Eckstein wins games with grit.
Who doesn't know about the hero that is David Eckstein? This is a man who has strung together a hugely successful ML career despite having a body more fit for a midget (edit: little person). This is a man who has strung together a successful ML career despite having an OPS+ over 100 (103) only once in his career. Is there any reason to question his 11th place finish in the MVP voting that season, tying with Nomar and finishing ahead of, among others, Eric Chavez (34 HRs, .861 OPS, wholly deserving of the GG at 3B). Obviously that's a rhetorical question.
You must ignore some simple statistics in order to grasp the worth of David Eckstein. Despite his just below-average Rate2, and the fact that he's just barely above-average according to PMR, this is a man headed for the Hall. Look at his WS MVP last season, a meaningful award that couldn't at all be attributed to misplays on a couple fly balls by Tiger OFs. Look at his comparables on B-R. Tops through age 31? Phil Rizzuto, one of the most deserving HoFs imaginable.
Eckstein is officially listed at 5'6", 170 lbs, but he's probably a lot smaller than that. He wins games with grit and determination. Most people believe he's at a disadvantage, given his size. But we can all agree that grit wins baseball games. Remember these things as we move on.
Derrek Lee is tall...
...I mean tall, man. He's 6'5", which is what you'd get if you stacked like three Ecksteins on top of each other. Remember those statistics I told you to ignore? Don't. D-Lee's career Rate2 at 1B is 106. This makes him one of the better fielding 1B in the game today. Derrek Lee has had a full-season OPS+ below 100 once, back in 1998. Also, he's tall. But clearly, he does a lot of things well in order to win ball games.
Remember our axiom above? Grit wins ballgames. But Derrek Lee has also helped a team win a WS. (Admittedly, little David Eckstein has been a part of two WS championships) Is it possible for Derrek Lee to have done all that without grit? He is 6'5" after all.
It isn't possible. It's science man.
I've been in school for a lot of years, and one thing I wasted time on was a way to measure the amount of grit in a baseball player's body. I had a chance to take measurements on both Eckstein and Lee. Below are my results:
- Eckstein: 55 total GP (grit points)
- D-Lee: 55 total GP (grit points)
Is it possible that David Eckstein is at an advantage?
It is. Think about it this way. If both D-Lee (tall, like really tall) and Eckstein (short, like you can barely see him short), have the same amount of grit points (GP), who really has the advantage?
Eckstein does. You see, with his small size, Eckstein is like concentrated grit. His grit isn't spread out. When he says he has more grit in his pinky finger than you do, he means it, and he's right. Poor Derrek Lee has a taller body to cover with his GP. How could he not be at a disadvantage?
Grit is the mother of all invention (and WS championships).
If your head is spinning at this point, take a deep breath. We're almost done. I propose a new statistic.
After taking measures of other players' GP, I have come to the conclusion that all players have the same number. We must therefore calculate the statistic Grit Index to determine which players have advantages over others.
David Eckstein: 5'6" = 66 inches tall (66 inches short, really)
D-Lee: 6'5" = 77 inches tall (holy crap that's tall)
Eckstein: 55/66 = .83 GI
D-Lee: 55/77 = .71 GI
So there you have it. Anytime a local or national sportswriter that you have access to tries to make a case about the disadvantage Eckstein has, direct them to the GI (Grit Index) statistic. You'll be happy you did.