Key to Winning: Scrubs Having a Breakout Season

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2009 2:08 PM CDT
Gabe Kapler came out of retirement to have a career year for Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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(Newser) – It takes more to build a winning baseball team these days than pure statistical analysis, writes Darren Everson in the Wall Street Journal. You need someone with what Everson terms “Bellhorn Syndrome.” Mark Bellhorn, owner of a .264 slugging average the previous year, became an inexplicable hero for Boston during its 2004 World Series campaign. In a sport where seemingly everything is quantifiably predictable, a few such inexplicable surprises strike each year.

Executives say they typically look for either experienced position players with a strong work ethic—think Gabe Kapler, who came out of retirement to have a career year in 2008—or healthy relief pitchers who may have hit a string of bad luck, like Jeremy Affeldt, an unlikely key to Colorado’s World Series bullpen. Still, not every such gamble works out, cautions Colorado’s general manager. “It is an inexact science.”