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Intangibles

Mike SteffanosWednesday, March 1, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


Regular readers know that over the last couple of days, there has been some discussion about statistical analysis being viewed as some sort of absolute authority in judging a baseball player -- in this particular case, Jose Reyes. My problem isn't with the analysis itself, which I believe is a valid part on assessing past performance and, to a somewhat lesser degree, has some use in predicting future performance.

This type of analysis is nothing more than a tool. When used in conjunction with solid baseball knowledge and understanding, it is useful. Unfortunately, analysis can be viewed by intelligent, arrogant, close-minded individuals as a be-all and end-all in itself. That was my point in two previous posts and an argument I had today with a poster child for this type of smug, intellectually constricted thinking. We'll try this one more time before we drop this completely.

In baseball, as in life, there are certain intangibles that people bring to the table. Just because you can't invent a metric to measure them doesn't invalidate them. Have you ever seen a girl who really isn't all that pretty, but has a personality that gives her an attraction and sexiness out of proportion to her god-given looks? That's an intangible. Have you ever known someone that when the chips were down always seems to find a way to come through? That's another intangible. Have you ever known someone to succeed in life far beyond what an I.Q. test would reveal? That's an intangible, also.

During Brett Boone's news conference this afternoon, he spoke of watching Jose Reyes scamper around at the end of a long, hot workout -- the love of the game shining through his smile. Boone made a point of saying that he thought Reyes was going to be a hell of a player. Boone was recognizing an intangible in Reyes. But there is more to Reyes than a nice disposition and a sunny smile.

Some players are able to impose themselves on a game far beyond what mere numbers say. They command attention on a baseball field. Reyes has already shown flashes of being that player. He loves the spotlight, and thrives in the fishbowl that is New York. He'll be fine.

He may learn to be a very good leadoff hitter, or he might eventually be moved down in the order. He might indeed become a "superstar" -- one of the most overused words in sport by the way -- or he might be just a good player that brings some excitement. Whatever -- but at 22, his future is still ahead of him. I just hope that he remains healthy and gets a chance to become whatever he is to become. We'll let that be my final word on this subject.

Mets.com: Wagner on opting out of the WBC
Bryan Hoch quotes Billy Wagner on why he chose today not to take part in the World Baseball Classic:

I've done everything I can do to be ready for it. Physically, I just don't think it's there. A lot of guys can turn it up. I can't.

... I just didn't feel like I was ready yet. I didn't feel like I could, in good conscience, go out and try to push myself to that next level in early March. It's something that could turn out and I could hurt myself, and that's something I want to stay away from, because I want to go out there and do what's right for me and my future.

I think you would be hard-pressed to find any Mets fan upset about this.

Mets.com: Brett Boone
Marty Noble has an excellent piece on Boone's retirement.

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