After watching nearly two hours of baseless, soul-trying-to-watch competition that is the home run derby, I got into discussion with a friend about Jeffery Robert Bagwell becoming the Astros hitting coach. I got the standard "oh, it's a nice PR move yada yada yada" schpeel from the Ranger's fan and I did not protest or even really react. At this point, I still have no real feeling about the announcement other than excitement that Bagwell's name is in the headlines again. Whether this is an example of Drayton McLane using hirings and firings to pull the proverbial wool over the flock that are Astros fans or not does not excite me. Let Justice rail on that one to drum up controversy.
As my friend and I quickly went back into our malaise of having to listen to Joe, Boomer, and Bobby V drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about the "fun" these guys were having and how "beautiful/impressive/artful" their swings are in forty five different—yet too similar—ways, I started wondering about the move. Although my sojourn through Texas on Sunday precluded me from weighing in, it was widely discussed amongst ourselves that Sean Berry was perfectly content to not push pitch selection/patience at the plate. Bagwell was not that kind of a hitter. His .408 career on-base percentage certainly speaks to that fact, as does Berry's .334.
I have often wondered why it is that great hitters don't become hitting coaches with Evan. We have always concluded it is because great hitters made enough to live leisurely through retirement where as mediocre ones did not. This is never a scientific or an actually informed discussion; just ramblings amidst our current complaint about the Astros to one other (if there were ever way to get transcribed records of our conversations, we would probably lose all credibly with you as we schizophrenically vacillate between saber-slanted objectivists to pure, unadulterated irrational fans every other minute). Evan and I's throw away meme seemed overly alluring, though, as Joe Morgan and Boomer said their thousandth asinine, factually incorrect statement of the evening.
When I actually pulled up Baseball Reference to ensure that Berry was not an OBP machine and that Bagwell was, more gears started turning in my turned to mush brain. I honestly wondered if I were to query Boomer or Joe about Jeff Bagwell coming in to spell Sean Berry might lead to the ridiculous conclusion that the Astros hitters would take on Baggie's characteristics.
I then translated that imaginary assumption into a concerted conviction of determining what a corresponding percentage increase of the Astros OBP would be.
And I am going to do just that. Not because I feel like there is any value in what the exercise will reveal, but solely because I want to memorialize how terrible the commentating was during the home run derby. I feel like this scene from Billy Madison should have come on as a PSA from ESPN after the mockery of an event finally ended.
So Sean Berry had a .334 OBP for his career and Jeff Bagwell a .408. The percentage increase I'll calculate then is 18%. That will the allow for us to calculate the Astros new bOBP (Bagwell OBP). I calculated the change with Bagwell's OBP as the base solely because I wanted the numbers to end up somewhat reasonable. Again, I have no real interest in these numbers other than the "it could be fun" allure of crunching them.
That would give then Astros a team OBP of .349. In common parlance, that means the Astros would stop being such a terrible offensive team. In fact, in terms of OBP, they would be the third best team in all of baseball. I know that this all imaginary, but pause for a moment and close your eyes as you imagine what watching an Astros baseball game would be like if the decision to make Jeff Bagwell the Astros hitting coach would actually result a .349 OBP. How great would life be?
Obviously Jeff Bagwell becoming the hitting coach over halfway through the season will not bring about such a drastic change. My ire with the misery that was the home run derby and the strange way I have decided to air it aside, I do want to know if this move will actually change in anything for Astros' hitters? I don't want this to come off as some kind of rhetorical or sarcasm-barbed question. I am truly curious as to whether we think that Berry's public statements about not being concerned with plate discipline actually translated into changed approaches at the plate from Major League Baseball players? And would it then follow that Bagwell's patience might then change the well entrenched skill sets of some of the Astros hitters? These questions have been talked around or at, but not with the sharpness I would like to focus it. So please- discuss. Lord knows that after the brain melt that was the home run derby we could use some lively, enlightened conversation.