Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frank Gore

I have to say that Frank Gore is the most underrated running back in the NFL right now and possibly the most underrated player in the entire NFL. Where do you think he ranks in yards from scrimmage this year in the NFL? Top 20? Top 10? Would you believe that he is third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage? What makes that even more impressive is that the 49ers have no other offensive weapons and he still manages to pile up yards. And it is not like he is a one year wonder. Two years ago he rushed for 1700 yard while constantly facing 8-men in the box because the 49ers had no passing game

The reason he doesn't any credit is because he is on a terrible team. It is really hard to get recognition if you are on a terrible team. Look at LDT, he didn't start getting recognition as one of the best running backs in the league until the Chargers became a playoff caliber team. But its really unfair that Gore gets no credit while lesser backs get a lot of praise.

Gore is the most complete back in the entire NFL right now. He runs, he catches, he blocks, he does it all. Obviously he is a very good back running the ball from the back field. But what people don't realize is that this year he has been lining up at receiver and catching the ball from there. He has displayed outstanding hands and the ability to adjust to the ball in the air.

What separates Gore from other backs in the league is the combination of the ability to make people miss and his power running. If you watch a 49ers game you will be surprised at the number of would-be tacklers who he makes miss. He also has the ability to run over safeties once he gets to the second level. Perhaps his best skill though, is his vision. He always seems to find the hole even when it doesn't look like one is there.

I am not saying Gore is the perfect back. His biggest weakness is his lack of top end speed. But there is no other back that does everything as well as Gore. Peterson/Jacobs contribute nothing to the passing game. Tomlinson is clearly not the back he has been the past few years. Guys like Portis or Turner might have the top end speed, but they don't make people miss like Gore does. I doubt many other people see the same thing I do, but hopefully one day Gore will get the recognition he deserves.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Maybe the Rhodes Scholarship Will Pay for Some New Clothes

Here is a good article about a true scholar athlete. Myron Rolle, one of the best defensive players in the country, is probably going to miss a huge game in order to interview for the Rhodes Scholarship (yeah the one from Oxford). It is a good story, but what I really wanted to comment on was the pictures Rolle took of himself when he went to study abroad in England. Looks like he had a good time, but one thing I couldn't help but notice is that every single one of his shirts were FSU shirts. Dude's got to get some new clothes. I wonder if every single shirt he owns is an FSU shirt. Probably not, but I'd put the over under on the percentage of shirts he owns that are FSU at about 85%. I hope he gets the scholarship so at the very least he can get some Oxford shirts. The funny thing is that most of his pants look like they are from FSU too.

Does a Gold Glove Mean Anything?

In the last two days the gold glove awards have been given out for both the AL and the NL. They are supposed to go to the best defensive player in the league at their position and are voted by players and managers. It seems that instead of going to the best defensive players they are going to the players who make the most diving catches. How else can you explain the fact that Nate McLouth won a gold glove?

Does anyone really think that he was one of the top three outfielders in the National League this year? Well, I guess a lot of players and managers do. I don't know exactly what their votes are based on, but they are probably based on two things: errors and spectacular plays. Think about it for a moment, when do you notice a player's defense? Either when he makes a mistake or when he makes a great play. But how often does that happen in a season? Most outfielders don't make a lot of errors, so it pretty much comes down to great plays. And sure McLouth made a lot of great looking plays. But you know why he made a lot of great looking plays? Because he is a bad fielder.

Yeah that's right, he made a lot of diving catches and "hustle plays" because he takes terrible routes to the ball and has poor instincts. He makes a lot of routine plays look more difficult because he puts himself behind the eight-ball from the start. He is to outfielders what Derek Jeter is to shortstops (minus the rings, women, fame and soap opera feuds).

If you look at the numbers, Nate McLouth is not only not among the best outfielders in the league, he is among the worst. Take a look at Bill James fielder rating based on the number of outs a player makes on balls hit in his area. (Here is the link, just click on plus/minus leaders 2008. There is also a more thorough explanation of the statistic on the site.) And what do you know, the lowest outfielder in the entire all of baseball last year was Nate McLouth. And it's not like it was some kind of fluke, he has the worst ratings for center fielders over the past three years. On the positive he did better than such defensive greats as Pat Burrell, Manny Ramirez, and Adam Dunn over the past three years (unfortunately not in 2008 though).

Think about that, one of the worst fielders got a gold glove. It would be like giving Daniel Cabrera the Cy Young. They literally could not have picked a worse candidate. Now that is not true for all of their selections, which did not include any terrible defensive players. Usually they picked average defensive players and not the best ones. Their omission of Chase Utley was particularly glaring.

Now I am not writing this to rag on Nate McLouth, he had an outstanding offensive year last year and is a good overall player who is probably playing out of position at center field. All I am trying to say is that the Gold Glove award seems to be awarded almost at random. All people notice is who makes the spectacular plays, it would be like giving the silver slugger award to whoever hit the most 450 foot homeruns, or the Cy Young to the pitcher who through over 98 MPH the most. Defense isn't about making a few great plays, its about getting outs and until players and managers realize that they are going to lessen the value of the gold glove.