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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sports Illustrated’s 400-Homer Balderdash
On CNN/SI recently, David Sabino, in his Diamond Digits column, suggested the fact that some recent sluggers have 400 home runs with less than 2000 hits was evidence of the taint of the steroid era.
The first thing that comes to mind is that Sabino was pretty lazy and actually looked at career totals. Sabino actually seems amazed that a player with 400 home runs would have fewer hits than a player with 500 or 600 home runs.
So, how many career hits does a player typically have when they hit their 400th home run? This would be the natural question raised, but the author may have been too busy loudly proclaiming the preconceived point he set out to prove in his best, strident, talk radio tone of voice, to take on the dual role of being a responsible analyst.
To take a quick look at this, I took all the 400 club members and their career hit totals on the day they hit their 400th home run. Where game logs aren’t available, I calculated a rough estimate based on their end-of-season totals.
So, where does Giambi fit? As it turns out, slightly lower than the middle-of-the-pack. Clearly, with 8 of the 17 hitters finishing their careers before the current offensive era (and 7 of 17 playing large chunks of their careers in the 60s and 70s), the number of hits 400-homer hitters have seems to be a very poor way toidentify eras tinged with a steroid taint.
Looking at the lists order, you essentially have a list of players ranked on their “raw power” from lower-power 400-club members to higher-power ones. Of course, that’s hardly surprising - if you had me and an Olympic sprinter both run a mile and count how many breaths we each took, I will have taken in a lot more oxygen than the sprinter, simply because it took me a lot longer. That wouldn’t be proof that Olympic athletes don’t take in enough oxygen vis-à-vis overweight guys who drink too much beer, that would be proof that faster things are faster. Duh.
If Sports Illustrated wants to remain relevant, they need more Posnanskis and less Sabinos.
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