May 1, 2012, 12:03 PM EDT
Ryan Braun hit three homers last night and, after a tumultuous offseason that had many people worrying about his prospects for 2012, he’s right back to MVP form, hitting .294/.347/.647 with seven homers and sporting an OPS+ of 167, which is exactly what he finished with last season.
But there is still some surprise about all of this. Here it is, voiced by Buster Olney:
During spring training, several pitchers mentioned to me that they thought this could be a really difficult season for Ryan Braun because of the departure of Prince Fielder … they all had the same theory: Because Fielder no longer hits in the lineup behind Braun, this makes it easier for opposing pitchers to follow the best-possible approach (in their eyes) to attack the Milwaukee left fielder … when Fielder was in the lineup, there was always this fear that if you nicked Braun, then you’d be setting up the big man in the lineup behind him.
Question: why wouldn’t Olney’s response to this be “man, these pitchers I talked to are dumb”? Because as study after study has shown, the notion that one player protects another in the lineup like these people think Fielder protected Braun is a total myth. Really: coaches, broadcasters, reporters and players will all go on about lineup protection over and over again, yet there is no empirical evidence that it exists.
I don’t mean to pick on Olney here, or the pitchers he spoke to. But I do wonder why in baseball, unlike in almost any other endeavor, people who stand to benefit most from specialized knowledge or research never seem to know about it.
And actually, I would guess Olney does know about it. Just that he’s understandably not going to challenge his sources with it, which could be construed as calling them ignorant or whatever. Still, it’s kind of annoying to see this sort of thing perpetuated.
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 13
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak: Matt Adams out 3-4 months, possibly the year, with torn quad 37
- Bryce Harper leads in the first round of National League All-Star voting 28
- Buster Olney: The Marlins should hire A-Rod to be their next manager 46
- Breaking down the Braves-Dodgers trade 19
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 34
- So that Juan Uribe trade to the Braves is back on … 11
- Ruben Amaro apologizes for comments about fans, admits he may have been late on rebuild 24
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (133)
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights (96)
- Ichiro Suzuki passes Babe Ruth on the all-time hits list (76)
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights (71)
- Ruben Amaro dismisses fans who “bitch and complain” about the Phillies’ moves (71)