One of my colleagues once claimed that baseball players are the most stupid of all athletes. While I think my colleague would admit his argument rests on a shaky empirical foundation, I wouldn't be surprised if a veteran beat writer for any team in MLB completely agreed with him. That's what makes this stuff, coming out of the mouth of a so-so KC Royals pitcher with so-so stuff, so refreshing. (these quotes are taken from a Tim Marchman blog post entitiled Brian Bannister should be your favorite player
On various measures:
"I think it's important to look at all three of the metrics—plus/minus, John Dewan's plus/minus, UZR and there's another one." (how many baseball writers actually even know what he's talking about?)
On defensive stats:
"The thing is, it still gets tricky when you're talking about, you know, the zones. A lot of teams play more shifts than others, there's still a lot of things. I look at them because I still think it gives you the best read on defense, as long as you look at all of them, make sure there's no kind of outliers in the stats. So I really like looking at the numbers and seeing, especially, if there are trends. If a guy is all over the place year to year it's hard to get a feel for how he really is, but a lot of guys are very consistently at the top and I think it's, you know—Chone Figgins right now is, I believe, the top at his position and you can just see it with your eyes. So I like the numbers, I think guys are working really hard on the numbers, but I think that next generation system's really going to be the defining moment in defensive statistics."
My favorite quote:
"Baseball is a game of regression to the mean."
Anyway, Bannister was already one of my favorite players, but Marchman's semi-serious assertion got me to thinking about my other favorites. Not my all-time list, but a list of those I really like watching right now.
C-Joe Mauer: Piazza with defensive skills. Supposedly has a recording studio in his lake house where he lays down hip hop tracks. Make your own judgment.
1B-Kung Fu Panda (aka Pablo Sandoval): I love fat players. Especially fat players who can hit, and can actually run the bases. Kung Fu Panda is no Cecil Fielder in the weight department, but he fits the bill. Prince Fielder was my runner-up, for the same reason. He's actually a vegan.
2B-Chone Figgins: Plays 3B right now, but has played 2B before, and I don't really have a favorite second baseman. If I may be so bold, Figgins is about what I would imagine I would be if I played in the majors, and was a pretty good player: decent defenseman but not good enough to be a perfect fit at any position, hits a HR occasionally, hits for a low .300, steals some bases, and stretches singles in doubles. I wouldn't steal as many bases.
SS-Jose Reyes: The act can get old, but man....I miss him this year.
3B-David Wright: Again, a bit too poster boy sometimes, but how could a Met fan right now not put him on a list. And I think he's a genuinely good player, on and off the field.
LF-Matt Kemp: Actually Kemp's a center fielder but I've become a bit of a Dodger fan and he's probably my favorite Dodger.
CF-Carlos Beltran: Good at everything. Even the stuff you don't really see. I guess he's kind of like what Eric Davis would have become if he had stayed healthy.
RF-Vlad Guerrero: Every team should have someone who swings at everything that comes by, and actually hits a good percentage of them (Vlad), or someone who swings as hard as he can everytime, misses most of them, but when contact is made, loses the ball on the next street (Adam Dunn).
SP-Bannister, or Pedro
Closer-Bring back Smoltz!