Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has not enjoyed the month of June. Not only are his Phillies stuggling and sitting dead last in the NL East 29-37, on June 5 Jose de Jesus Oritz of the Houston Chronicle reported that Amaro and his front office staff may have accidentally traded prospect Domingo Santana to the Houston Astros in the Hunter Pence deal back in 2011.
Not surprisingly, Amaro quickly denied that report, but he can't deny the confusion that abounded during an appearance in the Phillies TV booth on Thursday. In said appearance, Amaro did not seem to fully grasp the basic differences between a plate appearance and at-bat and how they effect stats such as batting average and on base percentage. The confusion stemmed from Philadelphia's broadcast team noting that Jimmy Rollins was approaching Michael Schmidt's team record for career hits — which he ultimately surpassed in a very cool moment on Saturday — to which Amaro replied.
“Yeah, we were checking it out. In fact Schmitty was in the booth yesterday when we were talking about it, and, um, I think it's about a thousand difference in, ah, plate appearances. Pretty amazing. But their batting averages aren't that different, which is kind of… weird. I don't quite understand it.”
At a time when Phillies fans are looking for reasons to have faith in Amaro, that might just crush all hope.
At the time of the conversation, Rollins was sitting on 2,233 hits in 8,323 at-bats, which is good for a .268 career. Schmidt finished his Hall of Fame career with 2,234 hits in 8,352 at bats, which is a .267 batting average. It's undoubtedly amazing that the averages are so close, but there's nothing confusing about either average. In fact, the math is actually quite simple.
Where it becomes complicated for Amaro, apparently, is when he starts lumping in both players career walks, sacrifices and hit-by-pitch totals, which count toward their plate appearances and career on base percentage, but have no influence on batting average. Schmidt, one of the greatest and most respected power hitters in MLB history, walked 784 times more in his career than Rollins has to this point. That explains again, without any confusion, why Schmidt has a significantly higher on base percentage.
You almost hope that Amaro somehow misspoke, but this is about as basic as it gets when it comes to figuring baseball stats. It also sounded like it was something he'd already put a lot of thought into and still didn't grasp, which probably led to thousands of palms hitting foreheads in Philadelphia.
Not good, but at least he's working in one of the more forgiving sports towns.
Oh, right. Really not good.
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