One of the great false dilemmas of stats/scout non-debate is the desire to of statheads to cast out any intangibles. Anything that cannot be measured or quantified is worthless, the old strawman fallacy goes.
This, of course, isn’t true. There are some thing which many stat-oriented types dislike, such as the ideas of chemistry or leadership. But one thing that even the most ardent stats nerd cannot downplay is that value of desire. It takes a lot of talent to get to the Major Leagues and it takes just as much talent to stay there. To stay focused and driven no matter how many zeros show up on the paycheck and no matter how coddled and worshipped a player gets.
Sometimes, the desire wanes. When it does, people notice. When they notice, your ongoing employment is jeopardized.
Roy Oswalt used to be very good. Then he started breaking down as he got older. It happens every time. Even when he wasn’t great, like last year with the Rangers, he was still sort of okay. Oswalt pitched just 59 innings for the Rangers in 2012. He struck out a surprising 59 batters against just 11 walks. Hey, that’s pretty good!
Whoops. He also allowed 11 home runs in those 59 innings, which is very bad. It more than doubles his career HR/9 rate. Oswalt lost his rotation spot and moved to the bullpen, much to his chagrin. He finished the year nursing a forearm injury.
Perhaps Oswalt would be much better in 2013. A move to a more home run friendly ballpark plus the good old gods of luck would surely help bring his numbers back in line with what we expect from Roy Oswalt. Bill James projects a 3.64 ERA/3.52 FIP, should Oswalt choose to pitch this season.
Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe passes along a quote from an unnamed NL executive, claiming many teams gave up chasing Oswalt as he just doesn’t seem to want it bad enough. Oswalt appears willing to pitch in 2013 but on his own terms only.
Like last season, Oswalt will handpick his landing spot and might only be ready to pitch half the season. Which is nice luxury if you can afford it but who needs the headache? Nobody can begrudge Roy Oswalt if his heart isn’t in playing baseball any more. He is 35 years old, played for 12 years and made a big ole pile of money. As his body betrays him, his mind begins to wander. Any team that brings him on will do so reluctantly.
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus brought #want to the world, now is the time to apply it. Roy Oswalt showed all kinds of want for his career, racking up 50 Wins Above Replacement as the ace of the Astros. If he wants to play, it sounds like he needs to spend a little bit more time convincing himself he’s up for it. If he ever tricks his own body into believing it, he can then shift his focus to the front offices of the world.