Rites of Spring Day Three: PHI@CIN

Given the unique opportunity of being thisclose to so many superstar athletes, so many promising prospects, I could pretty much write about anything I want.

I could write about how good Wes Helms looked.

I could write about the potential upside and downside of trading Chris Duncan for the reliable Jon Lieber.

I could write about the unique, dilapidated charm of the Reds’ spring training facility and how darn nice all the ushers were.

I could even live up to our byline and write about some idiotic sports story in the news right now.

But no.

I’m going to write about a random fan who ruined today’s game.

One of the Phillies hit a long fly ball down the first base line, and Reds right fielder Norris Hopper ran it down for an impressive out. An old fat guy several rows behind us commended Hopper on his hustle, and I, the snickering sabermetrics subscriber, cleared my throat, ready to make an easy joke about scrapiness or scraptitude or whatever you want to call it.

But before I could, the aforementioned geezer (we’ll call him Aloysius) unfurled a doozy, literally taking the words right out of my mouth:

“You’d never see Adam Dunn do that.”

I was literally about to say the exact same thing in an overly ironic, boisterous tone. You see, it’s funny because Adam Dunn is REALLY GOOD. Let’s look at Dunn’s stats from 2006, a relatively disappointing campaign:

In 160 games and 561 at-bats, Dunn had a .234/.365/.490 line with 24 doubles, 40 home runs, 112 walks, 99 runs and 92 RBI. True, he led the league in strike-outs with 194 but he gets on-base at such a good clip that it doesn’t matter. All in all he was worth a .290 EqA and 4.9 WARP3.

Here are the numbers for Hopper, the gritty scrapster who hustled to make something happen:

In 111 games and 429 at-bats split between AA and AAA, Hopper had a .340/.376/.389 line with 13 doubles, 4 triples, 0 home runs, 26 walks, 54 runs and 10 RBI. He only struck out 28 times, but . . . he had 17 extra base hits. And none of them were home runs. I don’t know his EqA or WARP3. Those stats are only for players good enough to be in the majors.

So a minor-league singles hitter with no power and no patience at the plate is more deserving of praise than the Reds’ best offensive producer.

Aloysius, you are an IDIOT.

And other Reds fans: why was I the only one applauding when Dunn came to bat? I don’t expect every baseball fan to understand complex Prospectus-type stuff, but isn’t it reasonable to think a person with half a brain could understand why Dunn and Pat Burrell are extremely valuable to their respective teams? Lookin’ at you, Mike Schmidt. Jim Edmonds was practically the same hitter (if not a little better), but he’s never had these perceived “hustle” issues in St. Louis, of all places.

So anyway, that’s how an old douche spoiled a otherwise pleasant NL ballgame. Tomorrow we make the switch to the east coast, and then it’s time to get really excited as we follow the Cardinals until Sunday.

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