Trust your eyes more than numbers

December 9, 2009

Sabre-metricians and statisticians say they can determine the success of a player largely by using stats/mathematical formulas, and to some extent, I think you can. A high OBP or OPS can go a long ways in determining the value of a player, but should numbers and math equations be the only way we judge talent?

The answer is simple: No.

During this age of increased technology, an important part of scouting has gone by the wayside: the good, old-fashioned eye test. All the numbers in the world can’t determine how well a player will perform on a different team or in the clutch.

Brosius hit .203 the year before being traded to New York.

So let’s not get carried away with BABAP, zone ratings, zone factors and other stats because if we did, the Yankees wouldn’t have acquired some of the integral parts that made up the dynasty teams of the late 90s. Let’s look at some players who would not have been Yankees if they were judged solely on numbers.

1. Scott Brosius — Before the third baseman came over in a trade from Oakland in 1998, he hit .203 the previous season. Yankees General Manager Stick Michaels saw something he liked in Brosius and pulled the trigger on the deal, sending Kenny Rogers to Oakland. The next year, Brosius hit .302 and then won a Gold Glove in 1999. In the 2001 World Series versus the D-Backs, he hit a walk-off home run in Game 5.

2. Paul O’Neill – In seven years with Cincinnati, O’Neill never eclipsed a .275 batting average. When the Yankees traded high hopes OF Roberto Kelly for O’Neill in 1992, fans were outraged that the Yanks gave up on the young Kelly. O’Neill went on to hit over .300 for six consecutive seasons with the Yanks and proved himself to be one of the most loved Yankees of all-time.

3. Luis Sojo — During his years in Seattle, Sojo never batted .300. When he came to the Yankees in 1997, he batted .307 in his first year. In October 2000, Sojo turned from a role player to a World Series hero in the decisive Game 5 of the Subway Series against the New York Mets. With the score tied at two in the ninth inning and two outs, Sojo delivered a two-RBI single against Al Leiter

Tino Martinez was a key cog in the dynasty years.

4. Tino Martinez — When Tino came to the Yanks in 1996, he had to fill the role of replacement to Don Mattingly. Not an easy feat. Martinez hit two memorable home runs as a Yankee in the World Series. The first came off Mark Langston in Game 1 of the 1998 Series. The second came on October 31, 2001. With two outs in the 9th inning and the Yankees trailing by two runs, Martinez came to the plate with a runner on. He hit a home run to right center off Arizona Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim. But did you know that from 1998-2000, Martinez batted .281, .263 and .258 for the Yankees?

I hope this shows that you can’t always go by the numbers to determine a player’s worth. You have to watch them play with your own eyes and see what they bring to the table, not just take what the numbers say as gospel.

With that in mind, I’m saying it now, Curtis Granderson will be a stud in pinstripes.


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