If you find yourself nodding in agreement to Uncle Griff's mailbag every Wednesday, odds are you've got a bee in your bonnet about "clogging the bases" (amongst other things). Here's a recent example from today's Star:
Q: I love the column Richard. I cannot understand why the Jays always talk about batting
Jason MacDonald, Amherst
A: The days of Overbay batting second are over. Last year, it was an early season plan because they wanted a lefthanded bat near the top of the order and believed that when the other team’s first baseman was holding a runner on, Lyle could shoot groundballs through the hole on the right...
Frank Thomas... has clogged more arteries on the basepaths than a diet of buttered bacon and poutine...
And so on. There's something like this every week. Like clockwork.
I really don't have the energy to take Griffin's mailbag apart piece by piece, but I would like to address the "clogging the bases" issue with some numbers. I'd also like to bring it to your attention that USA Today has a really excellent stat site that I had a bit of fun mucking about with this afternoon.
In the AL:
There really aren't any black and white answers that immediately jump out. Aside from the the worst base-clogging team in the league going on to win the World Series that is. And the worst offense by leaps and bounds also happening to have left the fewest number of men on base...
Dividing the AL into halves, the top seven base cloggers accounted for the first, second, third, sixth, eighth, nineth and eleventh best offenses in the league. The bottom seven base cleaners accounted for the fourth, fifth, seventh, tenth, twelvth, thirteenth, and fourteenth best offenses in the league.
There are abberations in each group, Oakland and Baltimore in the former, Los Angeles and Texas in the latter, but as a whole, the base cloggers stack up better than the base cleaners.
In the NL:
The numbers over in the Senior Circuit are considerably more clear cut. Again, the division between good and bad offenses isn't perfectly defined, but base clogging teams as a whole again tend to be better than base clearers.
The base clogger group has the first, second, third, fourth, sixth, eighth, tenth, and thirteenth ranked offenses. The base clearer group has the fifth, seventh, nineth, eleventh, twelvth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth ranked offenses.
You get the picture...
Maybe Uncle Griff will considering enjoying a nice plate of buttered bacon and poutine with the crow he's eating for supper tonight.
-- Johnny Was