Bill James has often said that if we didn’t keep trustworthy offensive numbers, we would likely not be able to tell much difference between a .300 hitter and a .275 hitter, a 25 homer guy and a 20 homer guy, a 100 RBI guy and an 80 RBI guy and so on. I think this is true, though I would say there are exceptions here – I do think that, in a very short period of time, we would realize that Jason LaRue can’t hit.
Tangent: This year, in 127 at-bats, LaRue is hitting .157. That would be a 1 followed by a 5 followed by a 7. Now, many people have wondered why LaRue keeps playing on a fairly regular basis, and I don’t have a particularly intelligent answer for this; I do have a theory. I think it may have something to do with the regret the Royals feel for not going into the National League a few years ago when they had a chance. Since they cannot have their pitchers hit, they are doing the next best thing.
Two other points about LaRue:
1. He hit .194 in 191 at-bats last year. So that means that in his last 318 at-bats, LaRue is hitting .179. The last guy to get 300 at-bats in ONE season and hit that badly … the great Rob Deer in 1991. He hit .179 in 448 at-bats. Deer did bang 25 homers (13 more than LaRue) and walk 89 times (50 more than Larue). Before that, you have to go back to 1974.
2. Tony La Russa made big news by hitting his pitcher eighth. So where was the national media when Buddy Bell hit LaRue seventh?
Everyone needs to bookmark The Soul Of Baseball (the blog) and buy The Soul of Baseball (the book). Also, keep tabs on what JoePo writes in the KC Star, like this lovely, hope-filled piece from yesterday, which was good to keep in mind last night as KC left the bases loaded in the 8th inning.