Just what the hell is this?

On May 27, 2015, the Kansas City Star’s Lee Judge wrote a column headlined “Are RBIs a worthless statistic? Ask Rusty Kuntz.” It is a spirited defense of the RBI as a statistic, and it’s just as bad as you’re imagining it is. But we’re not here to discuss the content of an old and bad baseball column; we’re here to talk about how Lee Judge is the laziest motherfucker on earth.

Today, Judge published a column under the headline “Does it take skill to drive in runs? Rusty Kuntz says yes.” Hey, that sounds familiar. Maybe Judge just really cares about the RBI, though, and has come up with all sorts of other reasons why it’s a great statistic in the last year. No way he just reprinted what is basically the exact same column, right? Let’s check just to be sure a professional sportswriter isn’t really that breathtakingly lazy.

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From the 2015 column:

After reading that comment I decided to ask guys who have played a bunch of baseball what they thought of RBIs: Did it take any special talent to drive in runs? Were some guys better at it than others?

The first two guys I ran into that day were Rusty Kuntz and Rusty Kuntz Jr. — Mitch Maier. (Hey, if Rusty’s going back to the minors next season I’m either going with him or learning everything I can from him before he goes. I don’t want to go to the minors, so I’m sticking with Plan B.) So what about it, Rusty —are RBIs a worthless statistic?

At that point Rusty looked me in the eye and shared his words of wisdom: he told me to get off the grass.

Reporters are allowed to stand on the dirt warning track, but the grass is for players and coaches only. It’s how they get away from reporters like me; they go stand on the grass and if they stand far enough away from the dirt, you can’t talk to them. But lucky for me, if you ask Rusty Kuntz a baseball question, he can’t help himself; he’ll talk to a lamp post, a fire hydrant or a reporter standing on the grass.

From the 2016 column:

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So one day last season I decided to ask people who have played the game what they think about RBIs: did they think it took talent to drive in runs? Are some people better at it than others?

The first two guys I ran into that day were Rusty Kuntz and Mitch Maier. So what about it, Rusty; are RBIs a worthless statistic? At that point Rusty looked me in the eye and shared his words of wisdom — he told me to get off the grass.

Reporters are allowed to stand on the dirt warning track, but the grass is for players and coaches only. It’s how they get away from reporters like me; they go stand on the grass and if they stand far away enough from the dirt, reporters can’t talk to them. But lucky for me, if you ask Rusty Kuntz a baseball question he can’t help himself; he’ll talk to a lamp post, a fire hydrant or a reporter standing on the grass.

Hmmmm. Okay, maybe he just needed to do some throat-clearing before getting to the new stuff. Let’s keep going.

From 2015:

I then asked if good RBI guys were also good “situational hitters” — guys who understand what pitch it will take to get the job done. Scoring a runner on third with less than two outs might require a ball in the air to the outfield; the hitter needs to get a pitch up in the zone. Same thing if there’s one down and runners at first and third: a groundball might be an inning-ending double play. But with a runner on third, less than two outs and the infield back, a groundball up the middle will do the trick. Knowing what will get the job done and waiting for the right pitch once again sounds like a skill.

Mitch said some guys have it and other guys don’t; he asked how many times do we see bases loaded, nobody out and a run still doesn’t score? That’s probably because a couple guys who aren’tgood at driving in runs came to the plate.

So guys who have played the game at a high level think driving in runs takes some skill; at least one guy who leaves comments on the internet doesn’t. I think I’m going with the opinion of the guys who have played the game — even if I have to walk out on the grass to hear it.

From 2016:

I then asked if good RBI guys are also good situational hitters; guys who understand what pitch it will take to get the job done.

Scoring a runner on third with less than two outs might require a ball in the air to the outfield, so the hitter needs to get a pitch up in the zone. If there’s one down and runners at first and third: a ground ball might be an inning-ending double play. But with a runner on third, nobody on first, less than two outs and the infield back, a ground ball up the middle will do the trick.

Knowing what will get the job done and waiting for the right pitch once again sounds like a skill.

Mitch said some guys have it and other guys don’t; he asked how often we see bases loaded, nobody out and a run still doesn’t score. That’s probably because a couple guys who aren’t very good at driving in runs came to the plate.

So guys who have played the game at a high level think driving in runs takes some skill and I think I’ll go along with their opinion — even if I have to walk out on the grass to hear it.

Jesus Christ, man!

Update: The following note has been added to the top of Judge’s 2016 version of the column:

(Note: The bulk of the following piece was originally published to kansascity.com last year. It has been updated with more current statistics and re-published.)

Photo via AP

[Royals Review]