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Thursday, April 22, 2010
What we mean when we say 'makeup'

Kevin Goldstein on the latest über-amateur:

You should read the whole thing, as all four questions are relevant and worth asking. I want to focus on just the fourth, though:

Or maybe not happily. But willingly. The Pirates won three straight division titles with Barry Bonds in the lineup. When evaluating young baseball players, teams have to separate their desires into "need-to-haves" and "like-to-haves." When you have the first pick in the draft, you need to have a great deal of confidence in a young player's talent. You'd like to have someone with Joe Mauer's personality. But how many Joe Mauers are there, really?

And I think it's important to precisely define "makeup," which in this case seems to cover Harper's interactions with other human beings. I just started reading a novel about maybe the greatest player in major league history. In 12 seasons he wins seven MVP Awards, three Triple Crowns, etc. The guy has no (apparent) personality, though. Communicates mostly with stares and grunts. Doesn't seem to have any friends. Doesn't take any sort of instruction from his managers or coaches. Shows up at spring training early or late, depending on some sort of instinctual migration impulse.

That sort of behavior might qualify John Barr for the "bad makeup" tag. Throw a Milo on him. Except in those 12 seasons, his team (the Mets, actually) wins nine division titles and five World Series.

To me, "makeup" should include a healthy space for a player's willingness and ability to work at becoming a better baseball player. Maybe Bryce Harper falls short there, too. But if I'm running a draft, I'm a lot more worried about how good a player he'll be than how much fun he'll be in the clubhouse.