Measuring Heart

Inspired by a tweet to @keithlaw that said you can’t measure heart.

110 * (C+ASG + {ASR*2.5} + [H5G + {H5R*1.5}/2] + DP + {DS*2} + Dv + {DvS*2} + Pluck)-(Tin + $D + DOG)]-AROD= Heart

It has come to my attention that there is no statistical measurement for heart in the game of baseball, or any game for that matter. I don’t know how this oversight could have possibly gone on for so long but I’m ecstatic to be the first to offer a formula for finding the heart of a ball player. In order to do that, I needed to invent a few new statistics. I’ve kept the new stats on the basic arithmetic track for two reasons: 1) the people who love to talk heart also like the basic arithmetic stats or counting stats and despise any thing that remotely smells of advanced math (and by advanced I mean 6th grade and above) 2) I can’t do advanced math (and by advanced I still mean 6th grade and above) partly because I’ve never been much of a numbers guy and partly because I’ve followed Phish for about twenty years. Above you can see the formula needed to measure heart and while it may look like something from “Numb3rs” it really is quite simple. To wit:

In order to make it a little easer to speak about and compare the first thing to define is 110. Normally in such cases the value of 100 is used, but since anyone who is anyone knows a player with heart always gives 110% so the value is a nod to that mathematical impossibility. The rest of the measures are listed as they appear in the formula.

The Positives

C= Captain. Any player who is recognized as a captain or leader on their team is given a 1. An “official” captain with a C on their uniform is given a 2.

ASG= Ass Slaps Given. Is there a more emphatic way to congratulate a teammate than an ass slap? I say no. However, it is the very intimate nature of giving the ass slap that let’s us know if a person has heart. The more slaps the more heart.

ASR*2= Ass Slaps Received. Of course to a true leader and spirited individual, slapping ass is relatively natural. It is also important to see how ones teammates (and manager) feel about the player in question, so how many times one’s ass gets slapped is key to determining the respect and loyalty of others. It is so important that this value gets multiplied by 2.

H5G= High Fives Given. Giving out and receiving high fives is relatively easy. I high five complete strangers when the White Sox do something good. So it is just a simple count for giving high fives and it is made into a gross high five total divided by two. More on that in a moment.

H5R*1.5= High Fives Received. If you are the recipient of a high five, you have probably done something good for the team. Now, to keep it simple I didn’t want to get into high fives for hustle, high fives for bunts, etc. So, if you’ve done something good and teammates are high fiving that is what a H5R is, because of this H5R are weighted a little more than givens by a factor of 1.5. However since slapping hands is not nearly as meaningful as slapping ass, high fives are divided by two.

DP= Dirty Pants. An ode to the term “Dirt Dogs.” Obviously if a player gets dirty, he is willing to go any lengths, grind it out, and any other cliché that you can use in order to express effort. Getting one’s pants dirty on a baseball diamond is relatively easy so…

DS*2= Dirty Shirt. A textbook slide will get your pants dirty, but a dive or head first (and pretty stupid) slide shows how determined you really are. Because of this extra effort a dirty shirt (or more precisely activities that soil one’s shirt) are multiplied by two.

Dv= Dives. Diving for a ball is an especially important part of demonstrating heart. A player who throws his body around isn’t demonstrating that they were in a bad position to field the ball in the first place, rather that they only care about making the play and doing what’s best for the team.

DvC*2= Dive into Crowd (crash in wall). While diving is a spectacular demonstration of heart, nothing solidifies ones reputation for having heart like going head first into the seats or crashing into a wall in order to make a play. (See Rowand, Aaron) Also since this a relatively rare occasion a modifier of x2 is used.

Pluck= This is the ability to get under an opponent’s skin, to jigger the rules, to perform a good deke. (See Pierzynski, AJ.)

The Negatives

There are of course a number of factors that take away from a players heart score. Again I wanted to be sure that none of these stats had any relation to other more traditional statistics and were things that demonstrated a lack of heart, or at the very least were common among players who universally are regarded as having no heart.

Tin= Tirades. Exploding into a tirade is a sure fire way to demonstrate you do not have any heart, especially if that explosion is directed at the fans or the press. The more the tirade has to do with something personal, not really related to performance the worse it is for your heart score. For example, complaining about your rotten performance, no increase, complaining about fans booing n=2; calling out the reporter who dared to question your commitment to the team n=4 and so on.

$D= Salary Demands. Anyone with any heart at all does not talk about money, getting paid, cashing in etc. The only people with heart are those that play for the love of the game.

DOG= Dogging it. Not running out a ground ball, not hustling to cover a base, taking a ball on a hop as opposed to diving are but a few examples of dogging it all of which demonstrate a lack of heart. Of course one’s attitude and manner can demonstrate an intrinsic lackadaisical attitude and in effect be evidence of a DOG score, regardless of on field performance. (See Ramirez, Manny)

AROD= Alex Rodriguez. All numbers are negated by AROD because it has been widely demonstrated and reported that Rodriguez has no heart, even if he is the best player on the diamond.

So, let’s use a couple of real world examples of the Heart formula. First, Paul Konerko from a recent game v. the Royals:

110 * (2+1 + {2*2.5} + [10 + {15*1.5}/2] + 0 + {0*2} + 0 + {0*2} + 0)-(0 + 0 + 1)]-AROD= 3.107

Paulie (nicknames should probably be part of this equation as well) does pretty well on the heart chart. He is a recognized captain on his team, high fives a lot and even manages to get in a few ass slaps here and there. What is hurting his score is that he’s not much of a diver and therefore doesn’t get dirty also on a pop up he ran very slowly, even for him, therefore earning a DOG. Still not bad.

Next Alex Rodriguez from a recent game v. Oakland.

110 * (0+4 + {3*2.5} + [15 + {15*1.5}/2] + 1 + {2*2} + 2 + {0*2} + 1)-(0 + 0 + 0)]-AROD= 0

Arod does pretty well. While not recognized as a captain on his team, he scores very high on the ass list, both giving and receiving. Also with Nick Swisher on your team, you’re bound to get a lot of high fives and Arod clearly benefits. Also in this particular game Arod got his pants AND shirt dirty and dove twice, though not into the stands, He also engaged in a bit of pluck, earning a point there. Arod has been pretty good about money and clubhouse tirades and if he dogged a play I didn’t see it. So he earned a 4.207 raw score. Being Arod negates all of that and he has a zero heart score. Fool proof.

There are of course a number of other factors that could be brought in, but I think this is a good start. We could always see if this could help determine why so many players that are considered to have a lot of heart are also white, but that would probably just be a coincidence and have nothing to do with the people who are experts on heart. We probably can’t unravel the mystery of the preponderance of players with heart who also have a good relationship with the media, again a mystery unable to be verified. Even so join me won’t you? Start counting ass-slaps and high-fives and watching for dogged plays so the next time when someone says, “you can’t measure heart,” you can respond and say, “Oh yes I can!”

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