Brian Bannister Q&A
Posted by simon c on 2008 January 28日 Monday
I’ve never read an athlete interview like this. This is an intelligent ballplayer, if not stat obsessed (an otaku, heh) of the sabermetrics kind. He’s totally in tune with progressive statistics and the importance of OBPs, though granted this is becoming more widely accepted by the general American media and fans as it appears regularly during TV broadcasts now. But Bannister digs deeper and applies the underlying philosophies to his actual pitching, this is really interesting. Now we’re not just getting sabermetric analysists in the front offices, but also out on the playing field!
He’s likely to be available in later rounds of almost any fantasy draft, and faces really tough competition regularly against top hitting Indians and Tigers lineups, but when I’m faced with a choice between him and an equivalent starter, I will draft this Royal. (i.e. I’m now a fan.)
Here’s a quote:
MLBTR: What’s the most misunderstood aspect of succeeding in baseball by typical fans, sportswriters, and announcers?
Bannister: There are two things that make baseball unique from other sports. One, baseball is a game of skill that is accentuated by the physical tools of the person performing those skills. Most people superficially judge a position player solely on size, strength, and speed, when his eyesight, balance, rhythm, hand-eye coordination, and mental makeup are much more influential factors in his future success. It is when a player embodies all of these qualities that we get our superstars and hall-of-famers. I would much rather face a hitter with “80” power and “80” speed but bad strike zone discipline than one with no power and a .400+ OBP. Over the course of time, the hitter with the .400+ OBP is going to hurt me much, much more, especially if he is surrounded by other good hitters.
Secondly, whether you like it or not, baseball is a game of randomness. We play outdoors (mostly) in changing elements and field dimensions, and each pitch results in a series of events that can go in either teams favor. One thing that I have have come to accept is that just because I train hard physically, I practice perfectly, I prepare diligently, and execute a pitch exactly as I wanted, it can still result in a home run. In golf, if you analyze all the variables correctly (lie, distance, slope, wind, etc.) and execute your swing perfectly, it will result in a great shot. Not so for a pitcher or a hitter. A hitter can swing the bat perfectly and it will result in an out more than six times out of ten. Therefore, as a pitcher, I study and play to put the percentages in my favor more than anything because I know that I can’t control the outcome in a single game or series of games, but over the course of a season or a career I will be better than average.