Friday night, Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning against the Royals. I was watching the game on television, because Royals. I was watching the Royals' broadcast of the game, because Rod Martin. This was Fielder's 24th home run of the season, which really isn't a lot considering his salary. But you can always count on broadcasters to sugarcoat just about any player's performance. Here are the Royals' broadcasters in the wake of Fielder's bomb:
Rex Hudler: They're saying here in Detroit that Fielder's not having the kind of year he could have. It must be nice, because I know a lot of guys'd like to have 24 homers and over a hundred ribbies, at this particular time of the year.
Steve Physioc: Twenty-four and one-oh-one.
Hudler: Pretty talented.
Physioc: And he doesn't get too many RBI opportunities, because Cabrera's hittin' in front of him.
In 1987, Sports Illustrated predicted the Cleveland Indians would be the best team in the major leagues. I'll never forget the cover of their big baseball-preview issue. The Indians finished that season with the worst record in the major leagues. I'll never forget this, either: Bill James described S.I.'s prediction as MPE: Maximum Possible Error.
Well, Steve Physioc's analysis here wasn't quite MPE ... but it was pretty damned close.
Physioc: Prince Fielder doesn't get too many RBI opportunities.
Fact: Prince Fielder LEADS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL IN RBI OPPORTUNITIES.
It's not even close. Entering Friday night's game, here were the top six in the majors:
1. Prince Fielder (488)
2. Brandon Phillips (455)
3. Dustin Pedroia (452)
4. Hunter Pence (439)
5. Jay Bruce (438)
6. Victor Martinez (438)
You know why there are two Tigers in the top six? Because the guys batting ahead of Fielder and Martinez are on base all the time! And because no, Miguel Cabrera does not hit a home run every time he bats. Not even close to every time.
I don't mean to pick on Physioc, who after all does have to work with Rex Hudler almost every night. But to get something so terribly wrong, largely in a misbegotten attempt to make Fielder's season seem better than it's been ... Please let me know if Physioc corrected himself later. I had to turn off the game when the Tigers took a 6-1 lead.