There are no perfect baseball players. Well, there is one. Maybe two. But among the mortal human population, all players have flaws. Sometimes these flaws are unavoidable and problematic – they are the flaws one attempts glossing over when wearing glasses that aren’t rose-colored as much as tinted with the hue of your favorite team. “Oh, Player X only needs to hit a little bit and he can play every day.” “Player Y just needs to improve his third pitch and suddenly he’s a number two starter!”
We’ve all done that sort of mental arithmetic, straining our own credulity when looking for reasons to affix our hopes and dreams to the future of a one-dimensional baseball player.
The other side of this equation is uglier but not uncommon. We go searching for flaws in players, quickly pointing out shortcomings without acknowledging or celebrating what they do uncommonly well.
The ever-elusive battle for fundamentals is often fought over these grounds. Fans or analysts watch a player fail to execute — or worse, screw up — a seemingly simple play and the knives come out. This outfielder doesn’t have an accurate enough throwing arm, this player made a bad decision on this bunt play. These momentary lapses stick out in the memory, more so than an entire season of good at bats or solid production and health.
Fundamental breakdowns stick out like sore thumbs and they are, one assumes, easy to fix. If they are easy to fix, they should be easy to avoid in the first place, should they not? If there is a capacity to improve a facet of the game by learning, presumably all it takes is someone to teach that particular skill.
Where is all this going, you might ask? This rambling preamble relates back, of course, to Yasiel Puig. Yesterday, Jon Morosi wrote a column fretting over Yasiel Puig’s lack of fundamentals and how it might cost the Dodgers when the season gets down to the nitty gritty. Maybe the Dodgers should punish Puig for his inability to hit the cutoff man with regularity or the reckless abandon with which he runs the bases.
These easily corrected mistakes cost teams games, we’re told. An obvious lack of baseball smarts and discipline, he clucks. (the player obviously lacks while the writer has them in spades. This is a casual reminder of the Harvard alum’s mental acuity.)
It is true, Yasiel Puig occasionally over-estimates the strength of his throwing arm and runs the bases like, well, like a dope. A screw-up at the wrong time could KILL THE DODGERS SEASON! Pay no mind to the fact that Yasiel Puig kinda sorta rejuvenated their season, and he’s been the most valuable Dodger outfielder (ahead of three guys earning a combined $54.5 million.)
Please disregard the rate at which he gets on base and picks up big hits and makes a nuisance of himself for the opposition. Go ahead and pretend that all the things he does to improve his teams chances of winning (hit home runs, take tough pitches the other way) because of the outside chance he might find himself in a situation where he might potentially make a mental error which costs the team a game.
Jon Morosi is an easy, obvious, oblivious target but he is not alone in his inability to see the forest because the trees ran through a stop sign from the third base coach. It is easy to criticize or plead with the team to chastise than it is to admit “this stuff matters but, big picture, it matters a lot less than we like to think.” Jon Weisman offers a strong counterpoint over at Dodgers Thoughts which is well worth your time.
If you want to “cure” Yasiel Puig of something, maybe start with the demonstrative tantrum he threw in front of his dugout last night after a strike call went against him. Puig was lucky not to get tossed from the game after his Cuban countryman Jose Fernandez struck him out and the Puig Destroyer voiced his displeasure with John Hirschbeck, who wasted no time injecting himself into an argument.
You know why that kind of behavior is problematic? Because it could get him tossed from the game, and that makes his team worse. That’s bad. The Los Angeles Dodgers need Yasiel Puig in their lineup if they want to win games. Without him, they will win fewer games. The end.
And the rest
This is a thing which totally happened and will continue happening in the foreseeable future
How the Red Sox altered their travel plans to avoid a West Coast swoon [ProJo]
ALL THE DUST
A worthwhile tweak to the Gold Glove selection process. [SABR
Fangraphs polls some pros about their favorite stat for evaluating pitchers. [Fangraphs]
The above link prompted an interesting discussion
@BMcCarthy32 As long as pitchers try to get batters out, and batter try to not get outs, everything is just fine.
— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) August 19, 2013
Little League Home Run Alert!
Position Player Pitching Alert!
Not only did Saint Jake Elmore do the right thing and save the bullpen by pitching an inning, he also made his big league catching debut after Cliff Coropan was forced from the game with injury. Starter Jason Castro was the Astros DH on Monday night, though he came in to catch when Elmore took the mound late in a blowout. to the rescue!