Buzzfeed has waded knee-deep into derp:
See, the thing about this is that while “hype in social media age” can, indeed, be tricky, baseball players are not properly assessed by their “hype in the social media age.” “Sharknado” got a lot of hype in the social media age too. No one has mistaken it for a good movie.
Likewise, no one who knows anything about baseball thinks that Yasiel Puig is anything akin to “a poor man’s Jeff Francoeur.” While raw and while, on occasion, known to chase bad pitches, that’s pretty much where the comparisons stop. No one chases bad pitches like Francoeur. Puig’s power is immense and natural and his home run stroke is not dependent upon guessing so often like Francoeur’s is. He has shown some patience as well. At the moment he has 23 walks in 296 plate appearances in his age 22 season. Francoeur walked 23 times in his age-22 season. In 686 plate appearances.
But such comparisons seem silly because it’s simply undeniable that Puig is the better player than Francoeur ever was at any time in his minor or major league career and has the potential to be much, much better. We cheapen him with a comparison based on the most superficial first impression of each and the “hype in the social media age” stuff. Even at the time of his 2005 breakout most observers knew that Francoeur was playing way above his head. Most observers now likewise believe that — though his current stat line is a bit inflated by a fast start — Puig is not doing anything that is truly unexpected.
So, yes, it’s an unfair comp. It’s like clicking on the Buzzfeed article in question, seeing lots of pictures and large text and thinking that it’s a publication aimed at preschoolers.
And that’s not the case at all, is it?
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.
All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.
Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.