I didn’t think Bryan LaHair, one of 2012’s most pleasant surprises thus far, was a polarizing figure, but apparently someone out there is slamming him, because FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi felt the need to chime in with this:
OK, so what Morosi is getting at here is that the fact that LaHair has just 22 RBI to go along with his 10 homers this season isn’t his fault.
Except it kind of is.
LaHair is hitting .367/.436/.689 with seven homers in 90 at-bats with the bases empty this season. With runners on, that drops to .233/.347/.433 with three homers in 60 at-bats. With runners in scoring position, it drops further: .171/.348/.286 with one homer in 35 at-bats.
That’s why LaHair has so few RBI: the bulk of his production has come with no one on base.
Now, does that mean LaHair is a bad player? Of course, not. It hardly necessarily means he wilts in the clutch, either. Part of it is likely a fluke. Another part of it is likely that he’s had some tough left-handers brought in to face him in big spots. LaHair, a left-handed hitter, is hitting .136 against southpaws, compared to .344 against righties.
Also, when LaHair does get to face a righty with men on base, he’s probably being pitched a little differently. The spike in his walk rate suggests that pitchers are being more careful with him in those situations. I imagine Morosi was factoring that into his statement above and not just complaining that LaHair wasn’t getting the chance to hit with men on base.
My feeling on the matter is that Morosi should have just stopped seven words in: LaHair’s value can’t be measured by RBI. Because it’s stupid to try to measure anyone’s value by RBI alone. I don’t believe LaHair is here to stay as one of the NL’s better hitters, but it’s pretty crazy that anyone might think he hasn’t been an asset thus far.
Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.
Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:
Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.
He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.