Sharma: The draw of averages

From Sahadev Sharma at Baseball Prospectus on September 30, 2014:

When I was initially hired at Baseball Prospectus—two months ago—I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to write my first piece as a full-time employee. Then came the realization that my start date was two months away and, well, you’re probably aware that when given too long to ponder a piece, sometimes writers tend to overthink things.

Then my father-in-law pointed out that Joe Hamrahi wrote a piece in which I was described as a “super-recruit.” Super-recruit? Me? Yes, some writers tend to have a tough outer shell, displaying an image of self-assured confidence, but on the inside we’re all neurotic disasters, terrified that we’ll run out of ideas or that the next piece we write will expose us as the uninformed frauds we are. Or even worse, everyone has already been well aware that I’m awful and this job is all an elaborate sham to embarrass me in some dramatic Carrie-like situation.

Okay, probably a slightly dramatic exaggeration of what goes on in my head, but the sentiment stands. Nobody respects average. If I’m going to live up to the hype of ‘super-recruit,’ I better deliver.

Don’t believe me that average doesn’t move the meters? A couple months ago, I tweeted that according to one scouting director I spoke with Cubs rookie pitcher Kyle Hendricks’ ceiling could look similar to a recent-vintage Kyle Lohse. Some were fine with that—Hendricks has had nice numbers in the minors, but the scouting reports describe a pitcher who might not have the stuff to survive long term in the big leagues. Others, however, were outraged.

It’s safe to say that fans can go a bit overboard when it comes to expectations about their favorite team’s prospects. Some of the responses seemed to suggest that if Hendricks were to have a career similar to Lohse’s, he would not only be a disappointment, but a failure.

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Originally published: September 30, 2014. Last Updated: September 30, 2014.