While speaking to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, Milton Bradley, now of the Chicago Cubs, made a couple noteworthy comments regarding not only his time as a member of the Texas Rangers but also his theory on statistics and playing time. Before adding any personal opinions or commentary, here are the quotes of interest:
“My agent was saying that Jon Daniels was telling him, ‘There are days when he doesn’t want to play because of his health.’ Well, you can get a healthy guy to go out there and play 162 games, but he won’t do what I did in 120.”
“When you’re on one-year deals constantly, you’ve got to put up as good numbers as you can. When you have days where you’re not feeling like you can contribute, you’re not going to go out there, because you’re not going to want your numbers to suck. So, if you’re in a situation like I am now, if they want me to go out there when I’m feeling a little banged up, I’ve got no problem doing that because they’ve made the commitment to me.”
Let’s go one at a time, starting with the top quote. Bradley seems to be bitter that the Texas Rangers showed little interest in retaining his services beyond the 2008 season, and lost his temper upon hearing the remarks of his general manager. The line about his 120 games outperforming 162 of others is incredibly cocky but it also reeks of truth.
If you take the 126 games Bradley played in 2008, which produced a win value of +4.5, and slotted in the -0.3 win value that comes from prorating Jeff Francoeur‘s season to 36 games, the resulting +4.2 wins still exceeds the wins added totals of both Josh Hamilton (156 g) and Ryan Braun (151 g). I always find it humorous that people are criticized for pointing out something similar to Bradley’s self-assessment, especially if it is true.
Perhaps the cockiness overwhelmingly turns off those offering the critiques, but why is it if a player makes a comment like that it becomes blasphemous, yet if I point it out in an article it gets lauded as interesting? Of course a difference exists in the routes taken by both myself and Bradley in offering up the information, but because Bradley presented his case without humility he is very likely to get panned by the media and the casual fan.
Now, Bradley’s second quote does not evoke the same sort of defensive response, because it comes off as largely hypocritical. He is essentially claiming that he took days off when under 100% in order to preserve statistics. This preservation would, in theory, lead to lucrative contracts via free agency. I’m definitely a proponent of players taking days off when hurt because an injured player is more likely to hurt his team than help, but front offices might actually interpret his actions differently, choosing not to commit based on an attitude that puts statistical preservation above the team.
I’m not saying he is right or wrong, because these comments could easily sway to either side. Milton failed to mention that his proneness to injuries also turns teams off from committing, as do his perceived attitude problems. Sitting out of games intentionally for the sake of keeping your numbers high is equivalent to getting a triple-double in basketball by purposely missing your own shot to grab a rebound. If Bradley needed some time off to heal, then by all means he should because, with health, he is an incredibly talented player and it would benefit his employers to keep him on the field as often as possible.
The Cubs have made a commitment to Bradley, but statistical preservation issues aside, he just is not very likely to be on the field all too often given his track record and the fact that the senior circuit will require his presence in the field. Bradley is, in my eyes, the most talented player of the last ten years who truly deserves to sign one-year deals each season.
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