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Sickels wonders how to get a better understanding of players minds.


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From Sickels

i've written about makeup before. We have made incredible strides in objective, statistical, sabermetric analysis over the last 30 years. To be honest, the math has improved enough that I can't always follow it (there is a reason I was a history and philosophy student). Sometimes I wonder if we're just inventing new and more complicated ways to express the same basic truths about baseball, and that at some point we will reach a moment of diminishing returns with the numbers. We aren't yet there, especially when it comes to fielding, but it will happen eventually.

So what is the next frontier in baseball analysis? I think it is getting inside the mind of the player. Which brings us back to the death of John Odom. I doubt we'll ever get the complete story of what happened here, but it serves as a reminder that players are not mere number generators. They are human beings, and there are certain things we will never be able to quantify.

Baseball teams are of course super-aware of personality issues. Many teams use standardized tests, and a good scout will do everything he can to learn about a player's background and personality. But even so. . .is there something we are missing here?

I've occasionally joked about Jungian Baseball Analysis being the next frontier in this area. More on this issue coming up. . .I'm still trying to organize my thoughts about how all this can be integrated.

Some of his responders

As for the makeup issues… The Celtics and some others swear by the work of Dr. Jon Niednagel, who specializes in sports personality typing. Yes, that ESFP, INTJ stuff… http://www.braintypes.com/bglobe.htm

That stuff is pretty interesting. Ive been wondering for awhile how useful it would be for MLB entry draft purposes. The only issue is teams sometimes dont know much at all about who theyre drafting… Its hard enough to scout them all on a baseball level… So finding out their personality types or much more about their makeup is hardly feasible. Im pretty sure this is the future, though. Its just hard to say when it will arrive.

This was brought about by a tragic story about the guy who was traded for a box of bats. He went on a major depression run and ODed. I think its hard to say that the trade wasnt a major part of his mental state at the end of his life.

Its kinda bizarre Sickels is so cold to the actual tragedy and his first thoughts are about how Stat Geek guys could find out who are the weak minded Yahoo's and weed them out.

This psychological profiling was done by the Orioles until a couple of years ago when Flanagan had to fire the guy in the front office who was the biggest proponent of it. I dont think he would of been let go if he wasnt in the media making the Orioles look like a laughing stock.

Wonder if psychological profiles will become much better as we get technology to actually see how the brain works. Something similar to how they can see into the brain of people who have a tendency for major violent crimes. (2 or more murders) They think they can figure out who will be more prone to committing violent crimes just by the way their brain looks. Brave New World is on the way.

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I don't think I read the post quite the same way you did... Sickels didn't appear to be cold to me, actually, it sounded quite the opposite. He's in the business of judging and grading prospects, so he's reminding himself (and others) that players "are not mere number generators." Earlier in the post, he characterizes the story as "horrible." And I don't think he states, or even implies, that psychological tests should be used to "find out who are the weak minded Yahoo's and weed them out."

I think the Dave Ritterpusch/Orioles debacle rested more with the O's promoting guys like Brian Finch (actually, the only example I know of) to higher levels based not off of performance, but more because of psychological test results.

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