Here at NotGraphs, we are no strangers to quantifying the absurdly subjective. And yet we never rest upon what we’ve already accomplished, no matter how extraordinary. Indeed, the cry of “Excelsior!” is an oft-uttered one around the NotGraphs offices, even as oft as “CISTULLI!!” and “Wait, we have offices?” So we have spent the winter sifting through vast reams of data, in an audacious effort to best isolate what it is that the baseball fan truly cares about. And here, with pleasure and some understandable anxiety, we present the result.
First, a brief word on methods. To begin with, we compiled approximately 21 lists, all publicly available online, claiming to identify the most handsome players in professional baseball. We then developed a scoring algorithm that accounted for the number of players on each list, as well as any ranking if applicable. The result was a list of 220 active players who scored positively on our Handsome Index (HI). These scores were summed by team to produce a Team Handsomeboard, in addition to the individual version. If you are interested in the details of this fantastically sophisticated process, please contact us and we promise to disappoint you thoroughly.
Now, the Individual Handsomeboard (top 40 only):
The power of the Index is self-evident. It should come as no surprise to find notorious heartthrob Wright leading the field by a healthy margin. A conspicuous absence is that of Barry Zito, whose return to the sport is currently questionable; a dubious presence, meanwhile, is that of Jeff Francoeur, who received an invite to Cleveland’s spring training, but is not good at baseball. Derek Jeter, of course, will be departing the Board at year’s end. With perennial All-Handsome types like these fading away, it’s encouraging to see a few young bucks like Trout and Ackley (and Matt Harvey, who’s just off the Top 40 but rapidly rising) ready to fill their shoes.
Here’s the Team Handsomeboard:
What’s startling here is how firmly the Metropolitans have entrenched themselves as the team to watch. Not content with their core of Wright and Harvey, New York acted aggressively by signing handsome Curtis Granderson and Chris Young during the offseason. This put what could be decisive distance between the Mets and division rivals Philadelphia, whose aging studs may struggle to attract a younger generation of enthusiasts.
Among other high-profile acquisitions, Cano to the Mariners instantly made Seattle a force to reckon with in the AL West, though the Angels kept pace by adding David Freese. Ian Kinsler’s lady-killing move to Detroit seized the spotlight from Joe Mauer, whom the Twins have struggled to surround with new talent, in the AL Central. But the stiffest competition — and the most intriguing storylines — are in the AL East as usual, where the Yankees are counting on Ellsbury to help close the Cano gap, while the Red Sox are staking much of their claim on an unreliable Grady Sizemore. How will it all play out?
One thing’s for certain: if you want handsome, you’ve got to pay. For those of you who may not enjoy observing attractive young men, and may doubt the relevance of these numbers to the game as a whole, I give you this chart of team payroll versus Handsome Index:
Actually, one other thing is for certain, and that’s that if your sexiest player is Paul Konerko, you’re in trouble.
Stay tuned for Version 2.0 of the Index, in which we incorporate the frequency of players’ appearance in Web fanfiction.
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