December 17, 2006


Baseball stats guru sees good in Phillies, even Burrell (Todd Zolecki, 12/17/06, Philadelphia Inquirer)

[T]he real Moneyball man is Bill James, the influential baseball statistician (or "sabermetrician") who has written dozens of books and changed the way many people understand and think about the game. James is a senior baseball operations adviser for the Boston Red Sox.

Time magazine this year listed James on its "Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World." His Bill James Handbook 2007 is currently available. James spent a few minutes on the phone Friday with The Inquirer to share his thoughts:

Question: Much has been made in Philadelphia this off-season about who should hit behind Ryan Howard. The Phillies wanted Alfonso Soriano, but it looks like it could be Pat Burrell again. Is the importance of protection for a hitter overrated?

A: It is overrated. I know people talk about it, but there is no evidence anywhere that proves that having a more capable hitter behind a hitter in a lineup will dramatically improve that hitter's performance... . I don't know what kind of year Howard will have next year, but if I was projecting that on one hand he had Albert Pujols hitting behind him and on the other hand Corey Patterson is hitting behind him, I project his numbers to be the same either way.

Q: What do you think of Pat Burrell?

A: As a hitter I like him a lot. He's an underrated hitter. I know he's not Bobby Abreu. He's not really much of a baserunner or a fielder or a thrower, but as a hitter, he changes the scoreboard. I like him. [...]

Q: There's been an argument made that this lineup has too many strikeouts. Are strikeouts a lineup killer as some suggest?

A: Well, am I imagining this or did the Phillies lead the league in runs scored?

Combine these and you get the logical question: why don't the Sox trade Manny for value and then magnanimously take the Burrell contract off the Phillies' hands?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 17, 2006 12:00 AM
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