Maybe it's too much to say that counting stats don't matter. But increasingly, we hear them described as too random, too dependant on team dynamics or situations, or too damn flukey.
It's possible that there is some truth to that, although it depends on just how seriously someone is reading (or reading into) the counting stats. If someone is going to say a dude with 100 RsBI is clearly superior to the guy with 98, then yeah, that's probably putting a little too much into them. But if you're willing to use them as a rough guide, then you might be able to find a little something worth holding onto.
This is especially true of our new favorite old counting stat: Total bases.
Our admiration for total base tallies crept up on us, until we realized how often we were using it to get a gague of who was performing well for the Jays' minor league teams. After sorting on the old reliable stat columns, including OBP and SLG, we find ourselves scratching our head to figure out what, if anything, they meant, especially given the varying sample sizes.
But if we wanted to sort quickly to get a sense of who was most productive on a team, we'd look under the TB column, and whoomp, there it is. That's who's touching as many bags as they can as often as they can, and in baseball, that's really the name of the game, isn't it. That's what we thought that we really liked about total bases: that it captures the totality of a player's offensive output all in one number.
Sadly, we've only now come to realize a few flaws in total bases. Our notion was that the number included walks (it doesn't), hit-by-pitch (nope) and stolen bases (nuh-uh) as well as hits and possibly bases taken on hits and on sacrifices (pshaw!), to capture the entirety of, or the whole of, or, what's the word we're looking for here? Oh yeah: we thought that TOTAL bases would account for the TOTAL number of bases that a player touched throughout the year.
But sadly, no. And as a result, we'll spare you our whole defense of Alex Gonzalez, which was predicated on using his 82 total bases thus far (fourth best in MLB so far, just behind Vernon's 84).
But you'd have to admit that our make believe version of total bases would be a pretty great number to have, wouldn't it? And if you were to divide it by the number of plate appearances, you could get a pretty holistic sense of what a player is accomplishing on the field.
The is what we get for trying to find profound answers through simplicity. It's a fool's heartbreak for us once again.
We're about to head away to spend some time elsewhere the next week, so we'll be out of the loop for a while. (And the last time we did that, the Jays announced that they were going to trade Halladay, so expect big things while I'm gone.)
In the interim, we leave you in the very capable hands of The Ack: A man who, we came to understand last week, can grill a steak with the best of 'em, and never lets a man's glass go dry. Truly, a prince amongst men.
Have fun, stay positive, and be good to one another. We'll see you soon.