The All-Joy Team, Observations and First Pick

In my last dispatch, I introduced and intimated that I would submit for the reader’s consideration what one — if one were feeling bold — what one might call an All-Joy Team. In the what follows, I intend to continue that effort.

Having spent the last two days in solitude, on a diet of only water, prayerful introspection, and printed-out spreadsheets, I have come to some conclusions about what an enterprise such as this entails.

First is that it’d be imprudent to release the names of the entire All-Joy Team at once. Why? you might ask. Well, because to do so might cause all our hearts to explode from too much beauty — like we were all, collectively, watching a plastic bag caught in a swirling wind. The last thing this world needs is a bunch of people’s hearts exploding because of a sweet baseball article. Embarrassing!

Second is that, beyond the numbers and the commentariat’s very courteous and heart-felt suggestions, I have also utilized — sometimes to a greater, sometimes to a lesser degree — the faculty of Intuition. I’ve done this for a couple reasons. For one, because it’s inherent to an exercise such as this one, where how a player makes us feel is of great concern. I often think that when baseball writers are talking about if a player is good or not, what they really mean to say how the player makes them feel. Like anytime any New York sportswriter has ever said “ARod is bad at baseball” — which, they say that, I think — what that guy really means is “I don’t like ARod for some reason.” The latter of those comments is totally legitimate. The problem is when the sportswriter gets confused, when he tries to make a comment about talent, as opposed to taste.

And for two — in re Intuition — I’ve used it because I have a great deal of respect for that giant computer called the human brain. Like, did you know it can cure ichthyosis? I didn’t. But it can, apparently. Also, it does a lot of other things that are pretty amazing. Like allows us to breathe and digest without great mental effort.

Third is that — and this is a little bit similar to the second point — but third is that the second an enterprise such as this one begins to feel like work, the second that the constraints become a burden, the magic of the endeavor is lost. As my main man Ralph Waldo was accustomed to saying, sometimes you’ve just gotta write “Whim” on the lintels of your frigging door-post. It’s in that spirit that, on occasion, I have said — I will say — “Funk dat.” It’s also in that spirit that I will be submitting players in no particular order.

To remind the reader, here is the set of criteria with which I’ll be picking:

1. An MLB player whose advanced metrics (i.e. EqA, wOBA, VORP, UZR – really anything that attempts to improve upon AVG, HR, and RBIs) suggest greater production than is commonly perceived.

2. An MLB player whose peripheral numbers (i.e. xFIP, PrOPS, tRA) suggest greater production in near future.

3. Either an MLB part-timer or older (27 and up) minor leaguer whose production suggests probable success in expanded MLB role.

4. A younger (under 27) minor leaguer, but not top prospect, whose minor league numbers suggest success at the MLB level.

5. A player who demonstrates vigorously what Americans, quoting French poorly, call je ne sais quoi.

Furthermore, before I forget to say it, the idea is to submit an entire 25 man roster that reflects players that are currently of interest.

I’ll get started with the team in earnest next week. To whet the appetite, though, I present my number one guy here (relevant categories in parentheses):

RF: Daniel Nava, Boston (3, 5)
I don’t care what anyone says, Nava’s the player about whom I’m more excited than any other right now. Last year, as a 26-year-old, he started the season in High-A ball. That doesn’t exactly scream “prospect,” right? You know what else doesn’t exactly scream “prospect”? Everything else about him. Regard, from Sox Prospects:

Initially cut as a walk on at Santa Clara, Nava went to JuCo and excelled, ultimately returning to Santa Clara for his senior season. He went undrafted and again proved the doubters wrong by doing extremely well in independent baseball in 2007, earning the spot as Baseball America’s #1 independent prospect. He then proceeded to win the California League batting crown in 2008, albeit at the age of 25. Following an early-season injury in 2009, he went on to dominate the Carolina League and the Eastern League in limited at bats.

Despite the absence of anything like a draft pedigree, Nava posted an MLE of .274/.355/.407 across High-A and Double-A last year — that according to Minor League Splits. Baseball Prospectus rates his 124 Double-A ABs as a major league equivalent of .298/.374/.460 — the best in the Eastern League. The fact is that Nava has never played poorly, regardless of where he’s been. Plus, he went to Santa Clara — i.e. Steve Nash’s alma mater — which I think adds to the mystique somehow.

Will Nava play for the Red Sox this year? Probably not. What’d be nice, though, is to see him traded to a second division-type team and get some playing time. CHONE has him at .250/.328/.365 with a -3 run glove. That’s not so great. How about my heart, though? My heart has him forecasted as like a .311/.403/.487 with plus fielding.

My heart versus CHONE: A battle to the death!!!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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The Boomer
The Boomer

I actually saw him play last year in Portland. He’s not bad. But you’re right, he’s stuck behind a major Boston outfield logjam unless/until Ellsbury, Kalish, Reddick, and/or Westmoreland are traded and Drew’s contract is up.