Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Those who fail to learn from history . . .

By now the refrain is familiar to all. Long and loud is the chorus of Chicken Little's insisting that this Jays offense is all that there is going to be, and there shall be no more. "DOOMED!" they cry fully convinced that no team with an offense this weak can possibly hope to contend for a playoff spot. It's a forgone conclusion, a fait accompli, it's set in stone, all the king's horses, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Ah, the voice of ignorance. Whatever it lacks in wisdom, it attempts to compensate for in volume.

I, however, recall a team, not so very long ago, who put the lie to such fatalism in a way which is strikingly relevant to our current situation. The similarities are well worth noting.

This offense of ours, bemoaned in story and song as being beyond hope, posted, collectively, for the moths of April and May, a disappointing line of:

261 - .323 - .378 - .701

But this other team, of which I am thinking, actually preformed worse than that, over the first two months of the season:

.239 - .299 - .377 - .676

On June 19, as you might imagine, that team was sitting a miserable fifth place at 28-39 - only four teams in the majors had a worse record.

On that team, as on ours, a player who was arguably their best hitter missed all of the month of April, but unlike Scott Rolen, when this man came back he struggled through the month of May too, posting an OPS of .662 in that month.

On that team, as on ours, another player counted on to be a star bat missed a big chunk of May, but he would go on to miss most of the season.

Their catcher was an offensive zero the whole season, as was their shortstop. One of their three starting outfielders never got his OPS over .700 and the hitters who substituted for the injured star make Brad Wilkerson look like a Hall of Famer. They did have two players in their twenties step up and have career years, one hitting .924 and the other .815 - but both those young men had one very bad month in the first two months of the season.

That team, gentle reader, is the 2005 Houston Astros. You remember those, the 89 game winners who won the NL wild card that year? and went to the World Series? The team that played .642 ball from June 19 until the end of the season with that pathetic offense?

Yes, they had three remarkable starters, but the other two were either mediocre or outright awful. And there bullpen was not as deep as ours.
That injured star? Jeff Bagwell - he finished the year with 100 unremarkable AB;
The guy who missed April and sucked in May? That was Lance Berkman - he finished the season with an OPS of .934;
But more to the point -the third highest OPS on the team was Jason Lane's .815! The sixth highest among players who played at least half the Astro's games was Eric Brumlett's .705!!!

EVERY TIME that team took the field, there were - at best! - two very good hitters, two reasonably good hitters, and five virtually empty bats.

So, all you negative-ass fuckers chew on that shit for a while. this is baseball, damnit - weird fucking shit happens every day. Deal with it.

Oh, and by the way, the Baltimore Orioles were sitting in first place on that same day, with the third best record in baseball at 41-27. From that point until the end of the season they went 33-61 and finished in the basement. It ain't over 'til it's over. Quitcher cryin' little girls.



g said...

i basically agree with you, but you don't help your argument at the end of your spiel when you say that "weird shit happens" in mlb. that seems to imply that it would be weird or unexepected if the jays could pull off the same feat as the 'stros. this would then make the chicken littles the realists and those holding hope the less reasoned class of fan. just sayin'

eyebleaf said...

just when i'm about to lose ALL hope (this game against milwaukee blows serious COCK)...you go and reel me right back in...so, umm, thanks!

go jays.

The Southpaw said...

Well, I guess...but the intended implication of "weird shit happens" is that it is admittedly weird that a playoff team would suck much of the first half of the season and then roll like gangbusters in the second half. But that sort of thing happens all the times so "weird" in the abstract turns out to be perfectly normal in major League Baseball.

But I see your point.

sp said...

Yea..OK, but they kinda had Lance Berkman who is kinda awesome. And Ensberg was another 140 OPS+ guy for them that year. Do we have two guys like that, or even one? Maaaaaaaaybe Wells can go 130 but with his wrist? Rolen seems to have lost his HR power but it's possible I guess. Stairs possibly but doubtful to repeat again. Rios certainly has talent but not 140 OPS talent. Plus the Astros were in a really weak WC chase that year. There was only one other contender. We have two WC competitors in our own division.