Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Scrappiest, Grittiest Player Who Ever Lived

I shall call him Mini Me. 
In Jon Heyman's recent article, he has this to say about David Eckstein:
"A two-time World Series champ, this all-time scrapper is a big plus for any clubhouse."
Excuse me.  A little vomit just came up into my mouth, and I need a moment to compose myself.  Ok.  I'm good now.  
I don't want to sound bitter and jaded, but give me a break.  Any time some baseball writer uses the terms scrappy, gritty, or hungry, it usually applies to some undersized white middle infielder that has found success in the Major Leagues despite the overwhelming odds against them.  Yawn.  You'd think that journalists, masters of the written word, would be able to avoid the tiresome cliches that plague the rest of the general public.  Sadly, they're not.  
Heyman is correct on one thing:  Eckstein is a two time World Series champion.  I'm not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China, but he seems to think it means something.  People, in particular fans and baseball writers, seem to forget that baseball is won and lost by the sum of it's 25 roster parts, not one player.  Luis Sojo won four World Series as a backup infielder with the Yankees, but does that make him a great player?  No.  It just makes him a player that happened to play on some great teams.  We can't deny their contributions to these championship teams, but we also can't pretend that either player was the primary reason for their team winning said championships.

Plain and simple, Eckstein is overrated.  He's below average offensively (.316 wOBA, -54.5 wRAA for his career); and while he's played at two defensively challenging positions (SS and 2B), he's been below average defensively (-14.2 UZR).  Sure, he's been durable, but durability only gets you so far.  I understand his appeal.  As sports fans, we love the underdog.  At some point though, we need to wake up and realize that sometimes they players we consider underdogs, just aren't that good.  

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