Cooking the Stats

Let me start by offering congratulations to David Ortiz for his 500th home run. It’s quite an achievement. In the history of Major League Baseball 26 other men have done it out of the thousands who’ve played. Last night ESPN kept running a note across the bottom of the screen reminding us he’d done it. They also kept telling us that he joined Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson as the only 500 home run hitters with three World Series championships. And it’s that I want to deconstruct.

It’s true as far as it goes, but it’s another case of ESPN cherry-picking stats. Others do it too (heck, I’ve done it) but ESPN seems to take great delight in doing it. I got an idea, ESPN, let’s change just one number, just a little. How’s about guys with 500 home runs and four championships? Geez, that leaves Ruth, Mantle, and Jackson, doesn’t it? Better idea, how about guys with 500 home runs and five championships? Same list as four, right? Want to stretch it out to six? That leaves out Reggie. And seven? How about eight? At eight we lose everybody because both Ruth and Mantle have seven.

Or we could move the home run number a little. How about 525? That leaves out Ortiz. 550? Now we’re down to Ruth and Jackson. 600? Just the Babe. And if we add another qualifier, say batting .300, then again it’s just the Babe.

My point is that Ortiz has just accomplished a great feat and to me it gets somewhat diluted by making these kinds of artificial comparisons. Celebrate the feat, guys. Congrats, Papi.


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4 Responses to “Cooking the Stats”

  1. Miller Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I love Ortiz, but he really isn’t part of that group except by the odd definition used by ESPN.

  2. Allan G. Smorra Says:

    Excellent point. Ahhhhhh details, details…

  3. William Miller Says:

    Nice point, V. He’s had a fine career, but no, he’s not in the same category of greatness as the others you mentioned.

  4. wkkortas Says:

    ESPN is notorious for that type of data-slicing; they decide that someone is having an epic season/run of years/career, and they find some unrelated and less-than-meaningful combination of “milestones”, and throw that out as proof that someone belongs in the conversation with Babe Ruth and Teddy Ballgame. It’s transparent, and it’s embarrassing to the WWL.

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