Singleton Said What?

Between a few errands yesterday, I happened to catch one of those ESPN baseball analysis segments in which a series of supposedly interesting questions are analyzed from all angles until the viewer walks away with an extreme understanding of the subject. Or maybe the opposite. I can’t remember. Anyways, the analyst was Chris Singleton, whom I actually feel has the best presence on-screen and is the smoothest of the bunch, generally offering good insights. Something he mentioned on this particular segment, however, made me cringe.

They were showing a highlight of the DBacks-Rockies game in which Adam Dunn grounded out to end the game in a clutch spot. Singleton started by mentioning how tough of a plate appearance it was with so much at stake and Brian Fuentes—who hides the ball very well—on the mound. So far so good. But when Chris got into his overall evaluation of Dunn, despite presenting the information in a smooth manner, it came off as nothing more than generic announcer-talk that exhibited next to no knowledge of what he was discussing.

To paraphrase, he essentially said that while Dunn will hit homers he will also strike out quite a bit… and because of the strikeouts he’ll post low on base and slugging percentages.

What!? Seriously?

So, does that mean that Hanley Ramirez is posting low on base and slugging percentages? As Dave showed a couple of days ago, these players have virtually identical OBP and SLG numbers over the last two years. Why would Singleton say this? If he meant to say that, because Dunn strikes out so much it prevents him from getting more extra base hits and more opportunities at reaching base, then it would make at least some sense… except that would mean Dunn would be a completely different player. Basically, there really is no justifiable reason to make this comment other than having no idea what you are talking about.

His OBP is virtually the same as Chase Utley, who by all accounts gets on base at a very decent clip. His SLG is higher than David Wright’s and virtually the same as the aforementioned Ramirez as well as Prince Fielder. In fact, Dunn and Fielder have very similar OBP and SLG numbers despite Prince’s forty point advantage in batting average. If Dunn was striking out a ton and producing a .230/.320/.430 slash line I might be able to understand Singleton’s point of view, but his actual line is .234/.373/.525.

His OBP and SLG may be lower than his counts last year or a few years ago, but they are not low.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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Announcers should really be forced to take a Sabermetrics 101 class or three. It’s one thing for the ex-players to discuss things like team chemistry, hitting mechanics, or what players might be thinking, but when they venture out of their area of expertise it’s really quite annoying. Many of them seem to operate under the assumption that playing the game means they have complete understanding of how it works (Morgan being the classic example).

As a Reds fan, I saw Dunn get run out of town by Marty Brennaman, with Jeff Brantley piling on until his “Encarnacion is NOT clutch” foot-in-mouth moment shut him up. It really is a buzz-kill when you get bombarded with such bad misinformation. In few other professions are people allowed to get away with being blatantly wrong, misleading their audience so long as they can keep their attention.