Starting this year, I’ve made a habit of utilizing Twitter’s search function to find fan reactions to Dodgers events. The purpose of this is partially for laughs and partially for curiosity, but a larger part of the reason revolves around wanting to keep track of which players fans like and dislike … irrationally.
So yeah, I willfully torture myself for the benefit of you all. Worship me.
In 2010, the competition for the irrational fan reaction crown would have been close between Jonathan Broxton and Matt Kemp. Last year, it was a battle between Chad Billingsley and Broxton. This year? It seems clear to me that Billingsley has taken the top spot.
In his start prior to yesterday, Billingsley had a quality outing in which he allowed two runs over six innings on 83 pitches. However, in the second inning he ran into trouble and surrendered two runs, and people absolutely freaked the fuck out.
As such, I suppose when Billingsley imploded yesterday, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the claws came out with the quickness.
Dodgers players I hate: Billingsley, Loney, Uribe, Treanor.
— Michael Cortez (@BIG_Eazy16) April 22, 2012
Case in point, right? Fans commonly put Billingsley into this class of player, which is just amusing.
Chad Billingsley walks the pitcher who was trying to bunt. Not very moneyball
— Justin Umberson (@JUmberson) April 22, 2012
What does that even mean?!
Billingsley you’re such trash. If you throw strikes to the pitcher whose giving you an out, you wouldn’t be in that position.
— Johnny Navarrette (@JN_Sports) April 22, 2012
I know, right? Too bad this guy wasn’t Rick Ankiel‘s pitching coach a decade ago.
Reminds me of the advice high school pitching coaches dole out: “JUST THROW STRIKES!”
Thanks, coach. Super useful for me.
Billingsley is bad luck. Every single time he pitches, things go wrong.
— Kacie (@Baby_Short) April 22, 2012
Billingsley is shit! Trade this fool
— Chris Perfecto (@PerfectDoe) April 22, 2012
Gotta be honest, even Jason Schmidt wasn’t this reviled. Think about it.
Did the real Chad Billingsley just stand up? #Dodgers
— InsideDodgerBaseball (@InsideDodgers) April 22, 2012
In all honesty, this isn’t that inflammatory of a comment, but it reveals the most common mindset that Dodgers fans have regarding Billingsley. Almost every other tweet about him was something similar.
It made me wonder whether Dodgers fans actually know what Billingsley does and does not bring to the table, so I decided to spell it out for everybody.
Billingsley has a career ERA of 3.66 and a career FIP of 3.72, so he falls almost perfectly in line with statistical expectations.
Over his first two seasons, he was a young and improving pitcher who was shuttled back and forth between the starter and reliever role, yet he still thrived. Upon winning a spot in the rotation for good, Billingsley has since posted two good seasons, one above-average season, and one below-average season.
So far in his career, he has totaled ~$66 million in performance for a salary of ~$12 million. All in all, it’s undeniable that Billingsley has been an extremely valuable asset to the team.
Now I don’t have a crystal ball, so I have no idea how Billingsley turns out in 2012 and beyond, but thus far? These are the facts.
So again, I ask, why the hatred?
Getting back to the fans, as I’ve already showed this season, the general disdain they have for Billingsley is astounding, and I’m not sure I grasp why.
I speculated years ago that a lot of it revolved around people playing armchair psychiatrist and using the amazing powers of confirmation bias. Well, I dismantled that argument back then and I think it’s worth pointing out once again that it’s an idiotic justification to use.
Billingsley is a homegrown player, he hasn’t cost a ton of money, and he has produced for the team year in and year out.
Dodgers fans seem to think they know who Billingsley is, but it’s too bad a lot of them are wrong.