Monday, June 20, 2011

Jose Bautista's Key to Success: His Beard


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There's something that I've pondered ever since Jose Bautista has adorned his ever famous facial hair choice: can Bautista's beard be attributed to his success?

Jose has openly credited his success to increased playing time, starting his swing earlier, and watching episodes of Hoarders to build his confidence, but perhaps he should be thanking his razor for his success, or lack thereof actually.

Prior to the beard Jose Bautista dabbled in the facial hair department; a soul patch here, a moustache there, but nothing quite as grandiose and sophisticated as a beard.

Now if you watch Jose Bautista very closely throughout the season, you'll notice that he doesn't keep his beard at exactly the same thickness the entire season. Sometimes he's close-shaven, and other times his beard approaches hobo-like status.

So just out of curiosity, I wanted to see whether Jose Bautista's beard thickness could be correlated with things like this batting average, on base percentage and on base plus slugging. You'll be be surprised at the results.

Click image to enlarge
The lines are pretty self explanatory as AVG, OBP and OPS, but there's a fourth statistic in there which has yet to be enstilled by Major League Baseball and that's beard percentage or BRD. How in the heck did I track Jose Bautista's beard growth, you ask?

Unfortunately, yours truly isn't fortunate to be around Jose Bautista each day to measure exactly how much longer his beard is each day to day, so I went by photos to determine the thickness of his facial hair.

If we go by the patterns, Jose Bautista either likes to start fresh and go clean-shaven every two weeks or so, or at least trim down his beard. The bigger question at hand though is does a thicker beard mean better results for Bautista at the plate?

In my opinion as someone who has just created a very official-looking graph with one column of data that's purely based on unsubstantiated evidence ... yes.

You'll notice that Jose Bautista's AVG, OBP and OPS is at its highest when his beard is also at its fullest. And if of you look closely, the parallels between Bautista's OPS and BRD from April 20th to 24th are eerily similar.

I don't know, is this just me fishing for justification for this entire hairbrain theory, or is that Jose Bautista's beard growth rising at the exact same rate as is OPS?

Sure, we can just chalk it up to a pure coincidence, but I thought graphing something helped land extra credibility to something. Are you telling me I went to all this trouble for ... nevermind.

Bautista's batting average and on base percentage have essentially flattened out as the season has progresed, so the only variation here is his on base plus slugging and his BRD (beard percentage).

Until Jose Bautista starts keeping a daily log of how long his beard is and shares it with the public, this is the next best forum for seeing if his beard thickness has anything to do with his success.

If we can take anything at all away from this extremely insightful post is that a clean-shaven Jose Bautista does not perform quite as well as a bearded one.

When opposing pitchers see a baby-faced Bautista, they might be more included to attack him with their better pitches, whereas when Bautista has a full-on beard, perhaps they're more intimidated and leave pitches out in the zone for Jose to hit?

Your guess is as good as mine, folks ... I'm just saying I'd be afraid of pitching to someone who looked like the Most Interesting Man in the World, too. So let's make sure Bautista keeps rocking the beard as long as possible.

Brian Wilson may have hitters fearing the beard, but when Jose Bautista steps into the batter's box, pitchers in trouble when they see the stubble.

Update: By request, I've added Jose Bautista's slugging line to the graph. Starting around the May 21st mark, it basically mirrors the slight downward trend of his OPS. This can probably be attributed to a bevy of singles being hit since then (23 in total) and not many extra base hits (only 8).

9 comments:

  1. Coincidentally, I noticed yesterday the Bautista Beard (BRD) appeared a little meager. My theory is that perhaps Joey Bats is a superstitious man, and we can attribute this phenomenon to self-fulfilling prophecy: Samson believes the beard gives him his strength, so when he trims it, he subconsciously underperforms.

    Credibility: undergrad psychology student

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  2. 2Tweet2dream, I think you're right - Jose does appear to be kind of superstitious, especially when it comes to his beard. When he's in the midst of a "funk", I believe he trims it in hopes it will restore its power.

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  3. The Avg, and OBP don't look to be changing all that much, that means the dip in OPS must come from slugging. I wonder if the beard gives him strength? Would you be able to plot slugging % in there as well?

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  4. Anon, that's what I suspect as well. I'll see if I can plot the SLG line later on today to see how much of a difference that makes, thanks for the suggestion!

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  5. I can recall last year sometime he was in a bit of a slump (if such a thing exists for Bautista) and after not getting hits a couple of fully bearded at-bats into a game, he came out of the dugout completely clean-shaven. It didn't work (although it would have been amazing if it did).

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  6. BlueJaynator, a mid-game shave? Wow, Jose must really have thought that would be a slump buster!

    As 2Tweet2Dream mentioned, I'm suspecting it's this perceived notion that when Bautista is slumping, he should shave the beard off (or have a one-day moustache). But if we go by the data, if anything Bautista actually drops off a little bit after he shaves the beard.

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  7. Most. Intimidating. Chart. Ever.

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  8. Great start. One problem is that OPS, AVE, and OBP gain more weight as the season goes on. Making statistical fluctuations less pronounced. A way to combat this is to use moving averages. Perhaps a 14 day moving average compared to your beard index might shed some more light on the subject.

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  9. Dan, thanks sir - my Grade 10 computer teacher will be proud I actually grew up to use Microsoft Excel for something useful.

    Anon, good suggestion - if I regraph this again at the end of the year, we can probably have a much better idea of what's going on. Maybe I will revisit this at the end of the season.

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