I’m not a statistics guy myself — math is hard, yo — but I’ve long considered myself a fellow traveler in much the same way that guys like Timothy Leary and Wavy Gravy hung around a lot of rock bands in the 60s without making any music. I’m totally down with the statheads even if I can’t do a thing that they do.
So I’m pleased to read that Max Scherzer — one of my favorite pitchers simply because he strikes out a ton of dudes yet doesn’t seem like a fascist — is a big stats geek. No, he’s not redefining the field or anything, but as a pitcher he’s really aware of the advanced metrics and has, to some extent, used them to refine his game.
Sure, he has struggled until recently and got sent down to Toledo, but that’s about talent — command is a talent, by the way, not an intellectual exercise — but any time I read about ballplayers who look at the advanced stats, I see a guy who seems genuinely interested in wanting to improve his game, and you have to dig that.
UPDATE: We write a lot of damn posts here at HBT. So many that I didn’t remember the fact that Aaron gave statty props to Scherzer just last August before writing this.
Crap. I shouldn’t have admitted that. If I had gone all day without anyone else reminding me that this is basically a repeat, I could save myself a lot of work in 2011 just writing what I’ve written in 2010. Of course, maybe by then people won’t remember this post admitting that either . . .
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.