Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Statistical Analysis: Was Regular Jim Traber the Kendrick Perkins of Major League Baseball?


(Editor’s Note: This week, we bring you a guest column from Ogle Mole Irwin Fletcher. He’s a big sports radio fan and will contribute to this site from time to time.)

We’re sure former Twitter power user Regular Jim Traber has hobbies – oiling his old baseball mitt, prank-calling Cal Ripken Jr., injecting truth serum, chasing yardbirds – but his latest pastime has been banging on the pro basketball skills of Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.

Using Perkins as a verbal punchline is not a high-level skill at this point. Bringing up how he’s overpaid and underperforming will get you through an awkward encounter in any local elevator or in line at Big Truck Tacos.

In fact, ESPN recently named Perkins the NBA’s “LVP” (least valuable player). Last year, he had the worst playoff performance in, well, forever.

From a Tom Haberstroh article with ESPN Insider:

Give [Perkins] a Nobel Peace Prize, because his leadership must be that transformative. Otherwise, there is no way he could convince an NBA coach to give him 20 minutes a night in 2014. Alas, Scott Brooks can’t shake his Perkins addiction. With Perkins, every shred of tangible evidence points to “not an NBA player.”

Get this: He currently has more turnovers (53) than made baskets (48). And then there’s the fact that he fouls five times as often as he blocks a shot.

If he does positive things outside the box score, it doesn’t show on the scoreboard; the Thunder are 9.2 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the floor, according to NBA.com. That is especially amazing considering he plays almost exclusively (683 of his 690 minutes) with Kevin Durant. Even the MVP favorite can’t hide his futility. Perkins ranks last in Estimated Wins Added (minus-1.5) and second-to-last in WARP (minus-1.8). It’s hard to imagine a player more unintentionally destructive.

Since the article was published, Traber has turned up his anti-Perk rhetoric. He begins and ends each show by blasting Perkins, and uses this article as proof that the Thunder big man is awful. He constantly calls Perk the LVP.

But not so fast.

Maybe the “Jim Traber of Pro Hoops” is a more appropriate title. Because when he was playing professional baseball back in the mullet-happy 80s, Trabes was putting up Perkins-level numbers of terribleness.

And we have the numbers to prove it.

It was 1988, a golden year for Traber. A muscle-headed slugger for the Baltimore Orioles, had his best season for games played, at-bats and plate appearances.

But according to Baseball-Reference.com, he put up some interesting stats.

In summary, Traber was the worst player in the American League in 1988. LVP! LVP! LVP!

Here’s some numbers for you nerds. According to the advanced stats of baseball, Traber was dead last in the American League in a stat called oWAR, offensive wins against replacement – the equal to the NBA’s WARP, the stat Trabes uses to kill Perkins with regularly. Traber’s oWAR of -1.7 was so bad, only four other guys in the AL were at -1 or lower.

In overall WAR, Traber was also negative at -1.2. Only teammate Billy Ripken was worse. (What the heck is this stat? Find out more here.)

In the stat Rbat (which gives weight to a players ability to drive in runs, depending on the team’s run scoring environment and overall team run-scoring ability), Traber was -18, lowest in the AL. Having your first baseman have the league’s lowest Rbat would be like having your shooting gaurd have the league’s worst 3-point percentage.

In other words, if your baseball team had runners on base, you would have been better with Perkins with a bat in his hand than the big fella.

No surprise that the Orioles finished last in the AL East that year and Trabes would spend only one more year in the bigs. At least Perkins is on a good team and, at times, providing critical defense and helping keep the superstars happy.

No sign Trabes did any of that.

Too bad throwing stones wasn’t a stat.



    • Don’t forget the “real” Traber has some other distinctions: He’s a survivor of a belly button blowout; is the poster child for the Charisma bypass operation; and is a burrito shy of being a colostomy bag.

  1. “How many years did you spend in the majors big fella. Come down here and say that? There’s no fence around me. Cheesecloth! Jules! Yardbird!”

  2. Not to defend Traber but it’s not really a good comparisons, no one traded for Jim, Jim wasn’t one of the top 5-6 paid players on the team, Earl Weaver wasn’t in love with playing him on a regular basis. He was a minor league player with a limited major league shot, Perk starts, was traded for, and is the 3rd-4th highest player on the team.
    Yea Jim was a turd of a major leaguer, but he, nor anyone else ever held him out to be anything more. Now he’s a turd of a radio host………Perk is still starting and is still making 8 figures.

    I think it’s safe to say, based upon perfomarnce they are both currently grossly overpaid.

    • Actually, it’s a very good comparison. The quote from Herbstroth’s article claims Perk is the LVP based on the numbers alone. No mention is made of salary or circumstance of acquisition, etc.

      Traber has also cried for years that he could have been a contender but was stuck behind Eddie Murray and the O’s wouldn’t trade him because he was so valuable as Murray’s replacement.

  3. Your new columnist reminds me of my old physician, Dr. Rosenpenis.

  4. I guess they will let you put anything on this site, that has to be the dumbest comparison I’ve ever read!

  5. Ironically, when the Thunder first acquired Perk, Jim touted that Perk was “exactly” what the Thunder needed inside.

  6. Traber’s salary in 1988 was $80,000, which would be equal to $152,878.13 in 2012. Perk made $7.124 MILLION dollars in 2012 as the STARTING CENTER for a playoff contending team. This is a huge difference so the comparison is greatly flawed. To compare Traber to Perk is like comparing the kid who picks up carts in the parking lot to the CEO of the grocery store. If the kid pushing carts is bringing in CEO level salary, that is a problem. Could they both be considered LVP material? I don’t know that Traber could because expectations and resulting financial compensation shows that he wasn’t expected to contribute much to the team anyway. In my mind, the difference in pay, playing time, and therefore expectation puts them in 2 totally different categories. But, I realize that this article was written to be snarky and not necessarily logical (like most things on the Lost Ogle.)

    • No, Trabes didn’t make the equivalent of the Perk salary for the Orioles, you’re right. But dollar (in 2014 term) to dollar, you can’t entirely compare them either. No, Traber didn’t make millions, you’re absolutely right. You also have to note though, TWO players made over $850k for that Orioles team. For that era, 80k wasn’t unheard of. SEVEN players on his team made at or less than Traber. Remember I am arguing that it’s not like he made pennies, a nothing contract, not that he made Perkins type money, compared to his team. Stats only though, which this article discussed, not pay at all, it’s pretty accurate.

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