Monday, March 10, 2008

Unreasonable Expectations

I've written before about the sometimes unreasonable expectations in the mailbag (here's one on Kearns). Today's mailbag sets an unreasonable standard for Ryan Zimmerman, giving a prediction so ungodly that there's practically no way (barring a trip to Lo Duca's dealer) that young Zimmerman can meet it.
Do you think Zimmerman will have a breakout season in 2008?
-- Dylan H., Leona Valley, Calif.

There is no doubt in my mind about it. With his wrist 100 percent, Zimmerman will hit over .300 with 40 home runs and 120 RBIs. I think he's that good of a hitter.

That's a hell of a season.

You know how many times the Ladson Triple Crown has been done? Since 1901, it's been done 128 times. That sounds like a lot. It's not. (fully half of those have been done since 1996, too... I wonder what changed in '96... hmmm...)

Let's look at it a little closer though. Ryan Zimmerman is about to enter his age 23 season, still just a tiny tot in the scheme of all things baseball. Giving a little fudge factor, how many times do you think that's been done by someone 24 or under?

Just 19 times.

Looking at the list, there are a bunch of stiffs that I've never heard of. Chuck Klein? Jimmie Foxx? Mel Ott? Orlando Cepada? Who the hell are those guys? I think I've heard of that Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio person. Oh, there's Hank Aaron, too.

Every single person on that list save for Hal Trosky and Jose Canseco (what was it that changed in '96 again?), is in the Hall of Fame or WILL be in the HOF once eligible. It's a list of bang-up, slam-dunk, no-doubt, wow-my-god-he's-awesome Hall-of-Famers.

And that's our expectation of Zimmerman?


Crazy numbers in and of themselves aren't a problem, but there's a difference between hoping and a difference between expecting. As was the case with Kearns, if we're setting the bar that high -- so high that it's, for all intents and purposes, unobtainable -- then the player can do nothing but be a failure.

Zimmerman's a great player (well, actually he's probably only good at this point), and he's got a world of potential. Let's not get ahead of ourselves and expect him to morph overnight into an inner-circle hall-of-famer! Let's not set him up for failure.


  • (To fact check myself, I'm not convinced that Guerrero's going to be a HOFer bc I'm not sure he'll be around long enough, but he's definitely got the raw numbers, the first half of a could-be HOF career)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/10/2008 4:15 PM  

  • In the span of the same mailbag, Ladsen also predicted that Lannan could be the opening day starter and will be the ace of the staff within 2 years. Lannan seems like he could be a serviceable starter, but Lord help us if he's the best we got.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 4:59 PM  

  • i sent a "question" into ole Bill. i suppose there are questions in it. i wonder if he'll answeer this in the next bag. i promise if he replies to my email i'll post that here too.

    here's the text:

    Bill, c'mon. 300/40/120 for Zim? are you high? do you realize that you just wrote that? do you know how many times that has been done in history? seriously, that's just ignorant reporting. and Lannan the "ace of the staff" in two years. i bet Bowden and Stan hope you're wrong. Lannan is a serviceable starter, maybe a three if EVERYTHING goes right for him.

    Bill, please, do a little research on or Baseball Prospectus or Baseball Forecaster before you start throwing these superlatives around. it only serves as a set-up to disppointment to casual baseball fans that read your mailbag.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 5:48 PM  

  • Keep banging the drum, Chris. You'd think by now Ladsen might have read one of your posts. Why can't somebody set him straight?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 5:51 PM  

  • Thank you Dave!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 5:52 PM  

  • Meh. Ladson isn't the best beat writer, but he's hardly a menace. For all his grandiosity at least he's not complaining about all our OBP "clogging up the bases," or telling our guys who can take walks to swing more aggressively.

    He's just sort of the harmless fan who's really passionate about the team, but who doesn't do too much dispassionate analysis. (Which, really happens to be the majority of baseball fans.) Many of them are the people who might hold a 20 game pack, or who might bring the family to the park a couple of times a year while kicking back and watching a game a week or so on MASN. If they have fantasy teams, they fill them with their favorite players, not necessarily the best ones, but the ones who mean the most to them. While we choose to take baseball very seriously and to perform all manner of analysis to try to figure out how our teams can be improved, they just like watching the games, having fun with the mascots and meeting the players.

    While yes, Ladson is setting unrealistic expectations, what's the point of beating up on the man when he's really not writing for us anyway? Generally speaking, Ladson's articles don't really hurt anyone and they're intended for the mass market crowd who generally don't want to spend their lives despairing about their team. If he were suggesting really bad, dumb baseball things, that would be different, but there's a difference the alternate rose-colored reality he inhabits and the land of anti-logical baseball writing that's out there such as the infamous Reds article this week. Compared to that, I'll take Smiling Bill any day of the week.

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 3/10/2008 6:25 PM  

  • "He's just sort of the harmless fan who's really passionate about the team, but who doesn't do too much dispassionate analysis."

    True...but this guy gets paid real money to write these ridiculous "answers" to questions.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 7:10 PM  

  • Who the hell IS our opening day starter going to be?? I can't wait too see them get lit up in brilliant, colorful High Definition.
    Bowden's face is gonna look extra red in HD when we're down by 6 in the 4th, and he's on his third stoli martini.

    By Blogger Rob B, at 3/10/2008 7:47 PM  

  • That'd be pretty awesome if Zim could put up those numbers, but the good thing is he won't have to for this team to be better. The balance in the lineup is the best it has been since the '94 strike season. Guzman for MVP!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 10:38 PM  

  • You know the term "hack"?

    Seriously, Ladson just seems to make up questions and respond with company-line bullsh*t...

    He relies on his access to the players and glosses each one of their ____ in each "mailbag."


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2008 10:41 PM  

  • It's all good. Tony Batista's back now, so even if Zim can't produce, he'll make up the difference between reality and Ladson's expectations.


    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 3/10/2008 11:35 PM  

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