Sunday, May 29, 2005

Facts & Joe Morgan: Mutually exclusive


During tonight's Red Sox-Yankees game (again, again! more, more! never, never enough!), the ESPN people ran a graphic that illustrated how effective Boston's offense is. I can't remember the details, but it listed the Red Sox as something like (among AL teams):

---> 1st in batting average;
---> 3rd in slugging percentage;
---> 2nd in runs scored; and definitely,
---> 1st in on-base percentage.

Upon seeing the graphic, Joe Morgan appeared strangely surprised to learn that the Sox were first in OBP; he said (paraphrasing), "That's interesting, because it hasn't really been Boston's game." Morgan then repeated a theme from earlier about how the Red Sox have become quite adept at hammering good pitching.

I'd like to know the planet Morgan calls home. Sure, the Red Sox are leading the league in OBP; that's not a new thing, you know. Here, let's spell it out, thanks to the wonder of BaseballReference.com:

Year . . . . . . Boston OBP . . . . Rank
2004 . . . . . . .360 . . . . . . . . . . . 1st
2003 . . . . . . .360 . . . . . . . . . . . 1st

Hell, even if Morgan doesn't have time to do the two or three clicks required for laymen like us to perform such extensive analysis, doesn't he know that the Red Sox hired Bill Freakin' James? This isn't news; that was a year-and-a-half ago, for crying out loud.

Morgan himself points out that the Red Sox are a bunch of big, lumbering sluggers. Doesn't he know that there's a pretty decent correlation between "wait for your home run pitch" with "drawing walks"?

It goes even farther than that, actually. Not even ten minutes after expressing surprise that the Red Sox are this ultra-patient team, Morgan pointed out that Johnny Damon is different than many of the Boston hitters in that he is . . . guess what . . . a free swinger. Morgan's own analysis isn't even internally consistent. I wonder how Jon Miller retains his sanity.

Anyway, I don't want to turn this into a subpar impersonation of Aaron Gleeman. As a matter of fact, even considering Morgan's faults (and there are many, of course), I sort of like the guy as a color commentator. I guess it's because, above all, he's fairly personable; he and Miller make a pretty good team.

On the other hand, Morgan's biggest problem is that he's essentially unaccountable---at least among points like these. On minor things, like games of semantics and logical puzzlers, Miller banters with Morgan. But, concerning the domain of analysis, Morgan is pretty much untouchable. And that's never a good thing.

Comments:
I think it was a BTF poster who pointed out that Morgan seems always to be arguing with a strawman who says a walk is better than a hit. He's obsessed with proving the strawman wrong.
 
Yeah, I've noticed that.

I've always loved his preference for a team that has EVERYTHING---as if the statheads don't want that, too.
 
I think most statheads, dare I say it, would be thrilled with a team of 9 Rickeys.

He's pretty close to the dream player: Power, On-base, Speed.
 
Thrilled? Maybe, Chris. But I have a feeling they'd hold out for 9 Bondses. ;-)
 
I heard that comment too, and was equally befuddled -- especially when he said the Red Sox last year *didn't* have a good on-base percentage.

Jon Miller was speechless.
 
If you ever catch Morgan on an espn.com chat and point out how something he said on the air was completely wrong, he'll deny ever having said it.
 
Like, say, whether Billy Beane wrote a certain little book? :)
 
Morgan's always to busy talking about what a great player he was to concern himself with facts.
 
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