One of the neat things about being a baseball Fan in the modern age is the ability to read a diverse amount of writing from all over the country. Growing up in Jersey, the local papers such as the Bergen Record and the New York Daily News were the sole providers of information except for the then wonderful Sporting News that gave a more global look at teams around the country. But now, there are wonderful writers around the country and a unique thing happens when reading them regularly: The reader gets wrapped up and involved in their passions as well as the ones already in place. For example, Josh Borenstein's, Jews In Baseball, has given this writer a whole new bunch of players to root for. Why? Not because this writer is Jewish. Although, this writer does have a theory that Italians are the ten lost tribes of Israel (the same guilt, etc.) No, it's because reading Josh's post regularly gets the reader caught up in the players he follows every day and they become players you root for too. It's inexplicable in some ways.
Another really good writer out there goes by the moniker of "eyebleaf" and has a blog called Sports and the City. He (think it's a he) is a diehard fan who lives and dies by the Toronto Blue Jays. The first thing his blog does is make the Fan want to sing, "Eyebleaf I can fly...Eyebleaf I can touch the sky..." The second thing his blog does is give the Fan some sympathy and pathos for the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays? For crying out loud, this Fan always HATED the Blue Jays. While living in New Hampshire, and before the advent of cable, the only signal we could get was a Channel 9 from Manchester, NH, which did not show any baseball and Channel 6, which was a CBC channel that showed Blue Jays games. They had an announcer named Tommy Hutton who was the smarmiest, homiest announcer who ever lived. He now does color for the Marlins, though that is a misnomer as he still lacks color of any sort in how he goes about his business. Anyway, that was during the World Series years and only lately has the Fan understood how good a manager Cito Gaston was and is.
Anyway, to make these long paragraphs get somewhere, this blog writer named, "Eyebleaf," has made a long-time hater of the Blue Jays actually kind of root for them. Halladay has become a rallying point on all fronts. This Fan actually felt sad when he was hurt. The Fan was actually rooting for Tallet the other day. Say what? And it's all this blog writer's fault.
One of the continuing lines of thought on Sports and the City is the plight of Vernon Wells. Boy, it took a long time to get to the point, eh? The "eh?" is a Canadian thing. Get it? Anyway, you can tell that eyebleaf is conflicted by Vernon Wells. He writes that he believes in him, but at the same time, he has this hilarious feature on his site called the "Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System" which resembles the forest fire hazard system. It's so funny! Well anyway, that Vernon Wells Advisory System has been on "Extreme" for most of the season. It seems that Vernon Wells has pretty much gone zero for June. He has also spent the entire year batting either cleanup or lately, third, despite having putrid showings for clutch stats with men on base and in scoring position.
And so, this blog by someone hundreds of miles from here, has made this Fan curious about someone who was never really given much thought. The Fan knew of Vernon Wells, remembered him as a pretty good player, but never thought too much about him, until now. And as the interest is piqued, so is the curiosity. So old Vernon was looked up on http://www.baseball-referece.com/. And the information found there is strange indeed. The guy has been playing for eleven years even though he is only 31. A former first round draft choice by the Blue Jays in 1997, he really started playing regularly in 2002. His first full year, he batted .275, hit 22 homers and knocked in 100.
The following year (2003), he was incredible. He led the league in hits (215), doubles (49) and added 33 homers. He scored 118 runs and drove in 117. The two years after that, he was ordinary. Then he had another really good year in 2006. He was less than ordinary in 2007, good again in 2008 and has been terrible this year. Who is this guy and why is he all over the board?
How all over the board? His OPS during his eight years as a starter: .762, .909, .809, .783. .899, .706, .840 and this year's horrid .665. Wow. That's a lot of ups and downs. His fielding has also been all over the place. He's had years where his RTOT was -10.5 and other years where it was 20.1. In 2007, it was 9.6. Last year it was -11.7.
With most players, you can get a feel for where they will settle in as far as the end of the season. Look at guys like Dunn. The same numbers nearly every year. Beltran is the same way. That's the whole way projection systems like Baseball Prospectus operate. How do you project a guy like Vernon Wells? He's all over the place. Perhaps eyebleaf, or another good writer that eyebleaf has turned the Fan on to such as the blog called TaosforSteib (or something like that) would have some insight into why Wells has been so spotty.
As for this writer, he has no idea. All he knows is that, thanks to the Internet and its ability to showcase writers all over the country, the Fan now cares about Vernon Wells and will be checking him out regularly. Geez. How did that happen?