I think we can all agree that stats are pretty dumb, right?
I mean, why talk about things like stats, when storylines fit so much more nicely with generalizations? Rather than use silly things like facts, I think we should watch the players and then kind of guess. That’s where intangibles come in.
I think we’ve done quite enough about stats here at Fire Brand, so instead, I’m going to break down some notable Red Sox in terms of their most valuable intangibles.
Jacoby Ellsbury: The “It” Factor
Stat nerds will tell you that Ellsbury hasn’t been as good this season as he was in 2011. They’ll tell you his power has vanished and his on-base percentage has regressed. They will point out that he’s missed much of the past three seasons with injury. This somehow means the Red Sox should not bring him back this offseason.
I’ll tell you that Jacoby Ellsbury is worth keeping because he has “it.” I don’t know what “it” is; in fact, nobody knows what “it” is, because “it” is indefinable term, but he has “it.” “It” is definitely there. You don’t become an MVP candidate like he did in 2011 without “it,” that’s for sure.
Ellsbury does have “it,” and that’s why he needs to be re-signed.
Shane Victorino: Veteran Leadership
The 2012 Red Sox didn’t fall apart because of underperforming players, poor management, or anything like that. They fell apart because they didn’t have a /leader/.
A leader, of course, has to be a player in his late-30s, who is well-respected throughout the league and generally a “clubhouse guy.” He can’t be a home run hitter, though; he has to be somebody who plays the game in a “smarter” way that utilizes his knowledge and veteran trickiness. Michael Young is a great example.
Victorino fills that role with the 2013 Red Sox, and it’s not a stretch to think that his presence on the team could make them win as many as 20 more games this year, despite what the stat geeks “WAR” will tell you.
Dustin Pedroia: Scrappiness
There’s more to Dustin Pedroia than any stat will tell you. Stats can’t show you the most important part of his game: hustle.
Stats don’t portray how Pedroia runs the bases as hard as he can, or how he’s a short, white guy who plays in the major leagues despite being short and white. He’s the Wes Welker of the MLB, except he’s not a traitor like Welker. Pedroia is the kind of player who will throw himself into second base with no regard for his own safety – even if an injury would reduce his effectiveness for a longer span of time than an out – and make the extra play that can decide a game.
Mike Napoli: Grit
Mike Napoli is currently playing on a degrading hip. If that’s not gritty, then I don’t know what is.
David Ortiz: Champion
Most stat-heads will attribute Ortiz’s resurgence to an improved plate approach, reduced strikeout rate, and improved effectiveness against left-handed pitching.
A better reason, though, is that Ortiz has the heart of a champion. Champions know how to play baseball, and Ortiz definitely knows how to play baseball. It takes a real winner to play at the age Ortiz is playing, and that’s why he’s been effective.
Also, Ortiz’s championship experience will prove invaluable to a 2013 team looking to win a title. His experience in having been there before will give the Red Sox an edge in the playoffs, because, as we all know, you can’t win a championship unless you’ve won one before. That’s scientific fact.
Stephen Drew: None
Jose Iglesias: Underappreciation
Being underappreciated is not a character trait, but that doesn’t matter. Stat dorks thought Jose Iglesias couldn’t hit in the major leagues because he had never been able to hit at any other level ever, but the joke’s on them. Iglesias is hitting .447 – better than Ted Williams ever hit – and looks like he’ll be able to maintain this pace forever.
It’s no doubt due to his “Nobody believed in me (and now only Nick Cafardo believes in me)” attitude.
(Disclamer: The above words were written in parody. If you take any of the above seriously, please turn off your computer and contact your health care provider. Thank you.)