The Baseball Gods appear before you. They’re going to to grant you youth and ability and they’re putting you in The Show.
Defensively, you’ll be perfectly average: you’ll make all the routine plays, but you’ll never stand out. You’ll be an average baserunner, with average speed.
You’ll be an everyday player, batting in the first half of the lineup, averaging about 650-700 AB a season.
You are guaranteed at least 5 seasons at the MLB level, but you are still subject to injury.
Where you’ll stand out is at the plate. You are given a choice of either:
A) Only bat .100, but every hit is a home run. Everything else is a strikeout. No sac bunts, no sac flies, you can’t even get intentionally walked; you hit one out or you strike out. You’ll hit 65-70 dingers every year, but you’ll contribute nothing else offensively.
B) Consistently hit .300, but everything’s a single, no matter what. Like above, it’s a single or it’s nothing.
Which do you choose? Which player is helping his team more?
Singles hitter. If opposing pitchers knew I was a homer or nothing, they’d never pitch to me in late innings with a base open in front of me. Sure homers are fun, but chances are most won’t help your team.
That’s a point in favor of the 0.300 batter. However, that’s with zero outs, while the chance that a runner on first will score will decrease with more outs. Plus a home run drives in everyone on base while a single only has a chance to drive in base runners. Of course a single is worth a lot more than a walk due to the chance of driving people in.
I bet it’s close. Definitely team dependent too. Imagine everyone else on the team strikes out. The 0.300 can’t score any runs. If everyone else on the team always makes it to base, then not making outs is more important. I’m not sure which side of that line your average team would fall on in this circumstance. I imagine there are simulations available for this?
The .300 hitter has a .600 OPS, the HR hitter has a .500 OPS and it’s almost all in slugging. The .300 hitter is ‘helping’ his team more but they’re both abysmal players because of the outrageous amount of K’s.
The HR hitter will paradoxically last longer because power is so low these days. He’ll bounce around several organizations trying to fix him. Granted most of it will be in the minors, but at least he won’t be coaching little league like the singles guy will.
.100 HR hitter. Both players won’t survive long, but if you are guaranteed 5 years, the guy who only hit .100 with 65-70 HRs a year is going to be remembered for FAAAR longer than the guy who hit singles every time up.