Great Moments in Straw Man Arguments: Jon Heyman

18 Comments

SI’s Jon Heyman was the first major national writer to weigh in on the Ryan Howard contract the other day, tweeting his strong approval of the pact. Today he has a lengthy column up elaborating on his support for the deal.

There are some passable, though ultimately unconvincing (in my view) arguments in the piece, but there was also one ridiculous passage, the sort of which causes so many people to want to lay into Heyman they way we so often do:

Everyone agrees that home runs are an important stat, but to those who
believe RBIs are only a reflection of one’s teammates, and thus pure
luck, here are the top five RBI leaders since 1900: Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial. Five very
lucky fellows.

Heyman knows full well that no one argues that RBI are “only” a reflection on one’s teammates or that they’re “pure luck.”  The argument is that RBI are dependent upon one’s teammates and a function of opportunity, thus they do not isolate a player’s individual value, thereby allowing you to do things that are dependent upon knowing one’s individual value like, say, figuring out what you should pay a guy or voting for him as the MVP.

Put differently: you still have to be able to hit the ball to get the RBIs, but even if you rake with the best of them, you’re not going to get a ton of RBIs if your teammates don’t get on base. Ask Mickey Mantle, who drove in 100 runs only four times and stands at a mere 50th on the all-time RBI list, right behind Carlos Delgado at 49.

Surely Heyman doesn’t believe that Delgado was better than Mantle, does he? Of course he doesn’t, because he’s not a dumb guy. He’s just a guy who can’t resist taking a shot at modern statistical analysis whenever the opportunity arises, and that’s what he’s doing here.

Nolan Reimold retires

Getty Images
2 Comments

Former Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold has retired, Michael Pfaff — president of the Long Island Ducks — announced on Twitter on Sunday.

Reimold, 33, was hitting .238/.359/.397 in 78 plate appearances with the Ducks. He was coming off of a disappointing 2016 campaign as a reserve outfielder with the O’s, finishing with a .664 OPS.

Over parts of eight seasons in the majors, Reimold hit .246/.323/.422 with 56 home runs and 174 RBI.

Mike Trout sprains thumb, to undergo MRI on Monday

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
2 Comments

Angels outfielder Mike Trout sprained his left thumb and had to leave Sunday’s game against the Marlins. He underwent an X-ray, which revealed no fracture, but he is set to have an MRI on Monday for further evaluation, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.

Trout went 0-for-2 with a walk before exiting. The reigning AL MVP is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Needless to say, losing him for any amount of time would be a devastating loss for the Angels, who are 26-27 and tied for second place in the AL West.