Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The Leadership Factor Score (LFS) of Kevin Millar

Recently in the Shout Box, Keith wondered why Al Yellon seems to have a man crush on Kevin Millar.  Were you to mosey on over to Bleed Cubbie Blue, you would read the following sentence: "I would still like to see the Cubs sign Kevin Millar to back up LF, RF and 1B... and to be that clubhouse presence that was missing, somehow, during the disastrous 2008 postseason."

Now, I'm not Al Yellon - obviously, because I permit links to and discussions about other Cubs blogs, even though to do so apparently threatens to eat into my readership and ad revenue somehow - but his desire for Millar is obviously based on more than a clinical review of the numbers.  It's about a call into question regarding the intangibles of baseball.

Let's take a close look at Kevin Millar.  The first thing we might notice is that the dude will be 37 next year.  After that, we might encounter that he batted .234 with a .323 OBP and a .394 slugging percentage, although he did hit 20 homeruns and walk 71 times last year.

Going beyond that, we also find that, while Yellon wants Millar to serve as a backup to 1B, LF, and RF, the guy has played a grand whopping total of 3 games in the outfield in the past 3 years.

In other words, Millar's not going to win you games with his bat or with his glove.  I guess that he must have a high leadership score or something, I don't know.  Similar to Kyle's Scrappy White Player Factor, maybe there would be a way to clinically determine a player's Leadership Factor Score.

Some things that could go into calculating the score ...

Number of times player has had sex with a teammate's wife/girlfriend/sister/mother/daughter.  A promiscuous player is perhaps well respected by certain elements of any clubhouse (like Mickey Mantle, who was a legendary skirt chaser), but if he risks crossing a line, it could negatively effect how he is seen by his teammates.  If Lee Dershipman, our hypothetical example, caves in at a moment of weakness and nails every piece of tail in a teammate's immediate family, then he's going to lose Leadership Cred.

Points are assigned based on a scale of 1-10.  If Lee has nailed a teammate's wife, daughter (if she is under 18, multiply this loss x5 for every year she is underage), mother, or girlfriend, he loses 10 points.  He loses 5 points for a teammate's sister - which can be regained x2 if he winds up marrying her and 3 points for a cousin (1 point if the cousin is distant).  If Lee sleeps with a teammate's mother but then goes on to marry her, it's still creepy and upsetting and he loses an additional 10 points.  All losses are cumulative, so if Lee bangs the teammate's wife on Monday, girlfriend on Tuesday, sister on Wednesday, mother on Thursday, daughter on Friday, and a cousin on Saturday, he loses 53 points over the span of the week.  If he has them all in one epic love-making session, multiply the losses x10.

Times a player has injured himself making a game saving play. There's nothing a teammate respects more than when a player will throw his body into a brick wall to make a game-changing catch.  10 points for each catch that result in a minor injury, 5 points if it just looks painful, and 20 points if the player has to go on the DL.  Additional points get tallied if:

  • Lee Dershipman has never been caught watching his own highlights by a teammate.  Nobody likes a narcissist.  -10 points if he gets caught, +10 points if he doesn't get caught.
  • Lee makes the bone-crushing catch during a contract year.  Points are doubled if the injury occurs before July, because he has basically sacrificed his season - and shaved millions off his potential contract offers - in the name of winning.  Up to +40 points for this one.
  • Lee brags constantly about his catch to the media and others.  -10, unless said bragging lands him some trim, at which point it becomes +5

Times a player has delivered a game-winning hit. +2 points for every successful game-winning hit, but -1 point for each time he fails.  There is also an additional cumulative effect to this calculation.  If Lee wins 2 games in 2 tries, he gets his score of +4, but winning them consecutively adds a multiplier of x2.  If he goes 4 for 4 in game-winning situations, Lee Dershipman scores +8 points x4, for a total of 32 points.  Similarly, if Lee goes down swinging multiple times in a row, those failures culminate as well.  So, if he goes 0 for 5 in a row in clutch situations, he doesn't lose 5 points, he loses 5 points x5, or 25 total.

Gives a rousing speech to his teammates. This is a tricky category because it can be used too often, but probably has to be done occasionally in order to deliver enough leadership points to make a real difference.  If Lee gives a rousing speech to his teammates while they are suffering through a losing streak and they are inspired to win, he gains +10 points.  However, if Lee gives these little speeches too often, they begin to lose their potency, even if the team keeps winning - 7 points for the second one, 5 for the third, 3 for the fourth, -1 for the fifth, -3 for the sixth, and so-on.

If Lee gives a rousing speech but the team loses, there is no negative effect to his score.  However, if they get blown out, he receives a -5, and if they lose because he makes an error or fails to deliver a clutch hit, he receives a -10.

If Lee is more of a quiet leader type, and only gives one of these speeches per season, he gains +25 points should his team win.  Also, all points are doubled if he wins the game for his team with either his glove or bat.

There are other minor factors that would go into the Leadership Factor Score.  I'll outline some of them via bullet point:

  • Is the first one out in a bench clearing brawl +5
  • Is the last one out in a bench clearing brawl -5
  • Takes a rookie under his wing +5, cumulative
  • Maintains a kangaroo court in the clubhouse +5
  • Yells at the manager in front of his team if the skipper is stepping over the lines +5
  • Yells at the skipper in private if he is stepping over the line +10
  • Never stands up for his teammates - 10 per situation
  • Has won a World Championship, +0 (sorry, any idiot can win a World Series)
  • Doesn't talk about his salary in the clubhouse or during a game +10
  • Talks excessively about his salary -10
  • Talks to the media, but only to take the blame for losses or to humbly discuss his successes +5 per time
  • Talks to the media excessively -10 per time

I'm sure there are others we can include as well, but what is certain is this - no fan of baseball can accurately calculate these numbers.  It would take an impartial player in the clubhouse to observe and log all of the relevant factors toward the LFS.

But is this Kevin Millar?  Does he have such a high LFS that it makes up for his poor production, his lack of defensive skill, and his age?  I dunno, are we having this conversation because he was the one who coined the term "idiots" and said "cowboy up" to the Red Sox during their '04 drive?

Regardless of what Millar's LFS is, I would have to argue that it's just a smidgen overrated.  I mean, yes, I'm the same guy who wrote recently about the Cubs not having that guy on their team, which spurned a debate at Another Cubs Blog, but I've never suggested - nor would I - that that guy should be an over-the-hill hack like Kevin Millar.  If the Cubs even need that guy, then he should be somebody who can actually hit the ball and play regularly.

Besides, for some reason I think I've heard stories about what an unmitigated douchebag Millar is.

So, Keith, to answer your question, Al Yellon is caving in to the worst kind of overthinking fan mentality.  He's subscribing to the magic bullet - or, in this case, magic baseball bat - theory that one player of a certain type can make all the difference in a season.  I don't know if Yellon took this point of view 10 years ago, but it's the same sort of thing as proclaiming that 1998 19-game winner Kevin Tapani "knows how to win" because he did it so often that year, despite posting a 4.85 ERA.  I guess Tapani must've immediately forgotten "how to win," though, because he went on to lose 15 more games than he won over the next 3 years (his record was 6-12, 8-12, and 9-14 each of those years).

If Kevin Millar "knows how to win," if he has that intangible, leadership quality the Cubs so desperately lacked these past two years, if he swings a hefty, magic baseball bat, then how did the Orioles lose damn close to 100 games?

So much for leadership.

The answer to why Millar didn't impact the Orioles.

He was only one man. Plus, the Orioles played in the AL East. Granted, I don't think bringing Millar is a great idea. We already have a back up 1st baseman who happens to be a lefty.

To be honest, if we want to bring in Kevin Millar, we might as well exume the body of Nelson de la Rosa (or Pedro's midget.) Afterall, he brought the Red Sox good "luck" during the 2004 playoff run.

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