Friday, February 18, 2005


There’s a grabber headline for you. It’s not one you’ll often see, but in this case it is correct.

I’m talking what he said years ago about using “reaching base on error” as a statistic. He disdained and dismissed it. I think it would be a very useful statistic for these reasons:

1. Is speed a factor in “reaching?” (I’m going to use “reaching” or “reach” as shorthand for the whole phrase.) If so it would increase the value of speedy runners by a measurable amount.

2. Is there a hitter who consistently is among the leaders in “reaching?” Perhaps one who consistently hits low screamers to the left side? That would be valuable to know.

3. Is there a hitter who is unpopular with the press (think Ted Williams) who “reaches” a disproportionate number of times in his home park? Perhaps the victim of biased scoring?

4. Joe Dimaggio had more home runs than walks one season and more home runs than strikeouts in seven seasons. Wouldn’t a hitter who puts the ball in play that much “reach” far more than the average?

5. The reverse of (3), are there players who hardly ever “reach” in their home park? Who benefit from friendly scoring?

6. Would a hitter who hits into a lot of double plays because he hits hard ground balls also “reach” a lot for the same reason, which would negate the GIDP stat.

I think Bill James dismissed it as a stat because he saw it as a function of chance. He might be right. But if we don’t keep the stat, we won’t know, will we?


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