In Baseball's Complete Players
, Michael Hoban shifts the criterion for greatness from the rate at which a player succeeds to the tally of actual successes. It is, the author asserts, one thing to know that when the season ended, Jim Rice's batting average was hovering at the .325 mark and that he could boast a .596 slugging average, but it's quite another to know that despite the ups and downs of a six-month season, the All-Star actually contributed 369 total bases, 117 runs scored, 57 walks, and 130 RBIs to the team's offensive production. Averages, after all, reveal nothing of actual achievement: A player who hits .400 seems the obvious MVP for his team - until you discover that he broke his leg 45 at-bats into the season and that a light-hitting reserve filled in for four-fifths of the campaign.
Shunning the indecipherable formulas so much in vogue over recent years, Michael Hoban presents a mathematically valid yet comprehensible method for ranking the game's best players and, in the process, makes it fun and productive once again for the average fan to argue baseball.