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July 10, 2009

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eschapp

Maybe soon we'll have a quantitative metric for "grit."

Unfortunately people are out there trying to create metrics that measure things like "clutchness" which isn't exactly like grit, except for the fact its probably impossible to measure accurately in a metric.

Thanks for the links to read.

David S. Cohen

Clutchness is impossible to measure because, by most accounts, it doesn't exist.

As for "grit," it's a pretty easy formula, at least based on how commentators use it: 1/OBP * 1/M = G, where OBP is on-base percentage, M is melanin in a player's skin, and G is grit.

Mark Weidemaier

I'm glad somebody brought up the issue of race. In announcer-speak, it does seem that only white players are eligible to be "clutch," or "gritty," or "play the right way," etc. I haven't stumbled on any research, but I assume that someone must have studied whether this impression matches the reality.

David S. Cohen

I have a theory on this one. Baseball announcers/commentators really try to show us (the viewing/consuming public) that they know more than we do. If they just toted the performance of the guys with the most home runs, most strike outs, best OBP/SLG/OPS, or even worse, best VOPR/WARP3/EQA, then they'd be admitting that they don't know more than we do, because anyone with access to that information (anyone with an internet hookup) can figure that out. They'd be out of a job.

Thus, they have to push things like "chemistry," "grit," and "knows how to win." Since those things aren't measurable at baseball-reference.com, only the highly knowledgeable experts who have played and lived the game can give us that info. And, since these characteristics are completely subjective (and worthless), the commentators who spout this drivel let their own biases play a role, which includes race.

Mark Weidemaier

You may be right. I think most professionals resist the notion that someone who doesn't have any of the recognized markers of professional status could do their jobs. It's a pity, though, since the people who actually make personnel decisions now rely heavily on these new performance metrics. Commentators ought to be able to translate for fans.

As an aside: It turns out there is a literature on the use of biased language in sports broadcasting. Rada and Wulfemeyer (J. of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Mar. 2005) seem to have a good overview, in addition to their own study.

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