The Wages of Wins Journal gets a fair number of comments. Some are well-thought out and offer insight; others appear to have been written by semi-literate elementary school children. And some are repetitive (in the sense… we have heard this many times before).
Recently we received a comment that has appeared several times across the past seven years: someone noted that a team comprised entirely of players like Kenneth Faried wouldn’t be very good. Across the years, such an argument (call it the “clone argument”) has also been applied to Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, Tyson Chandler — typically any big man who is productive despite a relative lack of scoring. Essentially, any time we say a non-scoring player is great, we tend to see something like this argument.
Our usual response is to note that a team of Allen Iversons also wouldn’t be very good. Basketball is a game where big guys and little guys come together to produce wins. If all you have are big guys (or little guys), you probably won’t do so well.
Or at least, that’s what I used to think. But these repeated comments have made me reconsider! Today I’ve decided that we should fully embrace this critique and start applying it to all sports, not just non-scoring NBA big men.
For example, some people think that Miguel Cabrera is a great baseball player. But that can’t be true; a team of Cabreras would not be expected to win many games. Cabrera probably can’t play the outfield very well, I’m not sure he could player catcher, and I’m fairly certain he isn’t capable of being a big league pitcher. So although a team of Cabreras could score, they couldn’t stop anyone. Clearly then, Cabrera can’t be a great baseball player.
What about football? Some people have this silly idea that Adrian Peterson is a great football player. But how can anyone make such a stupid argument? Can you imagine having five Petersons on the offensive line trying to block defensive ends and defensive tackles? What about Peterson playing on the defensive line and trying to stop an opposing team’s running back (which would be difficult with a 300-pound offensive lineman knocking him on his ass)?
Or how about we consider Peyton Manning. Sure, he can be a quarterback, but does anyone think he could play wide receiver or defensive back? Obviously a football team comprised of a bunch of Adrian Petersons or Peyton Mannings would lose a lot of football games. So it’s not possible for these players to be great.
Next time someone tells you that a player is “great”, just remember this little exercise. A team comprised of any one “great” player, probably isn’t that great. Therefore, there are no “great” players. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
– DJ (with minor help from Devin)