When someone wins the Cy Young award with a 13-12 record, you reconsider the reliability of particular statistics and also the meaning of the award. In economics we are taught, correctly, that Ronald Coase is a world-class economist, despite his relatively small number of publications. Virtually each piece is a gem.
In the NBA, which is a better or more important stat? Rebounds per game, rebounds per minute, or how about "total rebound percentage"? Should not some measure of rebounding rate win out here?
Nonetheless, I still look first to total rebounds, whether in a game, in a year, or even in a career. How much time you are on the court is endogenous. If you are a superb rebounder but cannot play more than ten minutes a game — because of injury, uncooperativeness, or other missing skills — you will have a low number of total rebounds and that will reflect your broader deficits.
Greg Oden has a high rebound rate but he hardly plays, due to recurring injury. No one calls him the Ronald Coase of rebounding.
Similarly, Yao Ming has high success rates, but cannot stay on the court for very long, due to his bad feet. His team has plenty of talent but has not won much and it probably needs to be dismantled at this point.
In other words, it is often "brute total" statistics which are underrated (think about evaluating a potential spouse). And brute total statistics are most important when you must cooperate with others in complementary fashion and maintain their productivity as well as your own. They are least important when, like Wittgenstein, Coase, or Sraffa, you occasionally issue a missive of brilliance and then retreat for years. Coase did make his Chicago colleagues much more productive, but that effect would be weaker today in this age of specialization and co-authorship.
Both experimental economics and field experiments involve a lot of researcher cooperation and both are fields on the rise. Does this mean that total output statistics will/should become more important for assessing economists?
Circa 2010, should we be looking more for economists who are more like Nolan Ryan and less like Ronald Coase?
Addendum: Angus comments.