As I was sitting in gridlock on the way to work today I flipped to XM's baseball station. I hadn't listened to it in awhile but being that we're close to the start of the season it seemed worth a try.
For any of you that listen to the station, how long has Rob Dibble been on the morning show? Ugh. I disagree with everything that comes out of that man's mouth. In fact, if I'm ever not sure what to think of something I'll ask Rob Dibble and then believe the opposite of what he says.
The topic of the morning was players who you'd like to see have a strong comeback after a bad 2009 season. One of the first callers said Jimmy Rollins. Pretty good choice as Jimmy had a rough time at the plate last year. So what does Rob Dibble have to say about that?
"If you look at the numbers, Rollins actually had a better year in 2009 than he did in 2008. Yeah his on base percentage was down some but he scored 100 runs in 2009. In 2008 he only scored 76 runs. So even though he didn't get on base as much he proved that he can get on base when it counts. If I'm a manager I'd take Jimmy Rollins' 2009 over his 2008 any day because he does what it takes to win." (this isn't verbatim, obviously, but I'm confident that I'm not mis-representing him in any way)
I mean. COME THE FUCK ON. Here are Jimmy's numbers in '08 and '09 by the way (he missed time in '08 with an early season trip to the DL):
With the exception of home runs Jimmy Rollins was better in pretty much every category in 2008 (if you're into the more advanced stats, FanGraphs tells a similar story). But this really isn't about Jimmy Rollins. It's about Rob Dibble.
I don't care about runs but since Dibble used runs scored as pretty much the only reason that Rollins had a better '09 than '08, let's take a look at them. Simple math tells me that 76 runs in 625 plate appearances is 0.1216 R/PA while 100 runs in 725 PA is 0.1379 R/PA, meaning that if Rollins had 100 more plate appearances '08 he may have scored about 88 runs. Still less than in '09 but a 12 run difference over 155 games is less than a tenth of a run per game.
Additionally, Rob Dibble doesn't seem to care that this very marginal increase in runs scored might have something to do with the three hitters behind Rollins in 2009. In 2009 Shane Victorino had his best numbers at the plate in his career, Chase Utley's OBP went up by almost 20 points from '08, and Ryan Howard went from .251/.339/.543 in '08 to .279/.360/.571 in '09. No, the reason that Rollins scored (hardly any) more runs despite his OBP dropping over 50 points is because he does what it takes to win. He is also apparently psychic and know when the guys behind him will get a hit and in those instances is extra sure to get on base.
So really, the ways in which Rob Dibble doesn't know what he's talking about are multi-layered. First of all any half knowledgeable person recognizes that runs scored is an awful way to judge a player. Apart from maybe not getting thrown out on base running mistakes there really isn't anything a player can do to control how many runs he scores. The fact that Jimmy Rollins scored 100 runs with an OBP the same as Cesar Izturis' (he scored 34 runs in '09) proves to me even more that runs don't mean anything.
But not only does Rob Dibble not grasp this simple concept, he also doesn't grasp math. His main point was 100 runs vs 76 runs. He didn't know or perhaps didn't care that Rollins had 100 less plate appearances in 18 less games in '08. He didn't take into account that when you play less games you have less opportunities to build a stat like runs. So even if we lived in some crazy fantasyland where players could be accurately judged on the amount of runs they score, the difference in Rollins' '08 and '09 is negligible at best.
Someone pays Rob Dibble to talk about baseball. Amazing.
I was already feeling a little road rage-y this morning thanks to the ridiculous traffic and sitting there listen to Rob Dibble drone on about this nonsense almost sent me over the edge. My condolences go out to Nationals fans who have to listen to this man on television every day.