Rambles about Intangibles

Stats are totally overrated.

He is just coated in grit.Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor

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.

Miguel Cabrera has “it.” Mike Trout did not have “it.” That’s why Miguel Cabrera won MVP, and Trout did not.

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

Stephen Drew does not have any good intangibles, because Stephen Drew is the worst and no stats can convince me otherwise.

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.)

Categories: Boston Red Sox David Ortiz Dustin Pedroia Jacoby Ellsbury Jose Iglesias Mike Napoli Shane Victorino

I'm currently an undergraduate Multimedia Journalism major at Virginia Tech and, with over 630 followers, you could say I'm kind of a big deal on Twitter dot com. I'm Fire Brand's Monday columnist, the creator of the TrollBag (sorry about that) and also the guy who writes those polls every week. I tweet far too much, but you should follow me anyways.

54 Responses to “Rambles about Intangibles” Subscribe

  1. Tim Brooks June 16, 2013 at 9:09 AM #

    Ah, we are the point that we need to write sarcasm disclaimers, when sarcasm is evident. Thank you, Internet!

  2. Taylor June 16, 2013 at 11:40 PM #

    Although stats clearly are highly revealing, I disagree with most of this. This team is clearly having a lot more fun working together, and as a result they are taking more pride in what they do and who they are representing every time they lace up their cleats.

    Bringing in a guy like Jonny Gomes, was highly evident of a change in culture. He can't hit eighties to save his life, but seeing him dive home on opening night with an already insurmountable lead shows up as one run in your precious numbers, but that kind of thing makes an hour impact on the way other guys in the dugout do their things. David Ortiz has earned that role as a champion because of the continuous game winning home runs he hits when it matters most. Although we need to pad right field to keep Shane Victorino healthy, he is another guy that gives it his all every time. I personally have never met any of these men, however watching them play baseball nearly each and every night, you do notice the fact that Dustin Pedroia is always going to end up covered head to toe in dirt trying to push himself and his team to the next level. If "it" is the ability to change any game in the box, on the bases, or in the field, then yeah he's got it. But he got caught stealing for the third time on the season, bet that will hurt his WAR. As an athlete, as part of a team you have to do everything you can for each and everyone of your brothers and that is exactly what this 2013 Red Sox team is doing. They care about what they are working towards and don't care what the vicious Boston media has to say about it

  3. Chip Buck June 17, 2013 at 7:10 AM #

    I really can't tell of Taylor's comment was serious or the greatest dead pan troll job ever. If it's the latter, I wholeheartedly appreciate it.

    If it's the former, though, I'm a bit more concerned. "Giving it your all", "playing the game the right way", and "having the attitude of a champion" are all nice things to say about a player, but they're pretty meaningless. I'm not saying they don't have some effect in winning baseball games, but it's pretty meaningful. It's not the kind of thing that takes a 69 win team to a 90+ win team. It might add a win or two, but that's it. LIke it or not, performance is the only way to wins. If "wanting it" was all it took to be a champion, there'd be a lot of undersized, scrappy white guys winning MVP awards. Instead, it's only Dustin Pedroia–and why? Because he has talent.

    • Hunter Golden June 18, 2013 at 3:00 PM #

      More to that, the Yankees of the 1970's hated each other… The Red Sox teams from 1912-1918 *really* hated each other and won plenty-o-titles… Nice that everyone gets along and sings songs of love and affection together, but hardly an indicator of whether a team is good or not and certainly not enough to take a 69 win team to a 90+ win team… so there's that for whatever it's worth..

    • Taylor June 23, 2013 at 11:27 AM #

      Thanks for your concern, however I'm saddened by both of your close minded natures. Last I checked this team hadn't won 90 games yet. But looking at Bucchholz season, he looks like the confident Clay of years past (under guess who?) Intangibles go far beyond what some blog writer does to hit his deadline without any real thought involved, intangibles include the motivation needed to comeback and win a game after your closer blows two in a row. It includes guys helping each other out when having a hard time and it makes a bigger difference than you clearly realize. Otherwise we would have morons like yourself writing the lineups, and if we thought Bobby V was bad… For what its worth….

  4. Marcos June 17, 2013 at 10:41 AM #

    I know we all like Jose Iglesias. But Drew is a very valuable player, let's not confuse him Julio Lugo.

    • Chip Buck June 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM #

      This X 1000

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