The day after those North American Scum, the Kansas City Royals DFA’d Hideo Nomo, budding phenom Luke Hochevar was clobbered by Oakland, allowing 9 runs and 6 earned runs in fewer than 5 innings. Hochevar’s teammate, former Met Brian Bannister was similarly abused by the A’s on Friday, and despite taking it on the chin for his first loss of ’08, Bannister’s alleged appreciation for “new wave statistics” finds the right-hander being lionized as “a person who had the capacity to absorb it all, the open-mindedness to realize its potential, and the imagination to make it work for him” by the Seattle Times’ Larry Stone.
When the Royals were in Seattle this past week, I asked Bannister how familiar he was with such esoteric terms (in the mainstream, at least) as BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and VORP (value over replacement player). He rolled his eyes, as if I had just asked him two plus two.
“It’s like the ‘Good Will Hunting’ line ” ‘This stuff is so easy to me,’ ” he said, but not in a boastful fashion.
Bannister is well beyond the rudimentary stage of study. Ask him how deeply he has delved into statistical analysis, and he says, “Oh, as deep as anybody. I’ve gone as deep as you could go, so far.”
If there’s a Web site or book that presents some provocative new way of looking at baseball and its numbers, chances are strong Bannister has checked it out.
“What it has stirred up is really fun,” he said. “Because here’s a whole group of baseball fans that were kind of outcasts, or ignored, or everyone said they were crazy.
“The truth is coming out that they have some interesting things to say. If I can bridge that gap a little bit, I’m happy to do that.”
Trust me, this is not the prevailing point of view in the clubhouse. More typical is the response of Willie McGee, whom I covered in the early 1990s. I once asked Willie, then with the Giants, about some statistical anomaly in his rÃ©sumÃ© ” an uncommonly high average in day games, if I recall.
“I don’t know about that,” he said dismissively. “I ain’t no Bob James.”
No, indeed he was not.
The following sentence from Anthony Witrado’s autopsy of Milwaukee’s 4-3 loss to Cincinnati in 10 innings is all you really need to know about how Eric GagnÃ© fared.
“Brewers manager Ned Yost said he had no problem bringing GagnÃ© in on a fourth consecutive day because the closer said he felt fine.”
In the future, Yost might want to challenge GagnÃ©’s credibility. Or build a time machine and resign Francisco Cordero.