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Theo Epstein Gets It- Why Can’t Sabean?

October 23, 2009

A tip of the hat goes to Mr. Joe Posnanski for this gem.  I must be really out of the loop- this conversation happened about three weeks ago.  In any case, I love what Theo had to say.  This is directly from Posnanski’s post, and the commentary and bolded texts are his, not mine:

“Sometimes you get stuck in the world of evaluating players through home runs and RBIs. And it’s not the way that I think most clubs do it these days. And if you look at underlying performance of a lot of our guys, they bring more to the table than just the counting stats. And J.D.’s certainly having another good year for us. He’s up around a .900 OPS right now, and he’s playing really good defense in right field, he deserves an awful lot of credit for that, he’s been pretty darned good for the three years that he’s been here if you look at the underlying performance.”

The radio guys here protest a little … they point out that while Drew’s OPS is usually good, they aren’t sure that it has led to PRODUCTION — namely runs scored and RBIs. And this is when Theo really takes over. I bold out a few of my favorite thoughts in this wonderful little lesson:

“That’s not true. With RBIs, yes. Based on his skill set, he’s always going to have underwhelming RBI totals. I couldn’t care less. When you’re putting together a winning team, that honestly doesn’t matter. When you have a player who takes a ton of walks, who doesn’t put the ball in play at an above average rate, and is a certain type of hitter, he’s not going to drive in a lot of runs. Runs scored, you couldn’t be more wrong. If you look at a rate basis, J.D. scores a ton of runs.

“And the reason he scores a ton of runs is because he does the single most important thing you can do in baseball as an offensive player. And that’s NOT MAKE OUTS. He doesn’t make outs. He’s always among our team leaders in on-base percentage, usually among the league leaders in on-base percentage. And he’s a really good base runner. So when he doesn’t make outs, and he gets himself on base, he scores runs — and he has some good hitters hitting behind him. Look at his runs scored on a rate basis with the Red Sox or throughout his career. It’s outstanding.

You guys can talk about RBIs if you want, I just … we ignore them in the front office … and I think we’ve built some pretty good offensive clubs. If you want to talk about RBIs at all, talk about it as a percentage of opportunity but it’s just simply not a way or something we use to evaluate offensive players.”

Theo discusses the importance of OBP, which is something the Giants clearly have no concept of.  I’d be interested to hear a debate between Sabean and Epstein regarding how runs are created.  I mean, the concept is pretty simple, isn’t it?  You have to get on base to score runs.  Why the Giants don’t understand this and refuse to emphasize this is beyond me.

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