The Law of Truly Large Numbers

The Law of Truly Large Numbers
With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is likely to happen. The point is that truly rare events, say events that occur only once in a million [as the mathematician Littlewood (1953) required for an event to be surprising] are bound to be plentiful in a population of 250 million people. If a coincidence occurs to one person in a million each day, then we expect 250 occurrences a day and close to 100,000 such occurrences a year.

Going from a year to a lifetime and from the population of the United States to that of the world (5 billion at this writing), we can be absolutely sure that we will see incredibly remarkable events. When such events occur, they are often noted and recorded. If they happen to us or someone we know, it is hard to escape that spooky feeling.

26 March 2013


Here is the list of offensive players who were never ranked in a BA top 100 list but are in the top 100 fWAR of all hitters to start their career since 1990:
NameTotal fWARfWAR RankOrg. Top Rank
Jim Edmonds67.6139 (1994)
Jeff Kent6121N/A
Luis Gonzalez59.2258 (1991)
Brian Giles5926N/A
Jason Giambi52.5304 (1995)
Jorge Posada46.5377 (1995)
Matt Holliday44.5404 (1994)
David Justice42.4464 (1987)
Placido Polanco42.24711 (1999)
Jeff Cirillo36.364N/A
John Valentin32.778N/A
Robinson Cano32.6802 (2005)
Randy Winn29.8898 (1996)
Kevin Youkilis29.4923 (2003)
Rich Aurilia29.2947 (1996)
Michael Young29967 (2001)
Brian Roberts28.610010 (2001)
Jim Edmonds was never ranked in the top 100 prospects by Baseball America and only ranked as high as ninth in the Angels organization. John Sickelsdid a career profile on him and includes this quote from the 1995 STATS Major League Scouting Notebook:
Edmonds can expect to see his playing time diminish. While he showed some signs of developing as a hitter, his role will probably be reduced to fourth outfielder. This more closely suits his abilities.
Fourth outfielder he was not.
Four of these 17 players (Kent, Giles, Cirillo, and Valentin) were not ranked on their organizational lists.
I would definitely like to see a retrospective on Kent, but JockBio has a long story on his career, including some notes about his minor league performance.
Like his little brother Marcus, Brian Giles never excited scouts, even when he was putting up big numbers in the minors. He didn't have "great tools" or any plus attribute, except of course his bat, which is the most important tool of all.

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