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October 10, 2015

Things I Hate About TV: If you change leagues, your stats go to zero

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 12th 2006 7:43PM
Bobby AbreuBobby Abreu (right) is batting for the Yankees, less than two weeks after his July 31 trade from the Phillies. You vaguely know his stats, but are curious to see how they've changed since the trade. So you look up while watching the game and see on the TV screen that Abreu is hitting .378 with one home run and five RBIs.

Whaaa? What happened to all the homers and RBIs he had with the Phillies?

Well, they're still there. But, because Abreu went from the National League to the American League, the channel that you're watching has decided that the stats he compiled in "the other league" don't apply anymore, and just showed his stats since the switch. It's something they've been doing since baseball's been on television, when the two leagues were distinct and the players from each never played each other outside the World Series and the All-Star Game.

But it doesn't make any sense anymore.

Because of interleague play, some of the stats Abreu complied with the Phils were against American League teams (including the Yankees!). Granted, it's a different set of AL teams than a player in another division compiled (most interleague matchups between particular teams only happen every three years), but at least there are AL teams in the mix.

So why zero out the stats? It doesn't help the casual fan see what kind of a season the person is having, and the small sample of "new" stats don't really give an indication of what the player can do. It's like showing that a player has a .635 average during the first week of the season; the number is so out-of-context that it becomes meaningless.

So, baseball fans, what do you think? Should sports channels abandon this obsolete practice? Let me know in the comments.

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Nick and Taylor... you're not the only ones wondering about how applicable this is to TV... so did Keith, who asked me whether this was more of an MLB issue than a TV issue. I had to concede that I wasn't sure. And Nick, you make a good point about the separate awards, which is a good reason to separate the stats. But still, I don't think there's any mandade to the TV stations to separate stats, and some don't. For some reason, I think Fox combines stats, as does ESPN. And, if you look at Abreu's official 2006 stat line on MLB.com, it's also combined.

Scott RC, your argument holds water for both inter-league *and* intra-league trades; a hitter may go to a different lineup and have to hit differently whether he was going from the Phillies to the Mets *or* the Phillies to the Yankees. Since there is no "reset" when a player switches teams but stays in the same league, your argument doesn't sway me at all.

Don't worry, readers... we'll be back to our regularly-scheduled posts about regular TV soon...

August 13 2006 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I dont see how this has anything to do with what "the channel decides." It is MLB policy. All awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year) and leaders (home runs, batting average) are done by each league separately. Placido Polanco had the best batting average in the majors last year, but was traded from the NL to the AL last year half way through the season and ended up not playing enough games in either league to qualify. McGwire as well in 97, but I think scottrc is being misleading. He didnt win the home run title that year since there is no award for most home runs in MLB.

I guess an argument could be made that there should just be one set of awards overall, but there are still significant differences in the way the game is played between the two leagues (IMO). They do not "zero" statistics when a player changes teams WITHIN a league. All that said, YES (I assume that is the channel you are watching) could certainly have provided his interleague stats or his overall season stats with Phillies+Yankees (and I'm sure they do at some point), but I think most baseball fans are expecting when he comes up to plate to see just his Yankee stats on the screen. It would actually be wierd to see something else given then way MLB runs things. I guess the point being COMBINING statistics is out-of-context and meaningless. :)

Wait, why are we discussing this on tvsquad?

August 13 2006 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is this really "TV's" fault or does it more have to do with baseball in general.

August 13 2006 at 9:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In situations like this, they should post his Philly stats, NY stats, and aggregate stats for the year. Come on TV, you have the technology to show 3 lines of stats.

August 13 2006 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave Caolo

Of course, the Yankees are the epitome of evil, so who cares what he's done since turning to the Dark Side?

August 13 2006 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott rc

It is important to erase the stats when a player changes leagues / teams because a player does not play for himself but makes decisions on how/when/where to hit based on the activity of the team whole and not just himself.

For instance, take a hitter who may be on a team filled with crappy players and is batting 4th in the lineup as the team's star. His role is to drive long deep fly balls and bring in runs via home runs, sac flies, or hits.

He gets traded to a team filled with hitters and becomes a #2 hitter. His role changes to one where he's expected to have a higher on base percentage, so THAT team's #4 brings him home. He may stop pulling the ball to the outfield and use his speed to nail some well placed shots through the infield. Thus, his stats change based on the performance expected by his role and other players' actions. If this trade happens (as they mostly do) at the end of July, the previous stats become meaningless to fans of the new team.

In terms of records and individual league leaders of any batting / pitching category, the aggregate total is still added for the end of the season, as is evident almost famously when Mark McGwire his 58 Homers in 1997 playing for both Oakland and St. Louis.


TV Sports Geek checking in to provide you with a level of granularity that non-sports-geeks dont get!

P.S. I endorse the above post about the world series being worthy of the term "world" because of the international players coming to the BEST leagues to play ball. The best of all international regions play in MLB.

August 13 2006 at 5:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First, the idea that stats should start over is perfectly reasonable. With the exception of a little inter-league play, a player is now facing all new pitchers (or if they are a pitcher, all new batters). Play is different in the two leagues, which is one of the charms of the MLB.

Addressing BartmanDK comments, I totally agree with Gfunk21. The MLB is a melting pot of the very best players from around the world. The World Series is very aptly named in this day and age.

August 12 2006 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

to correct myself, I completely forgot that the montreal expos moved to washington, so there is only one canadian team

August 12 2006 at 11:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Players from all over the world play and the world series, and to get technical, there are two Canadian teams, so it wouldn't be a "usa champtionship".

The thing that you refer to as "the real world series" does exist, its called the World Baseball Classic and it happened for the first time this year

August 12 2006 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Will Teullive

Did they count how many times Bobby Abreu avoided anything resembling an effort on a fly ball that wasn't hit right to him?

August 12 2006 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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