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Henry Schulman: My Least Favorite MLB Sportswriter

I'll admit that at my core, I'm a San Francisco Giants fan.  So why haven't I watched them play for several years?  I can't stand the way the team is run.  They hit a real performance peak in 2002, losing in the World Series, and since then, GM Brian Sabean has shown a complete inability to understand what the team needs in order to win.  We've been treated to annual free agent spending sprees that usually net aging veteran "leaders" whose actual skills don't benefit the team on the scoreboard.

This week, I had the misfortune of accidentally reading Giants water-carrier and beat writer Henry Schulman's screed entitled:

"Memo to people who keep saying Fred Lewis should start in left field because of his high OBP: ENOUGH!!!!"

1. "Lewis had difficulty playing the easiest of the three outfield positions"

Really?  By what metric?  Fangraphs shows him playing 1628 innings in left field in his career at +11.5 runs.  So Lewis, far from being a disaster in LF, is worth one win per season on defense.  Even if UZR is way off on this one, it's pretty hard to argue that Fred Lewis' defense is below-average in LF.  I'm guessing Schulman thinks Lewis sucks because he made 11 errors over those 1628 innings - he needs to consider the other 400 plays that Lewis did make.  Focusing on successes instead of rare mistakes is hardly sabermetrics.

2. "Strikeouts? Oh yeah: 84 of them, probably half of them looking. Let me let you digest this."
Schulman goes on to say that Lewis can't hit outside pitching and admits it and that Lewis walks come from him not bothering to swing at pitches he can't hit.  So it's not because Lewis does something well, but because pitchers do something poorly.  Sure.  But even if that's true, does that mean Lewis is less likely to swing at a pitch in the strike zone or less likely to make contact with it than anybody else?  Well, Fred Lewis has a profile that's very similar to Matt Kemp, even if their results aren't particularly similar.  I have a feeling that striking out looking is not a danger sign for hitters and costs your team very little - remember, if you strike out, you can't hit into a double play like Bengie Molina does.

3. "given his struggles this spring, it is hard to make the argument for him as a backup."

Fred Lewis has a .775 OPS in 1048 plate appearances, but I think we'll throw that out the door because he hit .231 with four home runs in 39 ABs this spring.  You know, Derek Jeter hit .231 with zero home runs in 52 ABs this spring.  What does that mean?  Cap'n Jetes is finished?  When you're a sports reporter looking for a reason to hate on a player, small sample sizes are always convenient.  Every player in the majors has hit .231 in a 39-AB stretch in their careers - are they all doomed?

4. "It pains me to see a publication like this look so foolish."

Schulman is talking about Sports Illustrated here, but he should really be a bit more introspective on this one.

Look, I don't think anyone's arguing that Fred Lewis is an All-Star.  But he's still cheap and he looks to be a league-average left fielder.  A real team would focus on what a guy can do instead of focusing on what he can't.  And a real journalist wouldn't just parrot the negative things Giants' GM Brian Sabean thinks about Fred Lewis - he'd put some thought into what he's saying and end up, more often than not, attacking not the players but the GM for his terrible decisions.


I told Mr. Schulman to "Get a Brain Moran" (in quotes to make it obvious that it's a "quotation").  It went over his head - has any baseball fan seriously not seen this photo?