ESPN.com features an article today that addresses some of the more interesting off-season questions. One such question asks who is more appealing, Andruw Jones or Torii Hunter? An NL executive responds:
“The difference in defense is probably negligible these days,” an NL general manager said. “But offensively, I think Torii is a better player. I’m not sure either guy is what we consider a ‘professional hitter,’ but Torii has a better chance to hit good pitching.” (emphasis mine)
Seriously, that means nothing. Absolutely nothing. That is utter junk, and that GM should immediately be fired. This is the most idiotic baseball quip since Dusty Baker pooh-poohed sluggers who walk because it “clogs up the basepaths.”
Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter are paid to hit and play defense. They are professional hitters. Hitting is their profession. They get paid to hit. Their paycheck and livelihood depend on their ability to hit a baseball. Hitting a baseball is the reason they make money. They are professional hitters.
To be less technical for a moment, I (unfortunately) know exactly what the hell this GM is talking about. I know this because, after watching hundreds of baseball games over the last several years, I have heard plenty of broadcasters anoint certain players “professional hitters.” Over time and without any semblance of an explanation from said broadcasters, I have discovered what qualities it takes to be considered a “professional hitter.” The qualities – typically – are as follows: white, not very good, utility/platoon player, impatient, high contact, no power. The best example I can give would be Frank Catalanotto. This is because, for all four years he was with the Blue Jays and playing against the Yankees in the AL East, broadcasters would – without fail – call him a “professional hitter” once a game.
So, yes, because Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter are black, good, full-time, of average patience, low contact, high power hitters, then they are not “professional hitters.”
I guess my point is, yet again, that this is lazy, horrific analysis. This anonymous GM makes important decisions for a big business, and the best he can muster (on supposedly short notice) is that he’s “not sure either guy is a professional hitter.” That means nothing. Here is what I can muster on short notice: I would rather have Andruw Jones in CF because (a) he is 2 years younger than Hunter (b) he has a higher career OBP and SLG than Hunter (c) his defense is probably a little better than Hunter’s, and at worst equal, which still gives Jones the advantage because he is younger. That’s what I would say on short notice. I may be wrong, but at least the process by which I came to this decisions is reasonably intelligent.
But nope, this GM’s professional opinion is that neither are that great because neither is a “professional hitter.” Amazing.