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The Legend of Sam Fuld grows

Apr 25, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Sam Fuld

I’m going to have to refrain from joining the Sam Fuld cult. He’s a nice guy who has been fun to watch, but every time a brainy guy who does some pretty unexpectedly nifty things in a small sample of games, I end up getting burned. I mean, I’m still trying to unload all of that Brian Bannister merchandise I bought a couple of years ago, but the market simply cratered for it.

Still, there’s quite a Sam Fuld cult at the moment, borne mostly of his diving catches, .400+ OBP  and — dare I say it? — scrappy performance in the Rays’ outfield. Now there’s one more reason to become a Fuldhead. At least if you’re into a certain brand of baseball analysis:

Among worldly Sam Fuld’s many experiences is the time he spent as an intern at Stats, Inc., after he graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics … Fuld is fascinated by what the numbers tell him about the concept of clutch hitters.

“Most of the numbers out there show that there’s no such thing,” Fuld said. “And it’s crazy to think that, because I swear I’ve played with guys who just tend to come through in the clutch. And others that don’t. “But that’s the beauty of numbers is that our minds don’t necessarily capture the whole picture accurately. Our emotions remember certain things for whatever reason, and there are certain things you don’t remember. So I think that’s the beauty of numbers. It’s fact. There’s no way around it.”

Yes, it’s possible that the Fuld wave has peaked as far as baseball cultural phenomenons go. But I always like it when people accept that our minds are often unreliable narrators and that numbers don’t lie when they’re merely being used to present what happened (conclusions to draw from those numbers and what they can and can’t predict is where it gets trickier).

  1. bradwins - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    Between Fuld and Lowrie, that was one “legendary” Stanford team. I believe Carlos Quentin was on that team, as well. All 3 off to great starts this season.

  2. koa4lyf3 - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    In all seriousness, if you have any more Brian Bannister merchandise that you’re looking to sell, I’m your buyer.

    Let me know,

    Kevin

  3. Jonny 5 - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    I refuse to applaud a man who does not agree with the existence of “clutch”. Put the nail in the coffin by telling me he doesn’t believe in “protection” of a batter as well……. ;)

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      Mental note..

      Joke not received well about “clutchiness”.

  4. indaburg - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Come on, Craig, join us. It’s a great cult, as far as cults go. No drinking poison or reading Dianetics. There is also no merchandise to buy… yet.

    In all seriousness, I do think Fuld has a point. I have always taken a player described as “clutch” with a grain of salt. It always seemed to me more of a measure of a player’s likability than his actual ability. The flip side of the argument: perception is reality. If a player is perceived as clutch, then is he clutch, regardless of what the numbers say? Discuss.

    • Mark - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      That’s pretty much how I see it. A-Rod is usually considered a choke artist, but he has a 940 OPS with nobody on for his career and a 977 OPS with runners on. Meanwhile, The Captain has an 846 OPS with nobody on and 819 with runners on, and he’s the guy most NY fans would rather have up at the plate (pre 2010 anyways).

      Likability definitely factors into clutch.

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      In “56”, the new Joe DiMaggio book about 1941, Kostya Kennedy talks about streaks (and on the periphery clutch) with a number of mathematicians who have actually used DiMaggio’s streak as a thesis to run threough simulations, etc. Their diverse conclusions are that the streak can last anywhere from once every 17 years to once every 10,948 years. Neither of which, obviously, has happened.
      Numbers are great, I like intangibles, especially oozy ones

  5. detiger69 - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Sam Fuld BA .346 OBP .388 SLG .513 OBS .901 SB 10 Salary for 2011 $ 418,300
    Crawford BA .171 OBP .218 SLG .244 OBS .462 SB 4 Salary Thru 20 games $1,834,215

    I don’t know about clutch, but I sure can tell who is getting the most Bang for their Buck!
    How long before Tampa is asking “Carl Who?” Great Trade Cubbies.

  6. smarterthangirardi - Apr 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    when Sam Fuld jumps into a pool he doesnt get wet, the pool gets Sam Fuld

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