Lee Judge is a political cartoonist for the Star who has been writing columns on the Royals for the past few years in the wake of wave after wave of layoffs at the venerated newspaper. He can have some morsels of interesting insights from his access to Royals players and coaches, particularly popular first base coach Rusty Kuntz. However he has also taken a decidedly anti-sabermetric bent, favoring old school wisdom and aphorisms. This has gotten him into a bit of trouble, as it did last summer when he endorsed Jonathan Papelbon's choking of young Nationals star Bryce Harper to send the youngster a message.
Judge continued dishing out old school baseball knowledge in his column with the Star today, decrying stat guys who dismiss the use of "Runs Batted in" as a statistic. It was a typical Lee Judge column with some quotes from Rusty Kuntz and former Royals outfielder Mitch Maier supporting Judge's view that RBI is indeed an important stat. Judge also trotted out some statistics in a convoluted way of showing that home run hitters tend to be good RBI hitters, so wouldn't knocking in runs be a skill?
It is an unsurprising column from Judge, mostly because we've read it before. Literally.
The two columns start out differently. The May column takes shots at the internet reaction to the Kendrys Morales signing, writing that 700 internet comments will give one a "dim view of humanity". This is almost certainly our thread on the Morales signing, a thread that now admittedly looks hilariously wrong. Today's column starts out instead with a quote from the book "Moneyball" describing how the RBI stat was largely an element of context - cleanup hitters having more chances to drive runners in.
That's where the differences end.
Both columns then mirror each other almost word-for-word.
From May of 2015:
From today's column:
This is a verbatim copy. From May.
So at least Lee Judge knows the copy and paste function on Word. In the May column, he then lists a number of home run hitters with their RBI totals from 2014. In today's column, he re-runs that list, adding 2015 numbers as well. So at least there is some value added.
The ending is pretty much copied word-for-word from his previous column..
Now, self-plagiarism is not as egregious as plagiarism and is in murky waters, ethically. But it is not an innocent transgression either. Popular writer Jonah Lehrer ran into trouble when it was discovered that he was recycling some of his own material. Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly has been accused of self-plagiarism many times. There is nothing wrong with re-using snippets from old pieces, but simply re-hashing a column from nine months ago is lazy writing, and readers deserve to know if a column is simply being recycled.