A Little too Long

An unsympathetic piece by Bill James on Craig Biggio, an erstwhile favorite, is excerpted on Slate, and worth a read. Biggio, the ultimate overachiever, somehow managed to turn off James by extending his career. I wish James had shown a bit more empathy for Biggio; it would have made for a better piece. But it’s honest, no question.

8 comments… add one
  • This is the part of baseball in this day and age that I do not like. Everything is based on numbers, rather then letting what you see and how you feel help you decide. It’s too black and white with some people. Remember this is a game played for our enjoyment. I think sometimes we forget that. As for Biggio sticking around too long and for personal reasons, that’s fine by me in his case. He gave everything he had to that club, so what if he stayed around a year or two too long. He was good for the club, the fans loved him and he played hard all the time. There is more to this game then simply what numbers a player can put up. There is value beyond that.

    John - YF February 26, 2008, 12:20 pm
  • I am hesitant to even click through. I love and respect Bill James, but I also feel like Craig Biggio was a tremendous ballplayer, and I am not that interested in seeing someone as smart as James tell me why I shouldn’t respect him nearly as much as I do. I can’t decide. Click, not click, click, not click…

    SF February 26, 2008, 12:59 pm
  • My takeaway on that article is that James paid generous respect several times to Biggio, accentuating at least once when thinking about Biggio in a career sense that “doing the numbers” is not necessarily the right way to judge the player.

    attackgerbil February 26, 2008, 1:14 pm
  • Craig Biggio is a personal favorite of mine, so it could be a slight overreaction on my part. When he announced his retirement last season I remember being sad not because his career was over, but because he never got to play here in NY. Biggio has a ton of NY based fans from his time spent at Seton Hall. All in all I am sure he was much appreciated for all he did in Houston by Astro fans.

    John - YF February 26, 2008, 1:19 pm
  • I clicked through. I think that’s a pretty balanced piece, and, as YF says, very honest. It wasn’t quite what I expected, and James reveals himself to be a real fan, not just a number cruncher. Thanks for the link, YF.

    SF February 26, 2008, 1:45 pm
  • Yeah, the headline — and James himself at the beginning of the piece — seems to overplay the actual amount of weight given to Biggio’s hang-around time.
    If anything else, it seems Biggio lost some luster because everyone else began to realize what James had known all along. That’s definitely an understandable feeling. When everyone and their mom knows what you used to think was the coolest secret about such-and-such a player, it’s harder to feel a personal connection to that player.

    Paul SF February 26, 2008, 3:07 pm
  • “I’m not picking on him, I hope, but the reason that Biggio struggled in clutch situations and against good pitchers couldn’t be more obvious. He was an overachiever, and he knew what he was doing. Against a weak pitcher, a pitcher not really in command of his material, Biggio could take control of the at bat and drive it toward a good conclusion. When the pitcher was not really focused, Biggio was.”
    I thought this was such an interesting point, and one of the reasons that James is consistently fun to read. I’m not sure I agree with this “obvious” conclusion, but it does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it? It would be interesting to see which players have similarly dramatic splits against bad/good pitchers. What if someone we viewed as an underachiever put up numbers like Biggio. Would that change our perception of him?

    Nick-YF February 26, 2008, 5:56 pm
  • You know Nick I was thinking about the same thing. Problem is there are too many variables to his argument. He uses ERA as the measuring stick and well…but also where he hit in the lineup (especially in the NL effects his average) game situation, etc…there then just he hit .____ against bad pitching Vs. ._____ against good hitting.

    John - YF February 26, 2008, 6:15 pm

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