So really, what does “he’s a ballplayer” actually mean?

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Yesterday I noted a couple of scouts referring to Melvin Mora as “a ballplayer” and mused what, if anything, that could mean. My suspicion was that it’s a term baseball people use to refer to a guy who they really like but whom it would be misleading to describe primarily in terms of phenomenal baseball talents. Or that it’s just nonsense.

I should have Googled a bit more, because Andrew Simon of the Hitting the Cutoff Man blog researched this very question a couple of weeks ago. He found scores of examples of guys being referred to with the “he’s a ballplayer” thing in quotes, and broke them down by category. It’s some pretty stunning stuff that both enlightens us and makes us pray that Simon isn’t working in national security or public safety, because he clearly took some time with his head buried in this data.

The results, in my view, suggest that calling a guy a “ballplayer” is really a more robust way of calling someone a “gamer” or “scrappy,” with the added benefit that it seems to avoid the racial implications that “gamer” and “scrappy” seem to often provoke. You rarely see “scrappy” black or Latino guys. There are a lot of black and Latino “ballplayers.”

In the end I fear that it may be so broad a characterization that it’s not really useful, but for now I’m sort of cool with it for being rough shorthand for “good guy/hard worker/not dumb/no ego.”

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.