So Jerry Manuel said he could see Mike Jacobs serving as a power bat for the bench, like what the Phillies had with Matt Stairs.
But Mike Jacobs is not like Matt Stairs.
Matt Stairs was notable for a several reasons: He looked like a beer-league softball player, got on-base a lot, hit home runs, and couldn’t really play defense. Mike Jacobs only shares two of those qualities.
Matt Stairs finished his career with a .358 on-base percentage. Mike Jacobs is currently rocking a lifetime .313 on-base percentage.
I tweeted this information a few minutes ago, and several Mets fans responded — perhaps accurately — that the Mets would only be asking Jacobs to be a lefty pinch-hitter off the bench who wouldn’t have to play defense, and so Manuel wasn’t comparing the two as players so much as he was suggesting Jacobs could fill a similar role.
That’s all well and good, and far be it for me to complain about the Mets finally adding a bench bat with a little pop.
But I’m guessing — and I haven’t run the numbers on this — that for a player to be valuable to his team while only being asked to do one thing, he has to be very good at that one thing. And Jacobs is not that good at that one thing.
Yes, he can hit home runs. That’s great.
What he can’t do — at least probably not well enough to earn a roster spot — is get on base. Not like Stairs could, and maybe not like Quad-A Spring Training invite Chris Carter could, either.
Why’s that important? Well, it’s not like all the situations that call for pinch-hitters only call for a home run. Hitting a home run is always the best possible thing a pinch-hitter can do, of course, but in instances where the team is down by more than one run, getting on base, well… you know.
Plus, if the pinch-hitter is being used to replace the pitcher — as he most often is — his getting on base means the top of the order will get to bat with a man on to drive in. And the top part of the order is where the good hitters hit.
It may feel like I’m on some sort of campaign against Mike Jacobs, but that’s really not the case. I have no personal agenda against the man, and I’m sure he’s a really nice dude. I just bristle when people bandy about Matt Stairs’ name haphazardly.