Your NL wild card Jedi survival pack

Dear creator of the Star Wars Visual Dictionary,

Do you like Sabermetrics? I bet you do. I know this because you’ve landed at the perfect website to feed your craving. Before you read this, you should know for years I’ve cursed you. Yes, I’m sorry, but it’s true.

For however entertaining and engaging the actual Star Wars movies are, your visual dictionary is not. When it’s 8 o’clock at night and the bedtime story choosers pick your Star Wars Visual Dictionary for me to read, I begin cursing the very galaxy you came from. I’m sure any other time of the day your visual dictionary is compelling, but at night children should listen to Goodnight Moon. It’s relaxing, smallish in size, and a quick, simple read.

Your ginormous 270-page dictionary about the creatures from the Star Wars saga is not only difficult to hold upright, but exactly the opposite of what we want at bedtime—easy and quick. This we never get. For all the countless hours I’ve spent reading about the Pressurized g-suit of Luke Skywalker, with all the data cylinders, safe passage documents for downed pilots, flight gauntlets, gear harnesses, signal flares and wrist seals, I must say I am now very thankful for your brilliance, and will put it to good use. Would you like to know which teams in the NL Wild Card race have the most Jedi survival materials? I thought so.

For the purposes of evaluating teams based on Jedi characteristics, the unstable galaxy of the NL West allows me to throw (stretching somewhat) four teams in the mix for the NL Wild Card. For each Jedi characteristic the teams will receive a ranking from one to four. The most points for all categories will be our playoff-ready team.

Team W/L (before Sunday’s games)
San Diego 87/67 4
Atlanta 87/68 3
San Francisco 87/68 2
Colorado 83/71 1

1. Rugged Travel Boots For Jedi missions rugged travel boots are needed. The same can be said for baseball teams who want to cover some ground in the Wild Card standings. Home field advantage could, as always, be a factor. The team that travels well will be more Jedi ready than others.

Team home vs. road ranking
San Diego 44-32 43-35 4
San Francisco 45-30 42-38 3
Atlanta 52-23 35-45 2
Colorado 52-25 31-46 1

2. Tunic that will adapt to different environments On Tatooine the tunic keeps the sand away, on Hoth the Jedi will be prepared for cold and ice. A true Jedi will perform even out of his comfort zone. Which teams have a defense best equipped to make a play out of zone?

OOZ ranking
Atlanta 447 4
San Diego 417 3
San Francisco 392 2
Rockies 371 1

3. Balance ready stance With a balance ready stance it’s harder to knock down a Jedi. Likewise, the more times a team has balls that fall in for hits, the harder it’s going to be to knock it down.

BABIP ranking
Colorado .314 4
Atlanta .302 3
San Francisco .294 2
San Diego .292 1

4. Weirdo hair Throughout the different phases of his life a Jedi does odd things with his hair. Which teams have more players with weird hairdos? For some reason Fangraphs doesn’t keep this stat, so assuming I didn’t miss any player who had a rally hair cut over the weekend, Tim Lincecum, and his legendary long hair skewed all the results on this one. San Francisco wins this category.

5. Patience A Jedi must have patience to complete the years and years of training needed to reach his ultimate goal. Similarly, batters need patience to keep from swinging at pitches thrown to them outside the strike zone.

Swing percentage ranking
Atlanta 27.4% 4
San Diego 28.8% 3
Rockies 29.0% 2
San Francisco 32.4% 1

6. LightsaberThe Lightsaber is the Jedi’s most powerful weapon. Using one is a subtle and intricate art. Generally, the Lightsaber is used not to attack, but defend. Well, fine—but for the purposes of analyzing baseball ability, the Lightsaber has to stand for how a player can handle the bat.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

Team SLG ranking
Colorado .431 4
San Francisco .407 3
Atlanta .401 2
San Diego .375 1

7. Heroic act The Jedi are known for their heroic acts. It’s enjoyable to interview ex-ballplayers on clutch hitting, but it’s no fun to evaluate something we’re not quite sure exists. So, we’ll stay away from clutch hits and go to the comfortable heroic act—home runs.

Teams HR ranking
Colorado 167 4
San Francisco 152 3
Atlanta 134 2
San Diego 126 1

8. Mechanical hand The Jedi can have maimed body parts replaced with mechanical parts. Many starting pitchers seem to have bionic arms. Jedi worthy teams have the most pitchers with Cyborg-like arms. These pitchers will fare well regardless of the defense behind them.

Starting pitchers’ FIP ranking
Colorado 3.83 4
San Francisco 3.89 3
Atlanta 3.94 2
San Diego 4.07 1

After all the teams have been tallied our rankings look like this:

1. Atlanta with 22 points
2. Colorado with 21 points
3. San Francisco with 19 points
4. San Diego with 18 points

We still have the problem of the Weirdo Hair category don’t we? We can give San Francisco an extra point, just for having a pitcher who doesn’t like short hair, or the balls in Colorado. So that gives us:

1. Atlanta with 22 points
2. Colorado with 21 points
3. San Francisco with 20 points
4. San Diego with 18 points

Mr. inventor of the Star Wars Visual Dictionary, should Atlanta enter the playoffs as the NL Wild Card team for 2010, I believe your next visual dictionary ought to be, The Ultimate Guide to Characters and Creatures around Major League Baseball. Now that would be a bedtime story that would interest me exceedingly.

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