From a Globe article about Monday’s game:
When it was all said and done, ”the play that will get lost,” the skipper pointed out, ”was Mark Bellhorn’s base running.” Bellhorn made an excellent slide in the fifth, scoring the Sox’s ninth run by stepping around a bat and just sweeping his hand across the plate before Martinez could tag him.
Since I’m always having to defend the King of Grimness against those who would shun him, I thought I’d have Chris Snow do a bit of the work for me. Bellhorn’s not a flashy player, but I promise you that he’s better than you think he is. Despite the fact that he either dips his head in a vat of olive oil before every game or showers after every inning (we suspect the former); despite the fact that his shirt is crooked even in his official MLB photo; despite the fact that he leads the AL in strikeouts; he’s a player whose merits are too often unsung. He’s a patient hitter, he works the strike zone, he turns double plays, he knows how to slide and is apparently an excellent base runner when he does get on base — and every so often he hits a three-run homer. Sadly, he’s the type of quiet player that people only seem to notice when he makes an error or fails to drive in a run. I think this is why it’s easy to see Bellhorn as a weak link, when he really isn’t at all.
Let’s take Edgar Renteria, for comparison: also not a stellar hitter, also prone to unfortunate errors, but for some reason not booed with anywhere near the same frequency as Bellhorn (or, at least, he doesn’t seem to immediately elicit the same vitriol that Bellhorn seems to from some people with whom I have spoken). They’ve played in the same number of games (65) — let’s see how they stack up at the plate.
AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG Bellhorn 218 .229 4 21 36 79 .336 .362 Renteria 267 .266 5 26 19 38 .317 .390
Stats grabbed from mlb.com.
Okay, so Bellhorn strikes out a lot — this we know. But Bellhorn has walked twice as often as Renteria, despite having been at the plate on fewer occasions, and he actually has a higher on-base percentage. They’re pretty comparable in terms of home runs and RBIs (which I always want to be RsBI, but I’m a fool like that). It’s just this strikeout thing that seems to mark him (no pun intended) as a poor player.
For the record, I back Bellhorn. Plus, no one’s come up with a good nickname for Renteria, and Bellhorn’s got good nicknames in spades. And he’s a local boy. How often, these days, do you actually get a hometown guy playing for the hometown team? There’s something nice about that.
Okay, I’m done. I’ll shut up now.