This isn’t going to be one of those online quizzes where you answer a few questions and then some script determines what you are based on your feedback. This is a quiz where you answer one question, a question you might never have been asked before. Maybe you’re going to learn something about yourself. We’re all put here to learn about ourselves.
It should go without saying that, for the most part, FanGraphs is selective for baseball dorks. Sure, casual fans find themselves here from time to time, but mostly, we cater to people who just want to think about baseball in between all of the baseball. That requires a certain intensity, a certain passion for the material, and it’s why we’re sometimes able to write about such complicated subjects without constantly stopping to explain ourselves. The audience is smart, and all of us are dorks.
But it didn’t really occur to me until recently that there might be types of dorks. I was talking with a baseball acquaintance on the phone, and at one point I explained that I’m a pitching guy, more than I’m a hitting guy. I’m personally just more interested in pitching than hitting, and I get more excited by pitching than hitting, and this probably ends up reflected in what I publish. For example, I just can’t get enough of those damned pitch comps. They’re like Pringles to me. Sometimes it gets a little out of control, but I am who I am.
I identify most as a pitcher dork. Which is to say, I most dork out over mechanical breakdowns, or new-pitch developments, or a perfectly-located changeup that gets the hitter way out in front. Much of the beauty I see in the game is thrown, and not hit, and I’d much rather watch a no-hitter than a slugfest. I prefer to focus on pitchers in my analysis, and I prefer to focus on pitchers during games, and I’m going to go ahead and guess this is largely because I used to be a pitcher, and when I went up to bat once in high school, my coaches told me they’d never let it happen again.
I’m a pitcher dork, but that’s not all there is. I asked Dave Cameron, and he said he most identifies as a hitter dork. Again, a significant reason is probably that Dave used to be a position player, and not a pitcher. But he sees a lot of the beauty coming off of the bat. Where I might rewind a perfect breaking ball in my head, Dave might rewind perfect contact. A hitter dork might dork out over a hitter’s mechanical breakdown. You might be interested in tweaks, or exit velocities and launch angles. Pitchers are out there as the favorites; they always have the better odds. The hitter is the underdog, but sometimes the underdog gets the better of the favorite and sends the ball out to dead center. It’s a hell of a thing to be able to do, hit. Any of us can throw. Good hitting is practically magic.
When I was first thinking about this, I figured a person would have to identify more as either a pitcher dork or a hitter dork. But when I asked August Fagerstrom, he said he most identifies as a defender dork. So that’s three answers from three people. August said defense is what he likes to watch and write about the most, and, one more time, as a partial explanation he pointed to the fact that defending was the thing he did best in his playing days.
I understand this, though. Think about what happens on the field during a play. The pitcher is in complete control — he can throw what he wants, when he wants, and he’s not reacting to anything. The hitter then has to react to the pitcher, but at least the hitter has a good sense of the general area where the ball is going to be. If you’re standing up there, you pretty much know the pitched baseball is going to be somewhere around the plate, somewhere between 70 and 100 miles per hour. When the ball’s in play, though, defenders have to react, even though the play itself is unpredictable. When a pitch is in flight, it could turn into any kind of batted ball, to any spot. So defenders have to be ready for anything, and defenders are the only players who do things that get called acrobatic.
There’s real beauty in defense. It’s worth dorking out. So as I see it now, you’re either a pitcher dork, a hitter dork, or a defender dork. It’s not about appreciating one, and not the others; my hypothesis is just that there’s one you appreciate more than the others. We all have our preferences, whether they come from our playing histories, or whether they’re independent. (Or whether there is no playing history. You don’t need to have played baseball to like baseball.)
Here’s maybe a quick way to find your own answer, in case you’re having a little trouble. Below are three videos. Which do you like watching the most? Which would you most be willing to watch over and over, locked in a room, for the rest of your life? That ought to tell you what type of dork you are. Don’t fret about identifying yourself as any kind of dork. It’s not intended as a pejorative. You’re a baseball dork. Welcome to this community of baseball dorks.
Speak out! Be proud.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.