We rarely stray into sports here at Pileus unless there is a political or economic issue at stake. However, Sven did so once here. So why not. Here’s some weekend sports fodder as baseball (the greatest sport ever conceived) winds down its regular season:
Jason Stark at espn.com has a post up at his blog imploring us to take seriously Matt Kemp’s pursuit of the first Triple Crown since 1967. But should we get all worked up about this? Stark seems to think so. He sets it up by noting how long it has been since anyone won a Triple Crown and that it has been a really long time since someone did the trifecta in the National League. Then he states this: “So don’t ask us why more people aren’t worked up about Matt Kemp. Can’t explain that. But it’s time to start paying attention — close attention —
because Kemp has put himself in position to actually pull this off.”
Well, Kemp’s quest for the Triple Crown isn’t unremarkable. However, I think the explanation for why people aren’t all that worked up about it is that serious baseball fans don’t consider the Holy Trinity of stats that make up the Triple Crown to be all that holy anymore. When was the last time you saw a real student of the game make a big deal out of batting average or RBI (at least alone)? Instead, these analysts (and their “sabermetrician” friends) focus on more refined statistics to judge the value of batters, fielders, and pitchers. And that is a pretty easy answer that explains the “problem” Stark has identified.
This is not to say Kemp isn’t having a heck of a year. Indeed, he is having a stellar year that should be getting more press (and probably isn’t because the Dodgers stink and he plays on the left coast). Kemp’s Wins-Above-Replacement (WAR) is 9.6 and his Runs Created is 132. Indeed, he’s rated 102nd all-time in terms of WAR (according to Baseball Reference). But it isn’t his pursuit of the Triple Crown that we should be focusing on. It is this great year period that is borne-out by more than the pretty lame indicators of BA, HR, and RBI.