Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Empty Hitters

I'm not saying that the following hitters are completely useless, but to me, they are clearly "empty." And by empty I mean, they might hit for average and some power, but do have abysmal OBPs. To me, OBP is one of the most important statistics and provides a better idea of the true efficiency of the hitter. Empty hitters are quite fascinating because many teams rely on them for quality production, but they can never truly achieve that level of success until they raise their OBP. (Note: When I look at OBP, a quality big league player should have an OBP at least 40 points above his batting average while great players will have an OBP 80-100 points above his BA). There is no doubt that these players have talent, but c'mon brother, learn how to take a walk!

Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners: He is a defensive specialist who hits .265. What's there not to love? Well, his .284 OBP his simply brutal and the fact that he is hitting second in the order in unfathomable. This is a good reason why the Mariners suck. How can you justify having a guy hit 2nd in the order when he can't produce an OBP of .300?

Miguel Tejada, Astros: Again, what is there not to like? Tejada was an all star this season and has a .285 BA with 12 HRs while hitting third for the Astros. Oh yeah, he has a .317 OBP. Tejada has walked 22 times all season! How is that acceptable for a 3 hitter! Tejada has never been much of a OBP hitter, but having a .317 OBP is an obvious sign of decline and he should not be counted on as a three hitter. Another great move by Ed Wade.

Corey Hart, Brewers: Yet another all-star who is having a good power season. Hart has hit .285 with 19 HR and 37 doubles, but seriously, how can he have an OBP of .319? Could you imagine if Hart could take walks? He would be able to use his incredible speed (22 SB) to further set up the Brewers offense. There is no doubt that Hart is an incredible talent, but his OBP needs to improve in order for him to take the next step as a pro.

Bengie Molina, Giants: Lemme get this out of the way: Bengie Molina is one of my favorite players. Why you may ask...because he is slower than dog poo and I love watching him run the bases. With that said, Bengie is a tremendous catcher on a horrible team and he is hitting cleanup simply because they have no one else. Molina is hitting a respectable .286 with 10 HR, but his OBP is a lowly .317. That is unacceptable for a cleanup hitter. No surprise that the Giants suck.

Jose Lopez, Mariners: There is no doubt in my mind that Jose Lopez makes no sense. The guy is having a great season with a .297 BA and 11 HR at 2b, where it is almost impossible to find power. But Lopez is only has a .321 OBP. Wow, Lopez has 22 walks in 522 at bats! That is a dismal number and is horrifically low for a starting player. To make matters worse, Lopez is hitting 5th in the Mariners lineup! Yet another reason why the Mariners suck! Don't they have anyone who can get on base? Geez...

Hmm, maybe I hit on something here. Four of the five guys I mentioned are on losing teams. Could it be possible that a low OBP could actually lead to losses? YES! The five lowest team OBPs are the: Padres, Athletics, Nationals, and Royals. What do they all have in common...they all suck. The five highest team OBP: Cubs, Red Sox, Rangers, Cardinals, and Yankees. Four of those five teams have some chance at making the playoffs (except the Rangers who have no pitching). So maybe there is a lesson here to all GMs: OBP is important. You can survive with players who have low OBP, but sustained success is rarely achieved (case in point: 2007 Mariners vs. 2008 Mariners). So please, look at OBP before you sign players or give them extensions, its very important.
(Seattle Times)

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