Marty Noble is brilliant, even when he isn't

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People often needle Marty Noble of MLB.com because he doesn’t really get sabermetrics, or even embrace “newer stats” like OPS and WHIP, which makes his analysis of David Wright’s odd 2009 campaign pretty interesting to read:

Will David Wright hit more than 20 home runs?


Yes. But more important is whether he drives in runs as he did in each
full season before 2009. His power plunge was a curious and troubling
development for the team. He seemingly became spooked by the
dimensions, shape and karma of Citi Field in ’09. His RBIs dropped from
a four-year average of 112 to 72, partially because his home run total
decreased from an average of 29 to 10. But he also missed two weeks
because of a concussion, returned without a full sense of comfort in
the batter’s box and struck out 140 times. All that undermined his RBI
and home run production.

Yes, these are all legitimate reasons for Wright’s subpar season, but the
drop in RBI? He’s leaving out that Jose Reyes, who was regularly
sitting on a tee for Wright at second and third base from 2006-08, didn’t play a lick after May 20. Some nice table-setters can do wonders
for certain players (see: Jorge Cantu’s 2009) and Wright was missing
his for most of the season. No matter. It’s easy to forgive Noble when
he can spin webs like this:

How can the Mets avoid a run of debilitating injuries like they endured last season?

Drink more water, stretch properly before games, avoid walls, slide
feet first and never slide into first base. Abandon the split-finger
fastball, hang around with Ripken, keep the dugout steps clear (see
Luis Castillo last summer). Reach back for something extra only if
something extra is available. Improve bunting technique (see David
Cone, 1987), don’t take Dave Kingman swings in batting practice, learn
how to cut the bases properly. Abandon all maple bats. Don’t bat
against Perez in intrasquad games. Keep the oblique muscles stretched
and strong. Avoid collisions — no, avoid all contact with Padres first
baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks (he’s 6-foot-6, 285 pounds). Don’t
wrestle with Santana — he’s Kingman strong. Never play catch with Jeff
Francoeur at distances fewer than 250 feet. Heed the warning track.
Don’t accept assignment to the Citi Field lockers assigned last season
to Santana, John Maine, J.J. Putz, Ryan Church, Reyes, Beltran, Alex
Cora, Carlos Delgado, Fernando Nieve, Gary Sheffield, Jon Niese,
Schneider, Wright or Pagan. Don’t sign Ben Sheets. Don’t smoke. Cross
at the green, not in between. Duck, get out of the way and, if at all
possible, rub the belly of Yogi Berra, the luckiest man ever to play
the game.

Noble may never know Wins Above Replacement (WAR) from the funk band of the same name, but few understand the pulse of the franchise better than him.

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

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On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.