This is the first in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduce the stat, then we use it to analyze hitters, then we use it to analyze pitchers.
There's plenty of time to dissect the Twins' season, and there are plenty of people to do it. Rather than crunch the numbers or analyze the trends, I prefer to dissect it in the best way I know how: poorly!
It's in that spirit that I offer the following new statistic: AARP or Amusement Above Replacement Player. [I am well aware that AARP is also the name of the American Association of Retired People, which gives AARP a 8.43 AARS (that's Amusement Above Replacement Statistic) score.]
Why invent such a meaningless statistic you ask? Why not? I answer.
Statistics are not fixed or holy things, they get to be whatever we want them to be. While much of baseball is designed to be measured and quantified (from the 90 feet between the bases, to every degree of drop on a curve), much of it has yet be measured or quantified (from how important it is to have "good guys" in the clubhouse to how willingly we as fans will watch bad baseball because the way a hitter waggles his bat makes us giggle). And since no one else was doing it, I figured I might as well.
Assigning a number to something like "amusing antics" may seem unnecessary or even stupid. Of course it's stupid. So is measuring the degree of drop on every pitchers curveball. This is America, and this is the internet. If you're looking for necessary and intelligent things, you've clearly come to the wrong place.
So, what is AARP and how do we measure it?
As I envision it (and since I'm making it up, that's all that matters), AARP measures a player's contributions, on the field and off, to provide amusement and enjoyment to fans. Certainly a player's actual performance has an effect on that: hit a homer, boost your AARP, come into a tie game and give up five straight hits, your AARP takes a hit.
We like successful players, but we also like players just because they are themselves. So the statistic also considers things like: a player's ability to earn and maintain a nickname (and no, adding -y/-ie to the end of a name doesn't make it a nickname--sorry fans of "Frankie" Liriano); their notable physical and personality traits (thereby giving credit to the short, the squat, the bearded and the crazy); their general attitude and demeanor (the more personable and interesting and less robotic the better); and miscellaneous oddities (i.e. Delmon saying his favorite book is The Great Gatsby or Eduardo Escobar's at bat music being a song from Grease).
Like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) or VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), AARP can have a positive or a negative score. Each category has a range of -2 to +2 and totals up to give their overall AARP. A positive score reflects a player who makes the game enjoyable to watch (however mildly), zero reflects someone whose existence you forget about between games, and a negative one reflects a player who leaves you so bored, depressed or upset that anything (even Kardashians, Ginsu knife infomercials, and "Channel Not Available" notifications) seems to be a more valuable source of entertainment.
How would the stat work? Consider these examples
Play: Below average at an inconsequential time -0.1
Nickname: None -0.2
Traits: None noticed 0.0
Demeanor: None noticed 0.0
Oddities: None 0.0
Jason Bartlett: An everyday major leaguer (.5-2.0)
Play: Adequate (slightly better once he left the team) 0.7
Nickname: None -0.2
Traits: Little scruffy goatee 0.2
Demeanor: Calm 0.2
Oddities: Name might remind you of The West Wing or a book of quotations. 0.4
Play: Great in the field, great base runner, terrible at hitting 0.8
Nickname: None (Save for maybe Midnight Rider) 0.0
Traits: Big smile, giddy laugh 0.7
Demeanor: Happy and excited 0.4
Oddities: Superman style leaps after balls, summersaulting triples 0.4
Michael Cuddyer: a nationally notable player (5.1-8.0)
Play: Impressive arm, above average bat. 1.7
Nickname: "Cuddles" "Magic Man" 1.8
Traits: Big dimples, fondness for magic 2.0
Demeanor: Personable, engaging, happy to talk with fans 1.3
Oddities: Not many--typical dude. 0.0
Play: Phenomenal defense (recently, good offense) 1.5
Nickname: "Gogo" "Mojo Gogo" "Go, go, Gomez" "Rin-go!" 1.8
Traits: Hyperactivity, silliness, goofiness, sporadic bouts of petulance, funny little beard 1.9
Demeanor: Happy, excitable, willing to talk about anything even if you don't understand him 1.7
Oddities: Smelling bats, raptor yells in dug out 2.0
Play: Very good at the plate, above average in the field 1.9
Nickname: A-Rod, A-Hole .2
Traits: Really toolish, egotistical, self-obsessed, obnoxiously pretty -2.0
Demeanor: Egotistical, better than thou, convinced of massive conspiracy against him -2.0
Oddities: Supposedly has a portrait of himself as a centaur, has movie star girlfriends feed him popcorn -2.0
Sure there's room to debate the accuracy of these scores, especially since what is amusing to me may not be amusing to you. After all, if a statistic is subjective, is it really a statistic anymore?
Then again, this is a totally made up statistic that doesn't actually exist beyond the confines of this weird little corner of cyber space, so maybe we shouldn't spend too much time worrying about that, and just use this as a mildly amusing way to pass the offseason.
In that spirit I'll use AARP to analyze how the Twins did in 2013, staring with a few notable hitters, then moving on to the pitchers and front office staff. And while the management seems generally disinclined to consider statistics in their evaluations of talent, maybe a made up statistic will have more credence with them and we'll build for a future when the Twins are both talented and fun!