Scrappy White People
There has been a phrase bouncing around this site recently that has sparked my interest: Scrappy, White People (or SWP as I will refer to it now).
We all have an idea of what a SWP is (remember that little turd burger David Eckstein), but the phenomenon of SWP is intriguing.
A lot of people like to see it as a social issue of how we view sports. Others might define SWP as a byproduct of the origins of baseball (originated by scrappy, white dudes). Well after some deep thinking, I’ve concluded that the best way to evaluate and use SWP is as a statistic.
Yes, I am suggesting that SWP should be an official baseball stat…and here is how it should be calculated.
Scrappiness (1-10, 1 having no scrappiness and 10 being extremely scrappy)
This measure is based on how this player presents himself as well as approaches the game. Someone with a high scrappiness rating usually doesn’t have a lot of flair in their appearance or playing style. They like to do the dirty work (do whatever it takes to get on base, like getting hit by a pitch) and their style manifests itself in high socks and/or facial hair.
Average Whiteness (1-10, 1 not being your average white guy and 10 being a very average white guy)
It goes without saying that a player’s SWP relies somewhat on his ability to be…ya know…white. However, I find that most people attribute an SWP title to a player who seems to represent them (the average fan). People cheer for these guys because they look like they could be our neighbor, our friend, or even us. They give us hope that even we could be a professional baseball player, thus bringing us closer to the game.
Hype (1-10, 1 being they have received a lot of hype before entering the Bigs and 10 being they had no hype at all).
Usually SWP players seem to come out of no where. They often receive little fan fare in the minors and make their name playing scrappy (as defined above) baseball with the big club. This also happens to help them when things go bad. If an SWP player is not performing that well, then he doesn’t necessarily get to hear it from the fans because nobody expected him to do that much anyway. Plus, he’ll get more time to recover from a slump before the fans turn on him.
Athletic ability/size (1-10, 1 being very athletic and 10 being average athleticism)
A player with lots of athletic ability (Patterson, Pie) usually has high expectations to succeed and thus receives a lot of flak when they fail to meet expectations. For some reason, the average person has a hard time understanding why those blessed with athletic ability cannot utterly dominate in sports. On the other hand, SWP players are often slow, fat, short, or some combination of these things. This, again, brings us into the realm of average whiteness, but this has more to do with abilities. They less the look like athletes, the less we judge them as such.
“Right Way” factor (1-10, 1 does not play the game the “Right Way” and 10 plays the game the “Right Way”)
We hear this A LOT when announcers or fans try to describe a SWP player. But honestly, what the hell does this mean? By my account, it seems to mean being patient at the plate, hitting the ball to the opposite field, making solid (but not great) defensive plays, not being a showboat, not being afraid to get some dirt on the uniform, and respecting the tradition of the game. So basically, being good at the things that will not make you a superstar.
After you have figured out all these rankings, add them up and divide by 50. This is your SWP rating. Obviously, this number can flux as a player changes over the tenure of a Major League career, thus letting players transit between the status of scrappy, white player and just a regular player.
Let’s see this formula in action. Ryan Theriot will be our example (I’m not going to explain my ratings because this post is already long enough, so I’m just shooting from the hip):
Average Whiteness: 8
Athletic ability/size: 7 (remember the higher the number the less athletic)
“Right Way” factor: 9
Total Score: 39.5
SWP rating: .790
Theriot looks to be in pretty good shape to be a scrappy, white person. As long as he can maintain his scrappiness above .600, then I think he should be fine to represent the Cubs as their designated SWP. Of course, if not, we can always send him down to AAA Iowa to work on it.