At least Derek seems to be working toward making this statement true. From Pete Abe:
Jeter said that he changed his offseason workout program.
“I had done some different things this offseason to try and get
better and try and improve. Did a lot of speed (work), lot of agility,
lot of lateral movement, lot of explosive stuff to try and get quicker,
faster and move around a little bit better,” he said.
“My issue has always been putting weight on. I have a real tough
time gaining weight. In past offseasons I’d eat as much as I could to
try and gain weight because I knew once spring training came I would
lose weight. This year I basically just said this is the card I’ve been
dealt, I might as well not try to gain too much weight and just work
with what I have. Last year I had some problems with legs, so you do
whatever you can to try and strengthen your legs.”
It’s funny. I’ve been dealt a different card. It’s the one where my awful eating habits actually result in love handles and lowered self-esteem. But Derek must struggle with his lot in life, too. Good luck to him.
More than any time in Derek’s career, the sabermetricians’ dirty little secret about his fielding is becoming more mainstream. It’s like Denis Johnson’s recent ascension to literary household name–incidentally is that new book any good? The relatively obscure becomes well-known. Recent reports have Jeter directly addressing the metrics in an entirely predictable fashion ("Your system says I suck. I don’t suck. Your system sucks."). Yet I wonder if the chronically non-obese one is taking any of the criticism seriously. Might this new work-out regimen be, in part, a response to the work of people like Tom Tango or John Dewan? Jeter did actually deal with similar questions, based on sabermetricians’ work, about his fielding last season as well. Could he actually have believed there might be some truth to what they were saying, and thought to himself, I need to work on my range?
Okay, the answer is probably not. He was injured last season, and he
wanted to his legs to be stronger to fight off that possibility this
season. But I still do wonder about players’ relationship with
statistics, especially during this period. In what ways do statistics
guide players’ approaches to the game? MLBtraderumors conducted a great interview with Kansas CIty Royals pitcher Brian Bannister a while back. In one part of the interview, Bannister discussed BABIP:
Bannister: I think a lot of fans underestimate how much time I spend
working with statistics to improve my performance on the field. For
those that don’t know, the typical BABIP for starting pitchers in Major
League Baseball is around .300 give or take a few points. The common
(and valid) argument is that over the course of a pitcher’s career, he
can not control his BABIP from year-to-year (because it is random), but
over a period of time it will settle into the median range of roughly
.300 (the peak of the bell curve). Therefore, pitchers that have a
BABIP of under .300 are due to regress in subsequent years and pitchers
with a BABIP above .300 should see some improvement (assuming they are
a Major League Average pitcher).
Because I don’t have enough of a sample size yet (service time), I
don’t claim to be able to beat the .300 average year in and year out at
the Major League level. However, I also don’t feel that every pitcher
is hopelessly bound to that .300 number for his career if he takes some
steps to improve his odds – which is what pitching is all about.
One thing that I work a lot with, and that is not factored into
common statistical analysis, is what counts a pitcher pitches in most
often – regardless of what type of "stuff" he has. Most stats only
measure results, not the situations in which those results occurred. In
the common box score, an RBI is an RBI, but it doesn’t show the count,
number of outs, and number of runners on base when it occurred. For me,
the area where pitchers have the most opportunity to improve or be
better than average is in their count leverage.
Bannister is probably not your typical major leaguer or person. He comes across as more cerebral than most. But I do wonder how many players, especially the younger ones, are aware of "new" statistics such as BABIP. And I wonder how this awareness is changing them as players.