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Just The Sports: Are Statistics That Hard To Understand?

Just The Sports

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Are Statistics That Hard To Understand?

John Hunt may not be a complete idiot, but he is not far from it.

For Adrian Beltre, all signs pointed to a comeback season in 2006: He reported to camp in great shape, he hit .300 with four home runs in the World Baseball Classic in March, and, well, things couldn't have gotten much worse than his 2005 season (.255, 19 home runs).

Comeback?! Comeback from what? I hope John Hunt doesn't mean what I think he does. Namely, that he expects Adrian Beltre to have a significantly better season this year than Beltre had last year because that is highly unlikely. If John Hunt had spared a couple of minutes in his busy day to check out Adrian Beltre's career statistics, he would see that Beltre's 2005 season where his batting statistics were .255 BA, .303 OBP, .413 SLG, and .716 OPS are pretty indicative of his major league career. In fact, in six of the eight seasons Beltre has played, he has been an average to below average hitter.

The season on which Hunt is probably basing his comeback theory is 2004, a season so non-representative of Beltre's career it should never be used to base an argument on. Yes, Beltre had a phenomenal season that year where his batting numbers were .334 BA, .388 OBP, .629 SLG, and 1.017 OPS. However, after examining the special set of circumstances surrounding the aforementioned season, one has to look at these numbers with a heavy dose of skepticism. For Adrian Beltre, 2004 was a contract year, meaning he would be a free agent after that year and was essentially playing so that he could trick a team in signing him to a lucrative contract. This meant he actually had to try hard for the first time in his major league career and the fact his concentration had to be so high is reflected in the way he vastly out-performed his career stats. His efforts were rewarded after the Seattle Mariners foolishly gave him a 5 year, $64 million contract. Since then, Beltre has regressed to the hitter he really is.

So what do Beltre's career stats look like once we remove this anomalous year? Like this:

BA: .260
OBP: .317
SLG: .425
OPS: .742

All of these stats are right around the league averages for the same time span, reinforcing that Beltre is no more than an average batter.

The consensus is that Beltre is pressing. But some blame the WBC for disrupting his preparation in the spring.

Beltre isn't pressing. He is this poor a hitter.

Now, the second statement is just ridiculous. How can playing competitive games against some of the best players in the world disrupt Beltre's preparation for the season where he will be playing a lot of competitive games? And do you know what he would have done if he had gone to spring training instead of the WBC? He would have been playing in pseudo-competitive games, facing inferior pitching. So if anything, the WBC was a better tune-up to the season, especially when one considers that the Dominican Republic made it to the championship game, allowing Beltre more repetitions at the plate.


  • I swore like a sailor (wait, that's less than I normally swear) when the Mariner "brass" overpaid for that flash in the pan. They now have a 12 million dollar glove.

    By Blogger copyranter, at 4:20 PM  

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