We UmpBump writers have spent far too much time debating the relative merits of many different kinds of statistics. Does a high RBI total actually signify a skill? Why should we care about a pitcher’s Win totals? Is WARP3 actually necessary?  The list continues.

But this past week, something wonderful has happened. Someone actually created a stat that could finally end the war between the awesome intergalactic sabermetric fleets armed with X-Wing Fighter Jets and the “classic” statisticians with their… umm… vaudeville shows and toothbrush mustaches and 23-skidoos… I don’t know. I wasn’t alive during this time.

timlin-grit.jpgYes, friends, someone has finally created a quantifiable stat to measure GRIT.

<loud applause>

The good folks over at Flotsam Media, a sports blog, actually went through a data set beginning in 1955 to determine who was the most/least gritty player during this span:

I hold that gritty players are those who sincerely want to win or succeed at baseball (determination), but due to a lack of natural skill (talent), are forced to do so through the least efficient means possible, resulting in an excessive amount of dirt on their uniform.

This DIRT factor was created by looking at stats such as HBP (the ultimate form of grittiness) , and Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing. Other factors that were determined through similar methods were:


Gritty players want to succeed. They just happen to not have the talent to actually do so. This results in inefficient baseball plays. For example, Jerry Hairston is gritty. He slides head-first into first base. A true sign of someone gritty enough to want to get to first base, but shitty enough to (not) actually get there efficiently.


cairo-hbp.jpgIt is my contention that “grittiness” is a subset of talent that cannot translate well statistically. Two players may very well have the same raw amount of grit, but one player may have more tangible talent, making him appear less gritty because the grit is too diluted. Gritty players are those who have the largest concentration of grit. As such, too find the grittiest players, we should look for players who have as little tangible talent as possible.

I’ll stop cribbing because the Flotsam post is really worth reading for yourself (there you can also find out who the grittiest of the gritty were).  But I wanted to simply tip my cap to them. Maybe now, I can stop squirming when people call Miguel Cairo anything more than crappy.

5 Responses to “A Stat That Everyone Can Enjoy”

  1. Paul, I was just reading this post. It’s fantastic. Though, I was surprised to read that Jim Thome was one of the least gritty players ever. He strikes me as a guy who isn’t afraid to get his uni dirty.

  2. Coley, Thome is “grizzled”, not “gritty”. He was way too good a power bat to be classified as such. He’s currently 9th on the list of active players with the most intentional walks, he’s hit a ton of extra-base hits, etc.

    PS: It’s great that we can actually debate these kinds of things as a result of a study that’s 50% a joke.

  3. Paul, quit talking about my boy Thome in the past tense. He’s STILL grizzled.

    And while we’re talking about big Jim, what do you think…is he a hall of famer?

    I say yes.

  4. Sorry, Coley. Didn’t realize he was your boy. Plus, you’re right. I shouldn’t have used the past tense since he can still hit the ball a long ways.

    As for his Hall candidacy, I haven’t looked at his numbers all too closely but my initial reaction to your question was “most likely”. The guy’s got over 500HRs and counting. His career OBP is over .400. Even in the PED-era, his career numbers put him among the elite.

    The only things that could prevent him really is number of hits and (if you’re really nitpicking) the fact that he played much of his career in hitter’s parks. Regarding the low (for a HOF-er) career hits, for one, he’s been a bit injury-prone (and still hit over 500 HRs. Go figure) so for a guy with that many years of service, he doesn’t have a lot of ABs. Besides, other HR hitters like Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey didn’t get that many hits either. And Thome should get his 2000th sometime this year.

    We’re not sure if Thome or Frank Thomas retires first, but they’ll be rooting for each other on those HOF ballots. They’ve had pretty similar careers and if one gets in, then the other probably will too.

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