Let's take a quick look back at that last Eckstein article, the one from the Philadelphia Daily News
. The author, a guy named Sam Donnellon, actually attributes some tangible baseball quality to Eck -- he equates "grittiness" to the ability to extend at bats and force the pitcher to throw more pitches:Here's what else is: Eckstein's approach. He entered last night's game more bubbly about a .154 World Series average than any major leaguer has a right to be. Why? Because Eckstein knew he was playing his role, watching and wasting pitches at the top of the order.
Right. He wasn't getting hits, but at least he was super-good at tiring pitchers out. Wasn't he? He had to be, he's gritty and tough. But wait: we don't have to just believe this is true on faith -- we can check and make sure because people actually count the number of pitches each player takes, write down that information, and input it into computers for posterity. From a very cursory glance at this ESPN.com page
about Cardinals hitters, we can see that in the playoffs, of players who have hit in nine or more games, David Eckstein ranks sixth in pitches per plate appearance on his own team
. Still convinced he was doing a good job "playing his role"?His gritty and lengthy at-bats all postseason, even when they ended as outs and not doubles, have stamped a personality on a Cardinals team that survived its way into the postseason.
Yes, apparently you are. Well, let's look at the regular season, since the postseason is a stupidly small sample anyway. Here's a list
of the top 40 MLB hitters in P/PA. Eckstein's sitting pretty, isn't he? No, he's not there. Hmm, that's odd. Well, here's
numbers 40-80. Eckstein? Eck? Are you there?
You aren't, because Davidgrit Gritstein ranked 82nd in pitches per plate appearance during the 2006 season. Behind Tony Graffanino, Willy Taveras, Reed Johnson, Todd Walker and Jack Wilson. G. David Eckstein (the G. stands for Grit) ranked 71 places behind much-maligned strikeoutaholic Adam Dunn.
So you can say he's small. You can say he's a good person because he's playing through injuries. You can say he's inspirational and he helps the team win through increased morale like some sort of transluscent mascot. Just don't say his at bats are lengthy. Because they're almost exactly as lengthy as Nick Punto's or Adrian Beltre's.
Look. Even I'm sort of almost getting sick of writing about Eckstein. But he just hasn't been that good, either in the regular season or the playoffs. It's weird and frightening and fascinating to me that after he has one good game, the floodgates open up and everyone publishes the Eckstein piece it seems like they already had completely written and saved as a Word doc on their computers. This was his line in the playoffs before Game 4:
.185/.290/.259, 1 XBH
I mean, yikes. I'm not honestly suggesting that people should have been printing Eckstein is a Playoff Choker articles, but hey -- where were the Eckstein is a Playoff Choker articles?
Maybe I should stop being so angry and just start living by the credo everyone else seems to be following: if you're little and you're nice, people will like you and that's that.
Labels: david eckstein