Gabe Kapler has brought a new voice to the baseball scene with a fresh look at baseball through the use of sabermetrics.
Not many color commentators use progressive baseball analytics to explain the game the way Kapler does during his Fox Sports 1 telecasts. He’s a numbers guy, not an emotions guy.
Those are his words.
While providing color commentary for a Cardinals-Brewers game on Fox Sports 1 on July 12, Kapler said it was “poetic justice” that Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy would get the start for the National League in the All-Star Game over recently-injured Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
There was a faction of Cardinals fans who interpreted it as Kapler wishing ill on Molina, or at worst, reveling in his injury. The intent of Kapler’s comment couldn’t have been farther from that.
Remember, he’s a numbers guy, and all he was trying to convey was that if the All-Star Game was supposed to be about who has the better numbers, then it was only fitting that Lucroy ended up with the start.
Kapler’s Twitter mentions were flooded with vitriol, to which he responded by simply asking questions like, “What do you think I meant by that?”
The next day he posted this letter addressed to Cardinals fans:
On Tuesday, he provided even more insight into his comment and its intent.
“Just for the record, the reason I responded the way I did on Twitter was because I knew it was misunderstood,” Kapler said. “I also knew that 95 percent of fans – whether they were Cardinals fans or baseball fans in general – know that I would never wish ill on anybody.
“If you know me at all, if you’ve followed any portion of my history, you probably know that I’m not a mean guy. I’m not perfect. I (mess) up and say things that I wish I didn’t say, but I’m certainly not mean. That would have been a mean comment if that’s the way I meant it.”
He noted how in his mind, there wasn’t even a conversation about who should start. Based on numbers alone, he believed Lucroy deserved the start.
For comparison purposes, here are Lucroy’s and Molina’s first-half offensive stats placed head-to-head:
Lucroy | .315 avg. | .494 SLG | 9 HR | 44 RBI | 107 hits | .385 OBP
Molina | .287 avg. | .409 SLG | 7 HR | 30 RBI | 87 hits | .341 OBP
He’s got a point.
“Now, that doesn’t mean that Jonathan Lucroy is a better catcher than Yadier Molina,” Kapler said. “All it means is that he was having the superior first half, which, from my perspective, is how the All-Star Game is determined – who’s having the best season. Otherwise, why are we not voting for Jason Giambi because of what he did in 2002?”
As Kapler alluded to in his note, he has a great deal of respect for Molina. He had no reason to mock him or celebrate his injury.
“All that aside, my note was to let (the fans) know how much I think Yadier Molina is one of the most valuable players on earth and how much respect I have for him,” he said. “I remember thinking that immediately going back to the 2004 World Series before Yadi was Yadi. That’s why I felt the need to clarify.
“I think there was a very small demographic who got their feelings hurt, and I don’t want people to have their feelings hurt. I want people to understand me, so that’s why I wrote that note – so I could be understood better.”
Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a four-part series of my conversation with former Major Leaguer and current MLB analyst Gabe Kapler.
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