Mo Woe

At age 58, it's probably too late for me to outgrow my infantile fascination with funny baseball names and numbers. As all of us who care know, baseball stats only mean anything when taken in context and measured against norms, and they have a way of averaging out over the course of a whole year, or a career. But in the early going of a season, like now, they can be wonderfully skewed, either freakishly high or low, because the sample size of games is still so small. For example, take Brock Holt, the super-sub of the Boston Red Sox. He plays second, third, short, centerfield, does impressions and doubles as bat-boy, and entered yesterday's action with a batting average over .600. Or on the other end of the spectrum, our brand new All-Star catcher Russell Coltrane ("A Glove Supreme") Martin, who's currently batting .043 and is still in search of his second hit as a Blue Jay. You just know that by season's end both these guys will we hitting somewhere between .250 and .280, unless something goes wonderfully right or horribly wrong for them. In April, players can go from spaghetti-bat to feared slugger in a day, like Boston's Dustin Pedroia. He entered Tuesday's action hitting .212 - "Pedroia, you suck!!" - then promptly raised his batting average to about .280 with three hits and a walk in one game - "Just kidding Pedey, we love you, you're still the best!!" It's even wilder with pitchers and their key stat of earned-run-average, or ERA. (Any of you dangerous intellectuals more [...]