Last Friday, Mark Teixeira announced that he was retiring from baseball after the season. The 36 year old first baseman has battled injuries the past few seasons and while he was interested in playing, those injuries likely pushed him towards calling it quits.
But Elias Sports, courtesy of ESPN Stats, pointed out an interesting statistic about Teixeira that adds color to a point I made weeks ago about postseason stats in my discussion about Pete Rose and Ichiro Suzuki‘s hit totals.
Mark Teixeira has 404 career HR. None of them have been a walk-off. That's the most HR without a walk-off in MLB history (via @EliasSports).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 5, 2016
Obviously ESPN and Elias are discussing just Teixeira’s regular season numbers when they say he’s hit the most home runs in MLB history without hitting a walk-off home run. Because Teixeira hit a walk off in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS against Minnesota.
But it obviously doesn’t count.
Major sports media loves to talk all the time about how postseason success, or lack thereof, is more important than regular season performance when determining just how good your career is. It’s why people questioned Peyton Manning‘s place in history (only 1 Super Bowl until this year). It’s why people questioned LeBron James‘ legacy. It’s why Derek Jeter is considered one of the greatest players of all time.
But they can sit there with a straight face and tell us that Mark Teixeira has never hit a walk off home run in the Majors.
There are a few people who called ESPN out on that tweet and ESPN basically replied with, “Obviously we’re only counting the regular season.”
Because for some reason it would just be wrong to include postseason statistics when discussing a player’s career numbers. They don’t count.
There is no justifiable reason that postseason statistics shouldn’t be included in a player’s career statistics.
Those postseason games are literally being played against the best teams in the league. So by saying that postseason games don’t count towards career stats, you’re saying that those games against a lineup of AAA call ups in September is worthwhile while a game a week later against one of the top-8 teams in baseball in the postseason is not.
Sure, there will be guys like Jeter who will play a lot of postseason games (he has played 158 of them), but I don’t have a problem with that. If that’s unfair, it’s unfair that some players have longer careers than others. It happens.
I love stats. They have the power to tell stories. But let’s be honest about them. Don’t say someone hasn’t done something at the Major League level when they have done it. It just happens to be on a larger stage than the regular season.