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2002/06/12

Russell Redux

Just wanted to note that Three True Outcomes is not intended to be the Grand Unification Theory of modern baseball. It’s really just a novelty stat, but sometimes even novelties can be illustrative. Sorry if I misunderstood your post, but TribeScribe West has been heatedly debating the merits of small-ball with a transplanted Reds fan. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to expound on the effect of the strikeout on team run production and something you said just set me off. My intention was to point out that even the most extreme hitters can be productive relative to the league without putting the ball in play, not to lobby for the immortal Dave Nicholson’s election to Cooperstown.

Even though I have largely been denied the opportunity to watch Russell “Special K” Branyan strikeout these past two seasons of living in the Pacific Time Zone, I think I can appreciate the frustration you feel. What differentiates Branyan from Thome is not the Ks or the homers – they both go yard every 18 PAs and whiff every 3-4 PAs. The difference is Thome’s plate discipline. Thome walks every 6 PAs while Russell only walks once per 10 trips to the plate. You don’t need the numbers to know this, but this is the root of my frustration. With a little more selectivity, Russell could have been the next great Indians slugger.

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