Here's the Jays' bench in 1993 when they won the World Series:Bill – I know Joe Carter would register a high overrated score; it’s hard to make a case that he wasn’t overrated while active. Having said that, besides his good luck in the teammates who hit in front of him, the other big factor in his annual 100+ RBI was his durability, and obviously that was a good thing. He was a known known, and I think you wrote in one of the Abstract how valuable that was to an organization. I also started wondering—and I guess I’m asking you to speculate on the dreaded intangibles here—if his teammates looked at him like "Joe’s our RBI guy, we can count on him," and if that has value too? Or were they, playing alongside him every day, more likely than anyone to be aware of his limitations?
Asked by: Phil Dellio
Well. . I know for certain that some of Joe's teammates recognized and were annoyed by Joe's limitations. But whether those players were representative or not, I couldn't say.
I think what you're referencing is something that I wrote about Nolan Ryan. 40 years ago, you needed PITCHERS that you could count on to make their starts and pitch their innings. 50 years ago, teams had 9-man pitching staffs; 40 years ago, 10 or 11 man pitching staffs, and players didn't bounce up and down between majors and minors the way they do now. With a 10-man pitching staff, you really need to have 2 or 3 starters that are GOING to be out there and make their starts. A left fielder or right fielder. . . well, you've got other guys who can do that. Joe Carter misses a game, you've got somebody who can play the position and hit; probably he is either a better outfielder than Joe or has a higher on base percentage or something, so that the team is better off without him in one way or another, although maybe less well off in another way.
Christ, imagine looking at those chuds and thinking there's guys who can "play the position and hit."
Here's Joe Carter's stats in the two World Series that he played in that the Jays won:Now, since teams have 13-man pitching staffs and 3-man benches, it is different; you can juggle the pitchers better than you can the lineup.
Teams do start to unravel if you don't have anchors. Any sport, any level, I think; if you don't have anchor players that you can count on, you're going to find yourself just scrambling day to day, trying to pull something together, and that isn't going to work for very long. A guy gets red hot, you think you can count on him, then a weak later he's hitting 4th for you and is 0-for-4 and you're in a slump. But also, I think, you don't want TOO many anchors. The old 1930s lineups where you have 8 guys who play every game except that you give the catcher 1 or 2 days off every week. . .that's not really workable in the modern world. You need to give everybody on your roster a chance to contribute, or they're not going to be there when you need them.
So what I am trying to get to. . . I'm not sure I would generalize about the subject in the same way that you are generalizing about it. I'm generalizing about the subject, obviously, but I'd follow a different path toward a broad, general understanding. And following that path, I don't know that I would want Joe Carter to be an anchor player.
There is one stat missing from the above, which is "Number of Home Runs Hit When Behind To Completely Win a World Series and Walk Off the Other Team" and I guess the reason that stat isn't there is because only two guys have ever been clutch enough and enough of an "anchor" in the history of baseball to ever fucking do it.
The other thing that drives me crazy is that I watched a couple of Jays teams that didn't have 100 RBI guys, the 2007 and 2008 teams. They would walk plenty and do what they needed to to get on base and extend innings and Jesus fucking Christ they needed someone batting fifth or sixth every day who would actually take a swing and drive guys in if it meant that they hit a sac fly. The RBI has no predictive value but a good team needs someone that can drive runs in. The argument against RBIs has gone so far in one direction that it has become a joke at this point.
(Again, I know nobody here cares about any of this.)