Schmidt's Analysis Hits Home

Schmidt's Analysis Hits Home

Mike Schmidt offered an analysis of what is ailing Pat Burrell and it turns out that the numbers tell Schmidt's story. The only problem is that Schmidt never learned the lesson as a player and isn't in a great position to be throwing stones.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Mike Schmidt stepped out of his glass house and lobbed a few stones the other day criticizing Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn for striking out so much. But just how much glass does Schmidt's house have? Is he in a position to be chastising other players about whiffing too much?

The point that Schmidt was making is that he learned too late in life what young players like Burrell and Dunn should be learning. He admitted recently that he too struck out too much and wasn't as much of a threat at the plate as he could have been. In fact, he went so far as to say that pitchers of his day wanted to see him at the plate with the game on the line because they knew they could strike him out since he would try to do too much. If he had it to do all over, Schmidt insists that he'd be more patient at the plate, choke up with two strikes and just look to put the ball in play. He predicted that both Burrell and Dunn - and others of their ilk - could add 15 homeruns and as many as 35 more RBI to their totals if they adopted a more disciplined approach.

So how do Burrell's numbers stack up against Schmidt's through their first seven seasons? We decided to take a look and compare the two hitters at similar points in their career. We didn't count Schmidt's late season audition in 1972 since it was just 13 games. Instead, we started from 1973 and went through Schmidt's 1979 season and took Burrell's career numbers starting with his debut in 2000.

 

SEASON PLAYER HR RBI AVG AB R H BB KO AB/KO OBP
First Schmidt

Burrell

18

18

52

79

.196

.260

367

408

43

57

72

106

62

63

136

139

2.70

2.60

.324

.359

Second Schmidt

Burrell

36

27

116

89

.282

.258

568

539

108

96

160

135

106

89

138

153

4.16

3.52

.395

.346

Third Schmidt

Burrell

38

37

95

116

.249

.282

562

586

93

96

140

165

101

89

180

153

3.12

3.83

.367

.376

Fourth Schmidt

Burrell

38

21

107

64

.262

.209

584

522

112

57

153

109

100

72

149

142

3.92

3.77

.376

.309

Fifth Schmidt

Burrell

38

24

101

84

.274

.257

544

448

114

66

149

115

104

78

122

130

4.46

3.45

.393

.365

Sixth Schmidt

Burrell

21

32

78

117

.251

.281

513

562

93

78

129

158

91

99

103

160

4.98

3.51

.364

.389

Seventh Schmidt

Burrell

45

29

78

98

.253

.258

541

462

109

80

137

119

120

98

115

131

4.70

3.53

.386

.388

TOTALS Schmidt

Burrell

224

188

627

647

.256

.258

3679

3527

672

530

940

907

684

588

943

1008

3.90

3.50

.375

.364

As you can see, the two have some pretty similar numbers. Schmidt showed more patience at the plate, but had 25 more intentional walks than Burrell has through the same amount of seasons. Schmidt walked once every 5.38 AB while Burrell walks once every 6.00 AB. Burrell does strike out a little more often, but as Schmidt pointed out, knowing what he knows now, that may have been a different story. By the time Schmidt's career was over he had struck out once every 4.44 AB showing that as he got older he didn't get wiser. For the record, Adam Dunn has struck out once ever 3.06 AB in his career.

The odd thing about Schmidt's analysis is that he left out Ryan Howard from his critique. The young left-hander strikes out once every 3.17 AB, slightly worse than Burrell and more than an at bat per strikeout worse than Schmidt by the time the Hall of Famer's career was over. Of course, Howard is so young that perhaps Schmidt figures many of those strikeouts are attributed to youth, although the numbers are still higher than Schmidt or Burrell in the early parts of their career. It could also be Schmidt's frustration with Burrell since he has had many counseling sessions and coaching sessions with the beleaguered left fielder.

Here are career AB/KO numbers for select players.

PLAYER HR RBI AVG G AB R H BB KO AB/KO OBP
Hank Aaron 755 2297 .305 3298 12364 2174 3771 1402 1383 8.94 .374
Barry Bonds 734 1930 .299 2860 9507 2152 2841 2426 1485 6.40 .443
Babe Ruth 714 2417 .342 2503 8598 2175 2873 2062 1330 6.46 *
Willie Mays 660 1903 .302 2992 10881 2062 3283 1464 1526 7.13 *
Sammy Sosa 588 1575 .274 2240 8401 1422 2304 895 2194 3.83 .345
Greg Luzinski 307 1128 .276 1821 6505 880 1795 845 1495 4.35 .363
Ryan Howard 82 217 .304 266 932 161 283 143 294 3.17 .399
Chase Utley 75 285 .290 444 1602 273 464 158 303 5.29 .362
Jimmy Rollins 84 391 .274 952 3997 630 1095 319 555 7.20 .329
Aaron Rowand 66 258 .279 688 2052 314 572 114 386 5.32 .334

* OBP stats and some of the stats used to compute them weren't kept when Babe Ruth and Willie Mays were playing.

Ironically, many of the "old-timers" had much better career AB/KO numbers than today's players. Hank Aaron struck out just once every nine at bats, which is an amazing number compared to many players of today. Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays also had huge numbers, much more comparable to today's lead-off type hitters, than the power hitters of today. Schmidt's comments are certainly played out in the stats of the top homerun hitters of all-time, since only Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa - the most recent on the homerun hitters list - are under the .300 mark in career batting average. Yes, it was a different era and a different game, but it's not too difficult to see what Schmidt was talking about in his analysis.

 

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