dunn and Burrell watch St. Louis superstar Albert Pujols, a guy who hits not only for power but also for average, and strikes out fewer than 70 times a year.

"I mean, why would Dunn and Burrell watch what Pujols does and not want to be like him, as good as he is?" Schmidt said. "When their careers are over, they are going to wonder how much they left on the table, how much they left on the field. If only they had choked up with two strikes, spread their stances out. What they are doing now is not great, it is mediocrity."

We're going to ignore the fact that trying to compare Pat Burrell to once-in-a-generation hitters like PooHoles and Joe DiMaggio (guys who hit for power despite not striking out a ton) seems to be a favorite theme of Philadelphia sportswriters. What we are not going to ignore is the sheer lunacy Schmidt is displaying here: He actually thinks that the only thing separating PooHoles and Burrell is the latter's stubbornness in re: Striking Out. If only Burrell would strike out less, he'd suddenly turn into one of the single most incredible offensive players in the history of the sport.

Justin, my good friend, can you please explain to me why it is that retired Phillies greats are turning into total fucking retards?

Also, just because stuff like this is interesting to me, did anyone notice this?

Burrell in 2005: .289/.389/.504
Burrell in 2006: .258/.388/.502

Burrell, at one point, was benched because he was having such a "horrible" season (that is not a quote from anyone in particular), but did anyone on the coaching staff notice that, with the exception of batting average, he was having a virtually identical (and excellent) offensive season this year as he did last year? If anything, Burrell's '06 is more impressive, because he had to fade a 31-point drop in BA in order to keep his OBP and SLG in order. That's unreal! By all means, Kevin Towers, if Pat Gillick is dumb enough to pay any portion of this gentleman's salary, I would be more than happy to remove this albatross from the Philadelphia lineup.


Take a gander at 2006 most egregious SsTP offenders in the NL:



I mean, fuck those guys. Always giving in to the pitcher and shit. When they're not too busy being five of the most valuable hitters in all of baseball.

1 comment:

CSG said...

The only thing Schmidt left out was that he would of hit so many more homeruns if he played right now because pitchers are scared to throw inside. Seriously, anytime an old player talks about this issue, they make it sound like someone was getting hit by a pitch every other inning for some perceived injustice. Nevermind that HBP's are around the highest levels they've ever been right now.

I'm not sure what's up with local sportswriters and attacking players who strike out too much. I watched Mike Cameron essentially get run out of Seattle a couple years ago due to perception in the local media that he struck out too much, nevermind that he drew a ton of walks, was a great power-speed combo, and was maybe the best center fielder in the majors. Sportswriters must have way too much time on their hands.