Local curmudgeon Patrick Ruesse posted his annual “Turkey of the Year” column late last week, and it is a doozy. I was originally going to take the high road, but you know us kids, we get bored so I decided to call him out. He only has one point that I want to address, his labeling Joe Caas a “2009 Special Turkey Guest”. I’ll let Mr. Ruesse dig his own grave:
Joe Christensen. Gentleman Joe is a Star Tribune baseball writer and also the Twin Cities’ leading advocate for OPS, a make-believe number that Bill James acolytes have embraced. How often must we say this, Joe? Runs scored and RBI mean something; OPS doesn’t.Um, yes it does Patrick. It means “on base percentage plus slugging percentage”. I know this is beating a dead horse, but it must be done. OPS has been widely accepted for most of this decade as an excellent way to measure a hitter. Peter Gammons, possibly the oldest man alive, often quotes it for his pieces on ESPN. A network also know as the World Wide Leader in Sports. World Wide!!!
I can’t imagine if someone tried to use WAR and VORP in front of Ruesse. He would do one of two things: Freak out, or make a terrible Star Trek joke. There are many advanced baseball metrics that even I think are a little much, but from a math standpoint OPS is just as simple as batting average. I am not sure what RBIs measure other than how many times a guy comes up with runners on. A hitter has no control over that. Unless you are playing with like 4 guys like you did in grade school and have “ghost runners” and you can drive yourself in.
Ruesse just needs to accept that baseball is a heavily statisticized sport, and we will continue to develop more advanced (and better) metrics to evaluate players and teams. He hasn’t done this, and calling one of his co-workers a “turkey” because he has is just insane. Batshit crazy even. “‘Get off my lawn!’ journalism” at its finest.