Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lies Damned Lies and Statistics

I had forgotten that Jim Edmonds was still playing for the Brewers. I saw he hit a home run last night and was curious of where Edmonds stood on the all-time list and whether a case could be made that Edmonds was a potential Hall of Fame player.

What I learned got me thinking about stats and whether they are all that people are cracking them up to be.

Jim Edmonds is in his 17th major league season. He won 8 Gold Gloves in a 9-year stretch during the prime of his career and was a feared slugger during that same stretch. He currently has 387 HR which places him 54th on the all-time list. That puts him just below Albert Pujols (388 and counting) and Johnny Bench (389). He's also just above Dwight Evans (385) who seems like the natural comparable in my mind.

Evans also won 8 Gold Gloves in his career and was also known more for his glove than his bat. That's not to belittle the offensive prowess of either player (Edmonds or Evans). What's strange is that in certain circles Dwight Evans is elevated above teammate Jim Rice in regards to offensive accomplishments.

Where am I going with this? Well I was just wondering if the type of person who argues that Dwight Evans was the superior player to Jim Rice would also try to argue that Jim Edmonds is a superior hitter to Johnny Bench. As has been pointed out both players are basically equal in HR and Bench played in 17 seasons - just like Edmonds. However, Edmonds has the better career OBP (.376 to .342), OPS (.903 to .817) and OPS+ (131 to 126) compared to Bench. Those are the type of stats that sabermetric minded folks eat up.

I would never dream of putting Jim Edmonds ahead of Johnny Bench but now I won't be shocked when someone makes that argument. You know it's coming.

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