The Braves are winning. And it’s not because of “grit”
I follow the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dave O’Brien on Twitter because (a) I’m a Braves fan; and (b) because O’Brien is pretty darn good. I think he’s a good writer, a good analyst, he’s entertaining, he likes good food and good music. You fit that description, and I’m just about guaranteed to follow you.
In the last couple of days, O’Brien has tweeted a number of facts about the 2010 Braves. They’ve been pretty good facts too! For example:
- The Braves have drawn 300 walks this season, while no other NL team has drawn as many as 260. Atlanta has an NL-best .353 OBP.
- The only two NL players who’ve been on base more than Martin Prado (117) are Albert Pujols (123) and Prince Fielder (118);
- Billy Wagner’s past 12 appearances: 11-1/3 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts, .105 opp avg, and 8-for-8 saves converted.
The team is getting on base! The leadoff hitter is one of baseball’s most overlooked studs! The closer is unhittable. These, combined with an entire feature he wrote today on how good Tommy Hanson has been, plus the oodles of pages of analysis he’s written on Jason Heyward all provide ample explanation for the Braves being in first place.
Except that’s not good enough for O’Brien, apparently. Check this out:
Hudson hit nail on the head: These Braves are tougher, grittier.
Then he links to a blog post he did today in which he accepts Tim Hudson’s assertions that the Braves are winning this year because they are just a tougher, grittier baseball team then they used to be. Literally, he says there’s “a toughness, a grittiness, a dirt-ball determination” about the Braves that is the difference between the 2010 edition and any of the other teams from the past five years.
O’Brien doesn’t dismiss actual performance -- the latter half of the article expands on the facts from his tweets -- but this stuff drives me nuts. Yes, a player said it so you probably have to quote it, but I wish writers would acknowledge that in almost every single case a player’s characterization of his team as “tough” and “gritty” is a post-hoc determination that happens only on winning teams. Indeed, if anyone can find me an example of a losing team that was described as tough or gritty, I’ll eat my hat.
I don’t mean to pick on O’Brien here. It’s just that he writes so much and he writes so well most of the time that it kind of bums me out that he goes with this whole grit thing.