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Free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series. As in other recent offseasons, FanGraphs is once again facilitating this offseason a contract-crowdsourcing project, the idea being to harness the wisdom of the crowds to the end of better understanding the 2018-19 free-agent market.
Meg Rowley is the managing editor of The Hardball Times. She’s also the guest on this edition of the program, during which she reviews some of the recent work at THT. Also: the discreet charm of Alex Bregman. And: the miracle of Josh James.
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Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 0 min play time.)
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Every year since 2005, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) has selected one player for what’s known as the Heart & Hustle Award. The distinction is intended to honor “an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” The idea is to recognize traits such as “determination” and “desire” and other qualities one appreciates in ballplayers but abhors in friends.
These considerations are, of course, typically absent from the pages of FanGraphs dot com. That’s the case for a number of reasons, but mostly because — as critics of the site have long suspected — our mothers never loved us. Indeed, certain employees of FanGraphs never even had mothers, but instead emerged fully formed from an algorithm devised by Billy Beane and Bill James when they co-wrote Moneyball. The author of this post can admit to shrinking merely at the thought of human touch.
No, it is typically the province of FanGraphs not to celebrate baseball’s humanity but to snuff it out wherever it emerges, like a game of compassion whack-a-mole. If a certain corner of the media landscape is to be believed, we have conducted our work with great success. Baseball, in the opinion of some, has been rendered an almost entirely joyless husk of its former self.
But the job isn’t yet complete. Some people appear still to be deriving pleasure from the game. And so, in this publication’s great tradition of joylessness, I present the current document — one in which I endeavor to answer a question that nobody has asked. That question, specifically? Something along these lines: “What if, instead of honoring the most passionate of ballplayers, the Heart & Hustle Award were presented based on the literal size of one’s heart and also a very obscure, technical definition of hustle?”
Let us go then, you and I… to a tedious summary of the author’s process for answering that question.
Dan Szymborski is the progenitor of the ZiPS projection system and a senior writer for FanGraphs dot com. He’s also the guest on this edition of the program, during which he examines which managers have produced the best performances of the postseason. Also: Szymborski’s argument for playing Matt Kemp at shortstop. And: a status update on the forthcoming projections for 2019.
Audio after the jump. (Approximately 49 min play time.)