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Omar Vizquel, Babe Ruth, and the all-time hits list

Sep 17, 2012, 12:16 PM EDT

billboard hits

I’m sure Omar Vizquel fans will be angry about this comparison, but it’s not so much about him as it is me trying to point out the silliness behind acting as if “hits” are a good way to gauge someone’s overall ability as a hitter.

Anyway, yesterday Vizquel notched his 2,871st and 2,872nd career hits, meaning he’s just one hit shy of tying Babe Ruth on the all-time hit list with 2,873.

That’s a helluva accomplishment any way you look at it–particularly for a shortstop with a billion Gold Glove awards–but consider this: Ruth has 2,073 more total bases and 1,029 more times on base while making 2,664 fewer outs than Vizquel.

Not all hits are created equal, walks count for something too, and Babe Ruth was really friggin good.

  1. proudlycanadian - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    It is not any more silly than the Jeter passes Mays in base hits story. Mays hit with a lot more power, was better on the base paths and was a much better fielder than Jeter.

    • braddavery - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      Silly? No one said Jeter is better than Willie Mays because he has more hits.

    • johnchesterny - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      “better on the base paths”?…how so?

      • proudlycanadian - Sep 17, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        Much faster. Mays could steal whenever he wanted.

      • johnchesterny - Sep 17, 2012 at 9:51 PM

        “Much faster”? How much faster?

  2. elmaquino - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Is “helluvan” a word?

  3. Lukehart80 - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    So Omar Vizquel is NOT Babe Ruth’s equal???

    Just about any statistic is silly if examined in complete isolation from any other data.

  4. megary - Sep 17, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    All right all of you….whoever thought Omar Vizquel and Babe Ruth were essentially the same player raise your hand?

    C’mon now….

    Anyone??

    Silly post if you ask me.

    • Brian Donohue - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      The above is a good example of why I typically read 10 comments to every 1 post here. I’m not sure how happy the writers are here generally — maybe GE pays lousy — but if I wrote here I’d light votive candles everyday in thanks for being given thoughtful, insightful readers who keep me honest and gently slap me back into line when I’m not. I’ve written online regularly for 9 yrs. and I can’t over-emphasize the rarity of a smart audience.

    • chumthumper - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Gleeman just needed a filler post.

  5. paint771 - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    This is a total straw man, and unfair to Vizquel. You’re basically inventing an argument that nobody is making – that the total hit list is a measure of how good a hitter a player is – and then layering it on top of a situation where it isn’t even being discussed. The hit list is a simple fact, not an argument, and noting that Vizquel (or Jeter) have played long enough and been productive enough to make their way up that particular ladder is worth noting. But have you seen a single person, ANYWHERE, make the argument that this proves Vizquel is a better hitter than Ruth? (and I haven’t seen it for Jeter/Mays either, but knowing New York, you could probably scrounge up a blog post here and there for that one). Is your argument going to be that we should stop counting hits? Then why bring it up? Save as an opportunity to point out Vizquel’s historically relative crappiness to defend against an argument you just made up, which, again, seems pretty unfair to Vizquel in this context.

    Dude’s put together a lot of hits in his career. That’s cool.

    • paperlions - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      If no one is making the argument, then why is anyone making the comparisons?

      To me, the comparison is an attempt to make the argument…or at least to get a foot into the door of making the argument.

      The original comparison is a lazy and dumb one. Craig was just point that out.

  6. donkastain - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Omar has always, and will always be my favorite player. I would love to see him in the Hall for selfish reasons, but I don’t think he will be.

    • natstowngreg - Sep 17, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      If Bill Mazeroski (career .260/.299/.367) can make the Hall of Fame for his exceptional defense, Vizquel (career .272/.336/.352) can make it for his exceptional defense. Most likely, it will take a long wait and a vote of the veterans’ committee.

  7. hushbrother - Sep 17, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    He has made a lot of outs. In fact, at this moment Vizquel is tied for seventh all time, with Dave Winfield (8,422). But hey, just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Dave Winfield …

  8. theutilityman - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I don’t see how you can possibly measure someone’s overall ability as a “hitter” unless you use the counting stat “hits.” Does being a productive “hitter” automatically mean a player is a good overall “producer” or “offensive player?” Not necessarily. It just means someone hit the ball into fair territory a lot without that ball landing in someones glove or finding it’s way to first base before the batter.

    But to say that you can’t use the very thing you are counting to define whether or not someone is good at that thing, is mind-boggling. I like advanced stats, too, but to completely dismiss one of the most fundamental parts of the game rubs me the wrong way.

    • paperlions - Sep 17, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Seriously? That is like saying TLR is the 2nd worst manager of all time because he is 2nd in losses as manager….the very thing bad managers do, lose games.

      Counting just means they did it a lot (like being in the top 10 in out making, hint: making outs = bad at hitting), not that they did it well.

  9. spudatx - Sep 17, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Yeah, but I bet Omar couldn’t have gotten there with the same blood alcohol level as the Babe.

    • jkcalhoun - Sep 17, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      Peak value or career value?

  10. watchfullhose - Sep 17, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    You can measure SOME batters by total # of hits….but not when you’re looking down the list as far as #42.

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