On slow starts and small sample sizes


Last night, after he failed to record a hit, reporters pestered David Ortiz with questions about his slow start, and the embattled Red Sox DH erupted in the greatest example of Mad Libs ever. “You guys wait ’til [expletive] happens, then you can talk [expletive]. Two [expletive] games, and already you [expletives] are going crazy,” he said. “What’s up with that, man? [Expletive]. [Expletive] 160 games left. That’s a [expletive]. One of you [expletives] got to go ahead and hit for me.”

Earlier today, Fack Youk, in a post that fills in the graphic-language blanks, takes on the topic of small sample sizes and the early goings. We know that slow starts don’t mean much in the grand scheme of a 162-game season. We know that players will eventually regress to the means, get their hits, hit their home runs. We know that we can’t judge Ortiz on eight plate appearances and can’t proclaim the return of Joba based on two strike outs. Yet, so many people — from players to fans to reporters — do so. Anyway, check out what Matt had to say at Fack Youk, and remember that there are “[expletive] 160 games left.”

Categories : Asides, Rants


  1. Nady Nation says:

    Papi’s rant reeks of ‘roid rage (no, that was not an intentional alliteration). Reports out of Boston say that he’s investigating what caused that outburst last night, and he’ll get back to us when he has more information.

  2. bexarama says:

    Ortiz is totally right that it’s a small sample size, but it’s hilarious to see him blow up like that. As someone said, bring the guy a happy milkshake! The line about throwing the mango salsa at the reporter was pretty fantastic. It kinda makes me wish A-Rod responded like this whenever someone asked him about his playoff performances prior to 2009.

    Also can we please not turn this into a Joba discussion? Pretty pretty please?

  3. Steve H says:

    It is ridiculous, but in Papi’s case it’s been prompted by the questions he’s been facing since the offseason. Everyone was hanging a huge question mark on Papi for 2010, especially when the Lowell traded didn’t go through. If you told me a week ago Ortiz would be 0′fer the first two games, I could have guaranteed there would be mediots making a big deal out of it. Look at Rosenthal, he started his nonsense on the Yankees LF before the season even started, and the Yankees, unlike the Red Sox, don’t have a perfectly good replacement. If Garnder was 0-7 through 2 games, the same (stupid) articles would be written.

  4. T-Dubs says:

    “You guys wait ’til milkshake happens, then you can talk worms. Two funky games, and already you baristas are going crazy,” he said. “What’s up with that, man? Carpet. Steaming 160 games left. That’s a kangaroo. One of you spear fisherman got to go ahead and hit for me.”

  5. pete says:

    Ugh. Good for Ortiz, honestly. I wish more players would flip out at reporters when they pestered them with SSS-related issues. Not to say that I exactly expect a monster year out of Ortiz, just that there is literally nothing true today that wasn’t true a week ago.

  6. Beamish says:

    Early season “small sample size” paranoia is such manufactured news that players should just learn to stare at the reporters after these questions then just laugh as they walk away.

    Twice through the rotation and then I might start thinking there could be something worth watching for the next two times through.

    On May 1 maybe we can draw some early conclusions.

    • pete says:

      even then, all you’ve really got is how players have played thus far. It’d still be too early to make a call about what kind of season they’ll wind up with. But two games in, you don’t even have a good gauge of how players are actually playing.

  7. bexarama says:

    can I just comment that Ortiz’s swing is incredibly ugly and it’s always bothered me? Waaah.

  8. Thank You Michael Lewis says:

    Ortiz is exactly right. To make an issue over two games is absurd. The best example of the effects of a small sample size comes from a 2009 article over at The Hardball Times

    “My purpose here today is to talk about the two batting lines posted below the jump. Both are from exactly 50 games, but I extrapolated each one out to 150 games just so you can get a better feel for what all these numbers mean over a full season.

    A: .340/.399/.716, 19 HR, 51 RBI, 43 runs 13 2B, .454 wOBA (223 PA)
    B: .222/.294/.418, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 28 runs 14 2B, .290 wOBA (214 PA)

    And here are those numbers extrapolated out to a full season of 150 games:

    A: .340/.399/.716, 57 HR, 153 RBI, 129 runs 39 2B, .454 wOBA
    B: .222/.294/.418, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 84 runs 42 2B, .290 wOBA

    The first line is Babe Ruth-esque, the second line is more Rob Deer-ish. Stop me if you’ve seen this before… but both batting lines are from the same player. The first “player” is the batting line of Raul Ibanez from his first 50 games this season, the second line is from his next 50 games (he’s played in a convenient 100 games this season). ”

    Source: http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....o-seasons/

  9. mustang says:

    The only problem I have here is what’s the need for the outburst?

    If Papi believes in his statement, which is true, and believes in his ability to rebound to his former self then is there really a need to go off?
    I wonder if his outburst is less about the media and more about an aging player with contract issues that is watching his skills diminish and really has no answers.

  10. Pete C. says:

    Ortiz won’t be able to return to his former glory. That was his prime, maybe he was on PED’s to boot. His problem is he’s probably wondering some of this stuff a little himself.
    Nothing lasts forever, especially the ability of an elite hitter. No more Manny, maybe no more juice and no more youth, make up a pretty daunting trifecta to overcome.
    Say Hey, even Willie Mays had to deal with it.

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