Jim Hendry is the general manager of the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago Cubs had, well, a comically bad offensive showing last year.
In short: among all major league clubs, the Cubs finished 17th in batting average, which wasn't good and wasn't bad. It was average. (The Red Sox did them only .001 better.) And yet the Cubbies somehow managed to parlay that .268 average into an on-base percentage of .319 (the lumbering Red Sox went for .351). Was that bad? Yes, it was very, very bad -- second-worst in baseball (to the Devil Rays, who batted .255, also worst in that category).
Where do you think the Cubs finished in runs scored? Well, they were third to last, nestled between the tiny-market, tiny-payrolled Pirates and Brewers.
Naturally, with these results, some complaints were raised. Perhaps there were some franchise-wide, deep, institutional problems here. Perhaps not.
Jim Hendry is finally, extremely begrudgingly, huffing- and puffingly sort of admitting that there were. Now, the headline of this Daily Herald article
is Higher on-base percentage to take higher priority with Cubs
but from his quotes, it really sounds like Hendry is fighting himself the whole way.“We hired Gerald Perry, who was the hitting coach of the Oakland A’s,” Hendry told a gathering over the weekend as he mentioned the Cubs’ new hitting coach. “They’ve set the standards for higher on-base percentage and working the count.”
Grrr, thinks Hendry, that'll hold 'em. Damn nerds. How long can I keep myself from disparaging numbers and touting experience?
Hendry: “Nobody sets out to ignore it. Guys don’t try to have lower on-base percentages. Certain guys in our game are still great players who don’t have high, high on-base percentages.
Backtrack. Defend. Backtrack. Come on. Your heart's not in this, Hendry. Stay the course, that's what I say.
I like that Hendry's defense here is to say "God, it's not like I'm telling the guys to try and get out, God
." Humorously juvenile.“Still, more importantly, you have to knock people in, knock the runs in the right way with two outs in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning.
Read that again. According to Jim Hendry, getting on base is less important than knocking in runs "the right way."
Jim Hendry's List of the Wrong Ways to Knock in Runs
-Using a cricket bat
-Catching the ball with your bare hand and throwing it into the gap
-Forcing a balk
-Grand slams (rally killers)
-With one or zero outs (not clutch)
-During the first six innings (A-Rod style)
-If you're a "run scorer" and not a "run producer"
-With your face
-With your assYou can fluctuate the numbers a lot of different ways to create your own argument.
Here are the numbers I'm fluctuating. 17th in batting average. 29th in on-base percentage. 28th in runs scored. But again, those are just my fluctuationations.
Certain guys are going to be run producers that you need, but they’re not extremely high on-base guys. A lot of times, you want somebody to hit one off the wall to knock in 2 and maybe not take that walk depending on who’s up next.
Right. You're going to want to hit a double because the guy coming up after you is a Chicago Cub and there's no way he's
getting on base.“It goes hand in hand with your experience level as much as looking at the back of a baseball card or a STATS, Inc., book on certain numbers.
I'm surprised he held it in that long. Forget the number of runs your team scored -- that's just a number
. That's found on cards
and in books
. Last time I checked, baseball is played on a field
, and unless that field is somehow sitting on a planet that's inside a galaxy shaped like a book, I don't want to hear about numbers
That's experience talking.The game’s all about two things: scoring runs and knocking in runs, and you have to have a balance of all of it.”
And pitching. You forgot pitching. (Although as reader Ben points out, perhaps he just doesn't care about pitching -- explains the Jason Marquis (2005 OPS+: 102) signing.)
Seriously, though, this little quote does indicate that Hendry genuinely believes the letter R ("scoring runs") and the letters RBI ("knocking in runs") are better measures of a player's offensive worth than the letters OBP. This even though Hey guys, I hired the A's hitting coach, whaddya want from me?
My point is: maybe the headline of this article wasn't so accurate.
Labels: cubs, jim hendry, obp