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.