How’s this for junk science – even with three baserunning awards and trips to the All-Star Game and World Series, Devil Rays catcher Dioner “The Fat Catcher” Navarro has been labeled the worst baserunner in baseball.
But the numbers prove it, Bill James says in The 2009 Bill James Handbook. Bill James is a Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations for (of course) the Boston Red Sox.
Using a complex statistical method, James concluded The Fat Catcher was baseball’s worst baserunner in 2008.
Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts said the James “system does an excellent job of identifying the best and worst baserunners.”
Willy Taveras, who did not play in the All-Star Game or the World Series in 2008, was ranked the best baserunner in baseball.
But Devil Rays fans scoffed at the notion.
“I don’t know what Bill James is smoking,” said Devil Rays fan Tommy Rancel, 32. “That’s preposterous. I completely disagree. The Fat Catcher’s a clutch player.”
“It’s ridiculous,” said fan Erik Hahmann, 22. “Navarro is all-around awesome. He’s better than A-Rod any day. Character has a lot to do with it. He’s out there for his teammates, not just himself. He does it for the good of the team. That’s the kind of guy you want on the bases. Do you think his teammates and manager would drink Bud Light out of his jock if he was a crap baserunner?”
James looked at how often runners:
- went from first to third on singles to the outfield,
- scored from second on singles,
- scored from first on doubles,
- moved up on a wild pitch, passe ball, balk, sac fly or defensive indifference
- were doubled off base
- ran into an out
- GIDPs in GIDP situations
- stole bases
- got caught stealing
Fans though said Navarro’s greatness goes beyond the numbers he produces on the base paths.
“The Fat Catcher has intangible qualities that can’t be measured with statistics,” said Tampa bar owner David Bloom, 28.
“He’s the ultimate teammate. It doesn’t matter what his percentages are when he’s making big plays in big games. He’s the one with an All-Star appearance and a pennant.”
“I would disagree [with the study] of course, Navy does a good job,” said Pam Lips, 28. “Varitek is OK but I would take The Fat Catcher over ‘Tek.”
“The worst? That’s not true,” Cork Gaines said. “He’s a good baserunning catcher.” He even said he would never pinch run for The Fat Catcher.
As Devil Rays fan Jessica Thompson, 32, said, it’s about who’s good in May, and who’s good in October.
Here’s my original* take on the situation:
You know what? I really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give a damn about Bill James and his stats. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care if the book is called The Baserunning Bible! For crying out loud, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care if there is a page in the Holy Bible titled Ã¢â‚¬ËœDioner Navarro sucks at baserunning.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
I really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care about this argument anymore. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tired, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s old, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crutch for bored bloggers without anything original to write about. All you have to do is write Ã¢â‚¬ËœDioner Navarro sucks at baserunning’ and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s guaranteed to create a fight. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s utterly and completely meaningless. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been debated into the ground. There isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t an original thought to be had on the topic.
Let it go already. Find something else to talk about.
Here is what I know. The Fat Catcher was an All-Star and led his team to the World Series. His baserunning had a lot to do with those accomplishments. He has been compared to Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. He has a ticket to Cooperstown already punched. He will be remembered as one of the most important Devil Rays of all time. There isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a general manager in the major leagues who would turn down an opportunity to have Navarro on his team. Those are the things that matter. At least to me.