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Archive for May 17th, 2007

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Smells Like Pujols is a regular feature for baseball season, in which I compare current rookie position players to the awesome ROY season turned in by Albert Pujols in 2001. I am blatantly abusing the Similarity Scores measurement by turning it into an absolute measure of comparison in which Albert is a fixed point that all others aspire to. In my method, a rook on a hot streak can actually exceed Albert’s fixed score of 1000, but it’s usually temporary. If you want to know how the spankin’ new pitchers are doing, please read Mr. Thursday’s companion piece GoodEnough for Me, in which Doc Gooden’s rookie year sets the standard.

I’ve avoided putting up stats early in the season because I had way, way too many players to monitor, and didn’t really relish the idea of typing numbers in a table all day.   As of this week, however, I’ve decided that the leaderboard will only display contenders who are above the 700 point barrier. Establishing a cutoff point allows me to put up tables of fairly reasonable size, and we don’t have to watch Gordon or Kouzmanoff suck pond water in the process. So, here’s a look at our top group of rookies, using stats from Baseball Reference:

Rookie Cutoff=130 AB

Name Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG SLG Score
Albert Pujols STL 161 590 112 194 47 4 37 130 69 93 1 .329 .610 1000
Tony Gwynn, Jr. MIL 28 36 6 15 1 1 0 6 6 5 4 .417 .500 954
Hunter Pence HOU 16 62 8 22 4 2 4 15 3 8 2 .355 .677 902
Akinori Iwamura TB 18 56 15 19 3 1 1 5 15 10 3 .339 .482 869
Josh Hamilton CIN 36 117 20 31 5 1 8 18 13 24 3 .265 .530 820
Chris B. Young AZ 36 136 19 35 9 0 6 18 7 21 5 .257 .456 797
Dustin Pedroia BOS 30 85 12 22 6 0 1 7 7 12 0 .259 .365 732
Elijah Dukes TB 30 111 19 25 3 0 7 12 18 27 2 .225 .338 728
Tony Pena, Jr. KC 41 144 15 36 3 5 0 12 6 29 3 .250 .340 725
Miguel Montero AZ 24 54 7 13 1 0 2 10 4 8 0 .241 .370 714
Troy Tulowitzki COL 36 139 19 34 5 2 2 16 14 32 1 .245 .353 714
Felix Pie CHC 18 49 6 11 3 1 1 4 1 10 0 .224 .388 705
Delmon Young TB 39 151 20 36 6 0 4 17 10 35 2 .238 .358 703
Chris Snelling OAK 30 69 10 17 1 1 1 7 14 15 0 .246 .333 702

The obvious disparity right now comes in the area of at-bats. In the Similarity Scores concept, a full 75 at-bats equals one point of difference. Some of these guys haven’t even had 75 ABs total this season, but they are not penalized very heavily for it. So Gwynn, Jr. and Hunter Pence are probably ranked a tad high, but I’m sticking with my system, secure in the knowledge that the remainder of the season will most likely sort out any statistical anomalies over time.

We’ll keep an eye on these guys, but right now it’s the Scion of Gwynn Manor who smells the most like Pujols.

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This morning I dropped my son off at pre-school and he was doing his usual-pinballing around like a young, white Barry Sanders. At one point he ran at me for a goodbye hug and I did the fake juke and stiff-arm because I crave the acceptance that only laughter can bring, even if it’s from day-care lunch ladies.

But as I walked on from there to work, I realized that I really miss the stiff-arm. So many teams have gone to offenses that “get the running back in space”, we rarely see the power-back just drop somebody, which is, really, one of the best things in football. So here’s some video from the college ranks, just so we can remember what we’ll be missing for the next three months.

I guess it’s important to note that in this example, the running back was “in space”, and still used the stiff-arm, so perhaps it’s more a question of desire and ability than one of opportunity.

And then here’s one from the playground. It really reveals the stiff-arm for what it is – a blatant slap in the face of an overmatched opponent:

Man, I can’t wait for football season.

UPDATE: Reader Joe linked this outstanding SI photo of LaDanian Tomlinson administering a stiff-arm, so I’m going to share.  Thanks, Joe!

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