A few months back, I wrote an article asking if the more hardcore fans, those who read & write blogs and are interested in advanced statistics, are further out of touch with common fans than we thought. What set me off on that at the time was that despite all of the knowledge that’s come into the game in the post-Moneyball era, you still had a seeming majority of more casual Dodger fans clamoring to replace Manny Ramirez with Juan Pierre. (Before anyone notes that Manny’s been struggling, remember that Pierre is rocking a .606 OPS in Chicago, the lowest of his non-distinguished career, and the Dodgers got John Ely and Jon Link for him.)
What brings me back to this today is the reaction to Stephen Strasburg‘s debut last night, which was jaw-dropping in the sense that he somehow managed to exceed the hype. (And don’t think I didn’t smile when old friend Delwyn Young managed to take him deep.) As high as the anticipation was for Strasburg’s start, it was nothing compared to the rush to start carving out his bust for Cooperstown immediately afterwards, including notes from people I respect like from Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron:
Stephen Strasburg‘s xFIP: -0.50. That’s right – negative zero point five zero.
Obviously it’s just one start, but what Strasburg accomplished under that spotlight was so impressive that no one with a lick of baseball knowledge could possibly say anything bad about it, with ESPN’s Buster Olney actually going so far as to say that he allowed Young’s homer because his change-up was too good. (Uh, yeah. I know.)
No one, that is, except the readers of the New York Daily News:
Really, people? I didn’t expect this to be the 100% landslide it really should have been, but nearly 2/3 of the people responding to this poll think it’s just because the Pirates blow, and not that Strasburg was just that good? I suppose I’m placing too much importance on what is a completely unscientific poll, but still. It’s things like this which make me realize we have so much further to go.