Dallas McPherson makes a rehab appearance with Rancho Cucamonga in August 2005.
I’ve been slapping around Matt Hurst of the Riverside Press-Enteprise for losing his objectivity when writing about Ervin Santana, so I won’t hesitate to call on the carpet another sportwriter for treating his readers as if they’re stupid.
Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke writes in today’s column that the Angels won’t go to the World Series because they’re basically a toothless wonder.
I, too, had been enamored all season with Angels baseball. But watching the Angels lose the first two games to the Boston Red Sox in this division series, it again became apparent that more is needed.
During the last three trade deadlines, more was needed. During this winter, more will be needed.
General Manager Bill Stoneman’s resistance to deal for a slugger didn’t stop them from winning a division title. But, once again, it’s probably going to prevent them from winning a ring.
Once again, it became apparent that this gentle summer brand of Angels baseball is not necessarily the power brand of October baseball.
First off, let’s remind Mr. Plaschke who won the World Series last year — the 82-79 St. Louis Cardinals.
The multi-tier playoffs are a crapshoot. This year’s NL representative will be either Arizona (90-72) or Colorado (89-73). Many mediocre teams have gone to the World Series since MLB went to this format, and some have taken it all.
But let’s specifically address Plaschke’s theory that the Angels are on the brink now because they don’t have a bunch of power hitters in the lineup.
Scioscia desperately pinch-hitting for his catcher in the middle of an at-bat because he knew of no other way to get the runner home from second base, that’s not October baseball.
Vladimir Guerrero getting drilled on the shoulder by a kid who has not thrown one wild pitch in his 106 1/3 career innings but obviously figured no other Angels bat would make him pay, that is not October baseball.
Three extra-base hits in two games, nine runners stranded in scoring position with two outs, that’s not October baseball.
The dramatics of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, that’s October baseball.
I wonder if Plaschke is watching the other playoff series, between the Indians and Yankees.
New York has the most powerful hitter in all of baseball, Alex Rodriguez. They also have Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.
The Yankees were better than Boston in slugging percentage (.463 vs. 444), on-base percentage (.366 vs. .362) and runs scored (968 vs. 867).
Yet the Yankees are down 2-0 to Cleveland.
So much for power equating to "October baseball."
But let’s get down to the bottom line, namely the ability to score runs.
Home runs are very pretty to watch, get people excited and make it easier for a sportswriter to find the lead for his story. But if your team hits three solo home runs and loses 4-3 to a team that scored four runs without a dinger, what does it matter? You still lost.
A couple years ago, I came up with a stat I called Run Efficiency. It’s a simple concept — take the total number of plate appearances (TPA) by a team’s offense in a year and divide it by the total number of runs scored (R). TPA/R = how many batters a team has to send to the plate to generate a run.
I compared the Red Sox this year to the Angels, and here’s what I came up with:
Red Sox 7.41
That’s a difference of .13 batters, hardly of significance.
So basically Boston had to send 7.4 batters to the plate to generate a run, while the Angels had to send 7.5 batters. The two offenses are pretty much equally productive.
Plaschke goes on to write:
You want postseason homers? Despite its reputation for purely smart baseball, that 2002 team also hit postseason homers.
Troy Glaus — why did they dump him again? — had seven homers. Salmon had four homers. Adam Kennedy, remember, had three homers in one game.
Why did the Angels "dump" Glaus?!
Dallas McPherson, that’s why.
The Angels did not "dump" Glaus. He left via free agency after the 2004 season.
Waiting in the wings was the far more affordable McPherson, who’d just hit 40 homers between Double-A and Triple-A. He was named the Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News and Topps. At age 24, he seemed ready for the majors, while Glaus was coming off a string of injuries which suggested a long-term investment in him was not prudent.
Nobody on this planet has a crystal ball that works (even Mr. Plaschke), therefore no one could have foreseen the injuries that would befall Dallas.
In spring training 2005, he missed most of spring training due to back spasms and started the year at Salt Lake to play his way into shape. He returned to Anaheim but continued to suffer, and went on the disabled list July 8 with left hip inflammation. Dallas appeared in a rehab stint with Rancho Cucamonga in August, but realized he couldn’t play through the pain so on August 30 he underwent surgery on his left hip. I recall reading an article that winter which said he was in a wheelchair for a month after that surgery, and had to learn how to walk all over again.
McPherson began 2006 at Triple-A Salt Lake to play his way into shape. The season was spent shuttling between Salt Lake and Anaheim, as lower back spasms would keep shutting him down. Dallas hit 17 homers in 56 games for the Bees, and got into 40 games for the Angels. Of his 30 big-league hits, 11 were for extra bases — seven homers and four doubles.
On January 22, 2007, Dallas underwent major surgery to have a central disk herniation removed from his lower back, and shaving of bone spurs. He’s spent the year once again trying just to get into some semblance of physical shape.
McPherson played in his first game on September 21, during a fall instructional league game. He was in the lineup at third base, and played the first three innings. In two at-bats, he doubled and grounded out to drive in a run.
In his second game, Dallas homered, walked and singled. Click Here to watch Dallas’ homer. (You need Windows Media Player and a high-speed Internet connection to watch the video.)
Instead of pretending Dallas McPherson doesn’t exist, Plaschke could at least acknowledge the suffering and dedication it’s taken Dallas to get to the point where he can even play competitively.
The Angels had a very good reason for not re-signing Glaus. Fate intervened.
The Yankees traded Wally Pipp after Lou Gehrig played his way into the lineup. If Gehrig’s ALS had manifested itself not in 1939 but in 1926, the year after he replaced Pipp, would a time-travelling Plaschke pretend Gehrig never existed?
No doubt Yankees fans of that era would find Plaschke an insult to their intelligence if he had.
Will we ever see Dallas in a major league game again?
But you don’t keep your subscribers by treating them as if they’re stupid.