The Name Game
by, 03-04-2013 at 11:12 AM (812 Views)
Everybody has a name. Some people hate their name. Some people like their name. Most people think their name is irrelevant to their future success. This is a lie. Your name matters. Especially in sports.
In early spring when birds are chirping, grass is greening, and clichés are appearing as far as the internet can see, another phenomenon is taking place: prospect lists are popping up like the carcasses of northbound migratory birds that were sucked into the jet engines of airplanes full of Northerners heading south to escape the cold.
What do these prospect lists hold? Promise. Future. Hope—all the things that make sports great. We argue and debate the top prospects and can never be wrong, because none of the players have a major league track record to draw from.
We point to OPS, BABIP, WAR, UZR and all kinds of other statistics that sound like models of high powered weaponry to judge how successful a prospect will be. But are we using the correct methods for measuring prospects?
The short answer? No. The long answer? Also no.
What are we missing when it comes to a successful prospect? We have more stats than ever for nerds, and more reliable laser eye surgery than ever for the eye-judges. So how can we be going wrong?
For the answer, I present to you Jose (J.O.) Berrios. His names present two paths: Path one is of Jose Berrios, a hard-throwing bulldog with exceptional stuff and SABR-numbers waiting to be unsheathed on Major League Baseball. Path two is of J.O. Berrios, a hard-throwing bulldog with exceptional stuff and SABR-numbers destined to remain sheathed in Minor League Baseball, much like J.D. Durbin and B.J. Garbe before him.
The difference is his name. Jose Berrios is the name of a man who pitches every fifth day and strikes fear into opposing batters. J.O. Berrios, whose 7.50 September ERA is as annual as Labor Day, strikes fear into nobody.
Berrios’s future is in his own hands, and it is based on what name he chooses.
Take the rest of the Twins Daily top prospects:
10. Max Kepler
9. Trevor May
8. J.O. Berrios
7. Eddie Rosario
6. Kyle Gibson
5. Alex Meyer
4. Oswaldo Arcia
3. Aaron Hicks
2. Byron Buxton
1. Miguel Sano
Aside from the alarming use of J.O. instead of Jose Berrios, that is a pretty great list of names. There is a good mix of solid, classic-sounding names like Trevor May, Kyle Gibson and Aaron Hicks, with unique-but-not-overbearing names like Oswaldo Arcia, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. I have confidence in those names. They sound athletic.
However, there is a little concern that some of the names are TOO common. For example, try interchanging the more common names: Trevor Gibson is the frat guy who hits on everyone else’s girlfriend at parties. Aaron May is the guy who calls you to offer amazing new rates on car insurance. And Kyle Hicks is the guy at work who is too busy telling everyone how much he knows about everything to actually do any work.
You see the problem here? These common names can go either way because they’re just so damn common.
Sadly, there is no perfect formula to predicting the success of a prospect. We all know that. No test will ever be an exact science, but never underestimate the importance of a name.
There is still a chance guys like May, Gibson and Meyer could go the way of Adam Johnson or Matt Moses. Names that were too common for their own good. Or they could go the way of Randy Johnson. It’s impossible to say.
All I know is you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a name.