On Billy Beane

Simon Burnton of the Guardian (UK), interviewing A’s GM/Brad Pitt doppelganger Billy Beane, notes that:

Two years later, having hit three home runs in six Major League seasons and boasting the horribly ho-hum batting average of .219 – which in the 2011 season would have made him the 145th most productive batter in MLB – he gave up and became an opposition scout.

I doubt only 144 MLB players batted more than .219 last season. But without even checking the numbers, never mind wondering why a story on sabermetrics would focus on batting average, why would ranking 145th out of any number of MLB players—even 145—be so bad?

Canucks blogger Tom Benjamin, before he had a Canucks blog (believe it or not, there were once “listservs,” not to mention “gophers” and other unmentionables), once wondered why would-be Canuck Craig Janney was being tarred and feathered by some fans for being “soft.” Even if we could define a “soft player,” argued Tom, and even if Janney fit the description, he still wasn’t soft enough to disqualify him from being a top scorer, or any level of scorer whatsoever, in the most elite league composed of the most talented players in the world.

Even if Simon Burnton actually meant that Billy Beane were the 1145th ranked MLB player out of 1145, what’s wrong with 1145? Sure beats not being ranked.


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