- FanGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs -

All-Joy Team: Sharing = Caring

To begin this week’s episode of All-Joy Team — i.e. the show that everyone’s talking about — let’s take a look at a photo that I’ve almost definitely figured out how to insert just below these words.

What do we notice here? A couple things, I’d say. For one, that Tommy Hilfiger recognizes the dignity of all races and genders as long as the people belonging to said races and/or genders are incredibly attractive. For two — and probably more relevant to our present concern — is that the people in this picture are having a laugh-riot of a good time.

There are a couple reasons why that might be. My guess is that the guy in the middle there, with the big, weird white X on his chest, made a goofy noise or something. It’s probably not the sorta thing that you or I would’ve found funny, but these are models we’re talking about; their standards are a little different. On the other hand, that white woman on the right and the black gentleman on the lower left appear to be giving the dog a lot of attention, which leads me to believe that it (i.e. the dog) maybe barked at an opportune moment. Somone was all, “Hey, dog, do you like Tommy Hilfiger’s sweet fashions?” and then the dog was all like, “Bark! Bark!” which I definitely see could be construed as a “yes” to a bystander. Whatever. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much. What matter is this: togetherness = joy.

By contrast, look at the photo of this one guy:

See how dour he is? He’s alone. The world is all darkness for him. Probably, at any second, he’s just gonna up and shoot an Arab, right before spiraling into a vortex of existential angst. That, or he’ll just gorge himself on store-bought rotisserie chicken and watch YouTube videos until falling asleep in a pool of his own mess. Either way, things aren’t looking so hot for him. And why? On account of he’s alone, is why.

I think what this brief study proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is that, in most cases, joy only really exists when it can be shared. And if the reader is under the impression that things are somehow different when composing a fake 25-man roster whose soul purpose is to provide joy to the sabermetrically oriented — well, that reader has another thing coming.

No, sometimes the means by which we’re introduced to a player — or, at the least, to the joy-inducing qualities of that player — is when one of our sabermetric brothers takes the time to paint said player’s portrait.

Here are three (well, 2.5) cases of that (categories in parentheses):

SP: Jason Godin, Kansas City (2,3,5)
If you haven’t read our own Bryan Smith’s learned five-part series on minor-league sinkerballers, I’m kinda curious about how else you’ve been spending your time. Whatever you’re doing, stop it; it’s probably disgusting and/or bad for you. Personally, for my part, I got a tattoo of the entire thing just so I can reference it whenever I want.

Smith’s study is right in the All-Joy wheelhouse, as the entire point of it is to identify minor-leaguers (ding!) who are currently underrated (double-ding!). A man could get carried away and just pick every flipping guy on the list (which appears in the final installment), but for the sake of moderation, we’re choosing just the one.

The one is Godin, who’s not only (tied for) the oldest on the list but also a member of the Royals, which means he needs our prayers and well-wishing the most.

Here’s Smith’s brief profile of the right-hander:

Level       BB/9   K/9   HR/9   GB%    BABIP
A-/AA/AAA   4.2    7.4   0.3    60.0   .356

Godin came back slow after a facial fracture ended his season short in 2008, but he’s shown signs of really making good on that fifth round choice in 2006. I truly believe the Royals should be aggressive with Godin, who has a career 58.9 groundball percentage. The tools to be a viable Major League reliever all seem there to me.

So not only is Godin probably underrated, but he’s also recently returned from a broken face.

That feeling welling up in your chest? That’s unadulterated joy, friend.

C: Kurt Suzuki, Oakland (1,5)
Some days you’re just minding your business, browsing the interweb absentmindedly, and then — bizam — Matt Klaassen drops an article about how underrated a certain A’s catcher is. Not only that, but he prefaces his profile of said A’s catcher by asking, “What makes a baseball player underrated?” Luckily, he answers the question, too. Regard:

It can be a number of things: not playing for a contender, not playing in a big market, not being verbose with the media, and, of course, not having skills that are commonly remarked upon. While I don’t know about Kurt Suzuki’s clubhouse witticisms one way or the other (one interview can be found here), I do know that he seems to meet the rest of the requirements.

What we learn in said article is how exactly Suzuki meets said requirements. But just as striking as Suzuki’s credentials is the thoughtful way that Klaassen lays them out. It’s impossible, after reading the article, for the reader to separate Suzuki from Klaassen’s interest in him. The fact that Klaassen has chosen Suzuki, to the exception of other players, means something.

CF: Ryan Sweeney, Oakland (1,5)
Hear me now and, if you have time, believe me now, too: Ryan Sweeney is Franklin Gutierrez two years ago. He’s two years younger*, playing a sweet right field in limited playing time, and receiving almost nothing in the way of kudos and/or accolades.

*Actually, almost exactly. Gutierrez: 2/21/1983. Sweeney: 2/20/1985

And while someone smarter than me will undoubtedly bring up the fifty-hundred exceptions to my armchair analysis of Sweeney, one person who’s totally willing to participate in the delusion is my friend Danny. Sometimes, just hanging around and watching the Blazers, one of us will say, “Hey, how awesome is it gonna be to watch Ryan Sweeney this year?” To which the other replies: “Pretty flipping awesome, dude.” Basically, it’s like an episode of that old TV show “Bosom Buddies”, except without the dressing up as women part.