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The fallacy of lost home runs

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

How many times have you heard that the Cubs 'lost' 74 home runs over the offseason? If I were Antonio Alfonseca, I would have run out of fingers and toes to count on a long time ago, even with the 20% bonus.

Player Name "Lost" Home Runs
Moises Alou 39
Sammy Sosa 35
Mark Grudzielanek 6
Ramon Martinez 3
Alex Gonzalez 3
Rey Ordonez 1
Paul Bako 1
Damian Jackson 1
Total 89

Well, somebody had the audacity to mention this "fact" to me again yesterday, and I'm tired of hearing about it. For one, its completely stupid from a mathematical viewpoint, and second, it assumes that Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa, a year older, would have continued at the same pace as they played last year.

Let's first look at the 74 in the above offending statement. 74 = 35 + 39 = # of home runs hit by Sammy and Moises. But what about Mark Grudzielanek, Alex Gonzalez, Ramon Martinez, et al? Looking at the table at right, we see a listing of all the players who hit a home run for the Cubs in 2004 that are no longer on the roster. So, if we are going to define "lost" home runs as dingers hit by players no longer on the team, then the Cubs "lost" 89 round-trippers over the offseason.

But, any fair representation of the decline in power the Cubs suffered due to roster changes ought to include the number of home runs hit last year by players who are now on the roster this year.

Over the offseason, Jim Hendry was pretty quiet in the free agent market. Instead, he chose to bring back several players who had served partial stints with the Cubs last year (Nomar, Neifi, Ben Grieve, etc.) He also decided to go with some farm hands, such as Jason Dubois. All of these players are excluded from the list of "found home runs."

Player Name "Found" Home Runs
Jeromy Burnitz 37
Henry Blanco 10
Jerry Hairston Jr. 2
Total 49

In fact, Hendry only added three position players who did not play for the Cubs last year: Jeromy Burnitz, Henry Blanco, and Jerry Hairston Jr. These three players combined for 49 home runs in 2004.

Therefore, a fair statement would be this: Due to roster changes, the Cubs current roster hit 40 fewer home runs in 2004 than the team actually did in 2004.

However, even this interpretation is inherently false. For instance, Jason Dubois hit 1 home run in 23 at-bats during his September call-up. Although he's been relegated to the bench for much of 2005, Dubois has already hit 4 home runs in only 35 at-bats. Its quite possible that Dubois could end up hitting about 20 home runs this year.

So, to wind up, the Cubs did not lose 74 home runs in the offseason. They "lost" 40. Secondly, you can expect certain players to hit more home runs in 2005 than they did in 2004... and some players will hit fewer. In my opinion, the Cubs will probably hit about 20 fewer dingers in 2005 than they did in 2004... but 20 is a far cry from 74, 89, or even 40.

Posted by Byron at May 11, 2005 1:04 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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Personally, I don't care if we lost 400 home runs. Sosa and Alou were negative players who made me ashamed of being a Cubs fan. I would rather have a mediocre team but have fun playing then a "successful" team that's always bellyaching.

Well, I think you got your mediocre team. Personally I don't find them much more fun to watch, but I think that has something to do with all the losing.

That being said, I don't miss either player. I think, what with the steriod testing and all, the number of homers would be down anyway, so we don't need those extra 40 homers.

wait a minute...

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