The myths of mediocrity
Thursday, August 16, 2007
It's Mediocre Month at We Rite Goode...where in the spirit of things, we're only devoting two weeks to celebrating lousiness. Yes, as August limps to a close, we shuffle along with it, thinking of the most awful-yet-great athletes who made us grin or, more likely, groan. I'll let Pedro Cerrano take it away...--Crucifictorious
Mediocrity, especially in baseball, has many definitions. Some players are simply average to below-average at everything they do. They do little more than fill roster spots and clutter a boy's card collection, prompting his mother to sell the whole shoebox for $5.
Other players might be a flash in the pan - 1994 AL Rookie of the Year Bob Hamelin, he who stole the award from Manny Ramirez, promptly comes to mind. 3 out of 4 Yankees' minor leaguers who have a good game and thereby become featured on ESPN.com for days also fall into this category (Joba Chamberlain, you're on notice).
But mediocrity has another, far more special, category. These players are truly special as they have a skill that propels them above their peers. And yet they simply cannot even come close to being adequate in other skills. This combination relegates them to the pile of the especially mediocre.
The true exemplar, the very torch-bearer of Mediocrity in baseball, is Russell Branyan. Russell actually has the distinction of being one of the most extreme players in two categories: sheer power and whiffing.
Branyan's towering blasts to deep left, really deep center, and really, really deep right are the stuff of legend. It is almost appropriate to squint just a bit when you look at his name and intentionally confuse him with Paul Bunyan. Like this hero of tall tales, Branyan can swing the big lumber. If chicks dig the long ball, they cannot resist Russell.
Sadly, such power does not come without a price. Like Midas, whose golden touch led to his downfall, Branyan's singular ability to crush a tiny ball of cowhide and yarn farther than any human alive is both his blessing and his curse. For in taking his mighty cuts, Russell Branyan strikes out at an unbelievable rate. In his career, Branyan has recorded 1829 official at-bats, and he has struck out 735 times. That averages for a strikeout per at-bat ratio of 0.402, or 2 out of every 5 at-bats. Compare that, for instance, to the 2007 AL leader in strikeouts (as of this post), Grady Sizemore who, in addition to being a far more complete player than Branyan, has 124 Ks in 475 at-bats, or 26% of the time. Contrast it with current player David Eckstein (1 in 20) or former player and Boston whipping-boy Bill Buckner (1 in 21).
In fact, Branyan is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from these choosy swingers on the Lowest K ratio of all time list. Branyan's career strikeout average is worse than the NL single-season record, and very close to the AL.
There are uses for this, er, skill. Recently, the Cleveland Indians launched MLB's first green stadium initiative by installing solar panels at The Jake. It is rumored that Philadelphia, who picked Branyan up last week, is hoping to hook him up to a generator, allowing this wind machine to power the stadium lights.
posted by Pedro Cerrano @ 20:37,
- At September 9, 2014 at 4:04 AM, what is a cv said...
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