The culmination of a once little boy’s aspirations coming to fruition. An everlasting feeling of triumph after being impugned by the masses. A feeling of nobody, or nothing being able to abase the full scope of what you accomplished. The moment and celebration spoke for itself; the Boston Red Sox had stunned the world and won the 2013 World Series championship. Tears of joy, screams of happiness, words of utter disbelief and awe-inspired behavior derived from the heat of the moment and the seemingly infinite roar of the crowd. And yet, after all of this, Jonny Gomes found it to be the ideal time to bash sabermetrics.
“There’s a lot of sabermetrics, there’s a lot of numbers and stuff. The whole WAR stat. But when you go to playoffs, you want me to go to war with.”
That was what Jonny Gomes had to say to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal immediately after the team, not just Gomes and his .118 batting average and .580 OPS in the World Series, collectively won the coveted 2013 World Series. It seemed to be a peculiar and ill-timed statement — especially considering Gomes is employed by one of the more prominent advanced statistics-driven ball clubs in the Red Sox. Let’s not forget, he also was a member of the A’s and Rays, too, who are notorious data-driven franchises. With that being said, it would be very outlandish that three teams who base their decisions by statistics would want him. Here is what he had to say to Nick Carfardo about sabermetrics:
“There’s no stat for winning player,” Gomes said. “So it gets brushed under the rug. They talk about a player’s WAR [wins above replacement]? Well, how about a team WAR? I’ve turned a team around 20 games four different times. Worst to first. I was on a Tampa team that was historically bad in 2007 and then went to the World Series in 2008. The Reds hadn’t been in the playoffs for many years.
“When you’re building a team, I’m last on the list because, when the lights go out, you don’t see the player grind out at-bats or run hard to first base every time. Or see the player respect the game and his teammates . . . or see the way the player approaches the game, the work ethic.’’
Jonny, why do you think sabermetrics were put into place? The “little” things that you mentioned, like grinding at bats or value on the base paths or on defense, is the reason that WAR and other advanced statistics were created. This stuff was not quantified 10-15 years ago. Sure, intangibles have a source of value that may get underplayed a bit in the today’s era of baseball, but I would rather have a guy who is actually producing with palpable evidence than one who makes his living with a firm handshake and sporting a cool beard.
Secondly, Jonny, you are underrating yourself in today’s terms of statistical analysis. Why would any of the three most prominent sabermetrics teams want you, if you were really that bad in the world of advanced statistics? The truth is, you’re a very sought after and coveted bat to any team. Your career line at .244/.335/.452 is very beneficial to a team. It is true that your WAR does not profit from your lethargic defense and lackluster base running but you have to admit that these facets of the game are not something you particularity thrive in.
I was elated when it was disclosed that you were going to be taking your bat to Boston. You had hit for a staggering .262/.377/.491 slash line the year prior to joining the Red Sox, and you did your mashing in a tough pitcher’s park in Oakland. I could not wait to see how those numbers would translate into the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park. Also, when it was revealed that you were going to be doing your mashing against predominately southpaws, I was predicting mind-boggling offensive production courtesy of Gomes’ big bat. None of this came to reality, as you hit for a mediocre .247/.344/.426 clip. Honestly, these numbers were not that bad by any measure, but certainly something that was unexpected.
WAR was not created to irritate players, it was devised so front offices can do their job better. It is the lone stat that takes into account offense, defense, and base running and even though it is not ideal because it does leave out the intangibles, it is a much more a sophisticated approach than gauging value using traditional statistics. Using these methods helps front offices do their job to the maximum capacity and I highly suggest that you direct your focus to your job, and that is the great game of baseball. With all this being said, there are 25 men on a team, Mr. Gomes, and to say that you “turned around” franchises by your lonesome is ludicrous — especially when you batted .182 the year the Rays shockingly went all the way to the World Series. You’re a very good player, with a lot to offer, but you’re dead wrong with your summation of the “uselessness” of sabermetrics.