September 14, 2011

A Tale of Four Wrists

Eric Davis, 1991 Score, "The Franchise"

Don’t get me wrong—never once in my whole life did I ever question my unrelenting admiration for one Donald Arthur Mattingly, nor did I ever wish I had latched on to a different baseball player for such a one-sided endeavor of unconditional love. That said, if, during this time, some unbelievably unfortunate circumstance had forced me, kicking and screaming violently, to set my Donnie aside—gasp!—and choose another, if only so that my family could survive—bastards!—and this “other” could not be a member of my chosen team—sorry, Pags!—then, and only then, I would have chosen … Eric Davis.

Why, you ask? Let’s let Score explain:

Even in a season like 1990 when Eric was hampered by bad knees and a bum shoulder, he is the man who can make a difference.

Say it’s a year like 1990, and you’re sitting at home in your Skidz overalls with your bad knees and bum shoulder, thinking to yourself, “I don’t feel like making a difference today … look at me! Ugh!” Then you turn on the television only to see that Eric Davis, the baseball player, has hit 24 home runs and stole 21 bases and has an OPS+ of 123 despite similar ailments. “Did that make a difference?” you wonder. Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t you go ask the World Series.

The most talented player in the game,

No offense to Eric Davis, but people say this like Mattingly couldn’t steal bases or hop over outfield walls to rob home runs. I mean, Mattingly chose to not to steal because his advanced sabermetric mind told him not to. (Smartability is now the sixth tool.) Besides, Mattingly beat an ostrich in a race back in ’87. It was on Fox. Then he jumped over the ostrich to rob a home run, except the ball was an ostrich egg. You didn’t see it? It was awesome.

Eric came through when it counted, hitting a solid .280 in the second half of the season.

Coming through when it counts = having a batting average of .280 in the second half of the season. I just read that sentence over like, 30 times. The ratio of extremely boring thing said about extremely exciting player—boring thing/exciting player—is off the freakin’ charts. Literally, it is impossible to make a chart about this.

Here’s the thing. Eric Davis was awesome. Super fast, tons of power, exciting as heck to watch defensively, etc. But ask anyone from my generation of baseball fandom what they admired most about Eric Davis, and they’ll all tell ya’ the same thing—his remarkably strong wrists:

Eric’s remarkably strong wrists generate enormous power;

A lot of regular guys generate home runs with their arms, or chest, or legs, or bat, or head, or shoulders. Eric Davis? All wrists. In fact, many longtime baseball men-slash-wrist scientists believed they’d never see another player who could equal such remarkableness in the wrist department.

That is, until …

Mike Piazza, 2001 Topps Stadium Club

Goodness, gracious! Look at those … wrists!


Let us recall that ANALYSKILLS are a complex formula of skills, analysis, the analysis of those skills, and the skills at obtaining such analysis.

Long, yet powerful stroke.

Not taking the bait.

Not taking the bait.

Not taking the bait.

Not taking the bait.

THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID! Arg! I have no self-control.

… Big into weight training, but generates power from unusually strong wrists…

“Chapter 8: From Remarkably Strong To Unusually Strong: From Davis To Piazza: Baseball’s Power Wrists,” was the colon-filled title of one section of Ken Burns’ famous PBS documentary, “Baseball Stuff.” I also enjoy how Piazza generated power not from his weight lifting, but only from his wrists. What kind of adept analyskilltician made this observation? Kind of makes you wonder why Piazza continued to weight train. Was he so vain? Also, did the wrist exercises help? It’s the age-old question of wrist nature versus nurture. We’ll never really know.

We’ll never really know. (Frowny face.)


Bill said...

Did you know: At the MLB scouting combine, which does not exist, Mike Piazza wrist-pressed 1,500 LBS, breaking the record previously held by Eric Davis.

mkenny59 said...

I love the idea of an MLB scouting combine. I mean, wrist-pressing events AND instead of a 40-yard dash, they time pitchers' speed covering first base? He runs a 2.1 M21B (mound to first base)? I think you just uncovered something, Bill. I really do.