Monday, May 3, 2010

Over Reliance on Metrics and Ryan Howard

I just finished reading this article in yesterday's New York Times titled Length of Deal Highlights Howard’s Flaws by Dan Rosenheck. In the article, Rosenheck details how Howard's recent contract extension of 5-year $125 million places him in the game's elite in terms of salary but by comparison via the multitude of metrics afforded to the followers of baseball he is firmly in the second tier. As I've said before, sometimes the over reliance on metrics strips away the true value of a player to his team, the team's fans and the city it represents. Sure, compare Howard to Pujols and he'll come up short in the majority of metrics, but that's not a knock on him almost every player (if not all players in the league) will fall short.

Take the example of Derek Jeter. On many metric scales Jeter falls mid range if not lower offensively and defensively. But there is no denying what effect he has on his team, its fans and the city of New York. The man has the intangibles that seem to rise to the surface almost on cue based on the moment. So should the Yankees not sign him to a decent deal based on what he means to the team or based on a logarithm or a detailed statistical forecast. In no way am I discounting these methods of statistical analysis, but I believe that good old blood and guts should also factor into the decision of any team resigning their best player. Both Jeter and Howard bring that to their respective teams.

Getting back to Howard, will he become a player who remains consistent like Hank Aaron (I'm not comparing their stats, just Aaron to Howard as a potential model of consistency) or will he become this generation's Mo Vaughn, Travis Hafner, David Ortiz, Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder and John Jaha (players who he closely resembles as per baseball That truly remains to be seen. But I believe that by the year of 2016 (which is when the extension ends) Ryan Howard will be among the Phillies greats loved and adored by the Phillies faithful as is Schmidt and Carlton.

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