To Those Who Overvalue Home Runs

Recently, a Philadelphia Phillies “fan” had the audacity to not only criticize John Kruk after being inducted into the Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame, but also insult Kruk on Twitter.  He wrote, “@JohnKruk_ESPN you couldn’t run,field,throw,or hit for power so all that’s left is hit for average which .300avg says that.Is that HOF stuff”

I was amused by how small-minded this “fan” was, so I took the opportunity to reply.  I replied that Ryan Howard cannot run, field, throw or hit for average.  I’ll take a .300 hitter anyday.

Lo and behold, I get accused by this “fan” of being a hater.  I find it ironic that I point out Ryan Howard’s flaws as a hitter and become accused of being a hater; furthermore, the person accusing me of being a hater is one who downplays the accomplishments of another player.  Wow!  Very well.  After I pointed out the strong numbers Kruk posted in other categories (and he bests Howard in those categories), the small-minded “fan” continues to disregard those numbers and continues to downplay the achievements of Kruk.

When that fan ran out of anything intelligent to say – not that he had anything intelligent to start with – he stated that he knows more than I do about baseball because he played “division 1 baseball.”  First of all, having played baseball on a collegiate level does not make you an expert or a good reseacher; secondly:  NOBODY CARES.

I took the liberty of researching the statistics of John Kruk and Ryan Howard’s careers.  Obviously, Kruk does not match Howard in home runs and RBIs.  Kruk was not a power hitter.  Although Kruk was not a power hitter, I would gladly take a team full of hitters like John Kruk as opposed to a team full of hitters like Ryan Howard.  I do not care whether a man hits a baseball 500 feet or 300 feet.  If I’m a manager of a baseball club in a tight playoff game, I want the man who can put the ball in play, as opposed to the man who is apt to strike out.

To see the numbers between John Kruk and Ryan Howard, click here

As you can see from the above numbers, Kruk bests Howard in virtually every category.  Howard currently holds a one-point edge in AVG with runners in scoring position; however, that will likely go to Kruk once Howard ages and declines as a hitter.  As Howard ages and eventually declines, his numbers are only going to get worse.

I do not bedgrudge any Phillies fan for being a fan of Ryan Howard.  I do not begrudge any fan for oohing and aahing over towering home run shots; however, to insult another former player and blindly speak garbage without giving any thought to the numbers to back up one’s argument is laughable.  Any “fan” who does that is not a fan of baseball.

Am I saying that John Kruk is a better baseball player than Ryan Howard?  No.  I am not arguing that one is better than the other; I am merely pointing out the fallacies in the way this other “fan” thinks about the game.  Some people will prefer to have Howard because he can change the game with one swing of the bat; others will prefer a hitter like Kruk for his ability to put the ball in play.

I personally would prefer to have a team full of hitters like John Kruk or Sean Casey as opposed to a team full of hitters like Ryan Howard.  I evaluate hitters based on their abilities, not their fantasy stats (such as home runs and RBIs).  In my research, the best hitter I have ever researched would have to be Joe DiMaggio.  DiMaggio could hit for average, hit for power, run the bases, play great defense and he rarely ever struck out.  DiMaggio hit .325 for his career, reached base at a .398 clip and struck out an average of 32 times per 600 at-bats.

Throughout the course of a nine-inning game and throughout the course of the regular season and the postseason, I prefer hitters who put the ball in play often.  Sluggers like Howard have severe limitations as hitters and sometimes do more harm than good.

If you would prefer to have a one-swing game-changer like Ryan Howard, that is your desire; however, nobody should downplay the achievements or the importance of contact hitters.  Major League Baseball’s sudden resurgence in pitching dominance and the struggles of sluggers like Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla greatly show that contact hitters are not to be overlooked.

Christopher Wenrich is a senior fantasy baseball contributor for BaseballDigest.com and can be reached at philliesmuse@yahoo.com.  You can follow him on Twitter @DuggerSports.

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