At the Cubs Convention, fans seemed to be particularly excitable about two things. The first was their adoration for all things Theo. The second was their desperate need to tell new manager Dale Sveum to get his players to hustle.

That’s probably why, when they were introduced, Theo Epstein got the biggest cheer, and Alfonso Soriano got the only boos.

I wasn’t pleased by those boos, but I suppose I can understand them. Fans were booing a number of things when Soriano walked onto the balcony – Jim Hendry, Soriano’s contract, the Cubs’ struggles in the last few years, Soriano’s defensive lapses and inability to resist a low and away slider. I’m not sure how rational it is to boo the man for those things, but, again, I suppose I can understand it.

And then there’s the “hustle” thing. Soriano was getting booed for that, too, and Sveum undoubtedly heard it. From the Chicago Tribune:

Sveum knows Soriano’s reputation well. But he pointed out that Soriano is not the only modern-day player who likes to watch what he believes is a home run.

“That’s one of those things where I’ve seen people do it,” Sveum said. “(Former Brewer) Billy Hall had a habit of doing that too, in Milwaukee. It wasn’t that he didn’t play hard or anything. It was almost a habit, and they feel bad after they do it.

“But unfortunately it’s a weird habit some people have. Deep fly balls, as hitters, sometimes you just (say), ‘I think I’ve got it, I think I’ve got it.’ So you didn’t really run as hard as you should’ve. But that’s a natural major league habit. It’s very hard to hit fly balls that are almost home runs, or you think might be a home run, and sprint to first base.

“It’s the other things — we want to be able to run balls out to the left side of the field. We want to be able to stretch singles into doubles, take hard turns, run the bases really hard.

“I know the fans don’t like that, but sometimes they have to understand that that’s a habit.”

I’ve never fully appreciated the connection between not running hard out of the box and total runs scored, though I suspect it’s smaller than many assume. Still, I get as frustrated as anyone watching a guy stare down a long fly ball.

The bummer for a guy like Soriano – this is pointed about by Sveum – is that he’s one of the hardest working guys, off the field, in baseball. There’s no lack of effort there, but we’re not able to see it on a daily basis.

Instead, we see an aging player with degrading skills, calmly observing a ball bouncing off the left field wall as he strolls out of the batters box and pockets another million.

And we boo.

It’s a shame, really, because very little of it is actually Soriano’s fault. If Sveum can do anything about the “hustle” issue this year, maybe it’s this: maybe he can help Alfonso Soriano hear fewer boos. I’m not sure how many more games it will win the Cubs, but it might make us all a little happier.

  • TonyP

    I hope he has a monster year!!!!  Repeat after me Sori, I will not swing at a slider in the left handed batter’s box.  I will not swing at a slider in the left handed batter’s box…

  • Brian

    Next is a 100 comments about how hustle has nothing to do with anything, even though, throughout the past few days all of the Cubs FO and managers have used the word like it does mean something.

  • Matt Murton

    It’s so refreshing to finally have someone talking about hustle the way Sveum and the head honchos do. Hustle is the only part of the game that you can count on showing up to the park daily, and the organization is going to start reaping the benefits as soon as this year. The huge difference between this year and last year is that Sveum has a level (and somewhat functional) head on his shoulders… Whether or not they win any games, this is going to be a fun, fun team to watch

    • DannyBallgame

      Matt Guitar Murton

  • JR Cubs

    I wil never be convinced that playing the game hard isn’t infectious for the rest of the team. When young players see a guy who got a stupid huge rich contract and not play hard, they think may they can get paid not playing hard. Or loll gagging around must be the mlb way. Soriano got paid and doesn’t run hard why should i run hard as a young player? Major Leaguers must just not play hard….
    I know many posters on this site thinks hustle means jack shit, but i couldn’t disagree more.
    Even if a players hustle is just for show, there is value in playing the game the right way. Aramis, and Soriano don’t get it. Good luck getting Sori to play the game hard Dale. If you are able to do that your a miracle worker…

    • Norm

      “Soriano got paid and doesn’t run hard why should i run hard as a young player?”
      If that young player can average 75 extra base hits a year and go 40/40 in a contract year, hustling would be at the bottom of my worries.
      If it’s Tony Campana and he’s not hustling, he won’t be a major leaguer for long.

      • JR Cubs

        I hear your point, but all I am saying is it would be nice if your highest paid player at least looked like they were playing harderand cared more than Soriano does.

    • DocWimsey

      Actually, some things that players do to “show” hustle are detrimental. For example, the extra arm and leg kicks that some guys put on to “show” how “hard” they are running just slow them down. Trying to rush the throw on a play just to show how hard you are trying leads to more errors than outs.

      Again, on field “hustle” is a tiny fraction of the work in baseball. Most of the work is off-field. And by all accounts, a lot of those guys you (probably) think do not play hard are renowned for putting in a lot of effort there.

      • JR Cubs

        Ok screw it. Theo and Jed, anyone who looks like they are playing hard on the field is “detrimental” to the team. Only look for players that are workout warriors in the gym, and play half ass on the field… Because there is a lot of value there on a young team… Is that better?

        I knew it wouldn’t take long for people to start saying hustling is stupid and not part of baseball.

        • Frank

          I don’t think that’s what they’re saying at all–there’s a difference between trying to look like you’re hustling, actually hustling, and doing the off-field work that fans don’t see–but should also count as “hustle.” Trying to look like you’re hustling–rushing a throw, for example–can be detrimental. We see when Soriano doesn’t run out a ground ball or watches a fly ball that turns to a long single–but we don’t see all the off-field work. As Brett said, Soriano’s one of the hardest working guys in baseball–off the field.

          • MontelleW_IA

            I’ll grant you that Sori may be the hardest working man in show business off of the field. (James Brown Reference), but….BUT….since that work doesn’t appear to be showing up in productivity on the field, as a fan – I want to see more hustle on the field. To try and fail is one thing….to stare down a ball that didnt make it over the fence – that’s entirely another. Furthermore, it doesn’t show the work behind the scenes. I also believe that work behind the scenes should reflect on the field – and frankly – we just aren’t seeing that.

        • DannyBallgame

          Hustling on the field and working hard off the field are the two components of a quality player. As much as Sori bugs the everlasting shit out of me, I don’t feel like he is a lazy player on or off the field. He watches way too many fly balls from the batters box, but he looks more tentative running at full speed than lazy.

      • Brian

        Showing and doing can be seen by the naked eye and my eye says, DO!

      • Drew

        Doc- I have to say I have always been a big believer in always playing the game in your top gear. That being said, I understand what you have noted here before (that sprinting to 1st on a routine grounder hardly ever works out). I also understand that it is a long season and that has to be accounted for.

        However, I firmly believe (without statistical back-up) that going 100% in other areas definately makes a difference. Rounding bases hard, diving for balls in the gap and in the hole, sprinting to a ball in the gap to hold runners with a good throw to the cut-off man, etc. are little hustle plays that i feel make a difference even at the major league level.

        • DocWimsey

          I have nothing against playing hard. My complaint has been that this is worrying about freckles on a patient with skin cancer. The Cubs did NOT lose last year because of hustle. They lost because they gave up a lot more HR than they hit. They lost because they gave up a lot more walks than they drew. I.e., they lost because the other teams jogged a lot more than they did.

          But I also disagree with your diagnosis of “hustle.” Sprinting to a ball in the gap is not hustle: it’s getting a great read and a great jump on the ball, which are things that are difficult to learn. Some guys have it, others don’t: but you cannot sprint if you are: a) not fast and/or b) trying to figure out where the ball is going. A solid throw is not hustle: in part, it is arm talent (strength + accuracy), part eye talent (quickly picking up the cutoff man after watching the ball) and in part is practice between games. Diving for the ball is not hustle: it’s instinct that some guys have or don’t. (You never think about diving for the ball: you just do it.)

          Remember, the Cubs basically scored and allowed as many runs last year as expected given their basic numbers and given the performances of other teams. We need to stop worrying about freckles and worry about the bloody melanoma.

          • Drew

            I agree with your analogy of “freckles on a patient with skin cancer” and the fact that this is something not worthly of being at the top of our list of concerns. The only reason I’m discussing it is because its the subject of the article.

            I will, however, respectfully disagree with what you are including in the definition of “hustle”.

            For one, I have to think that most major league players have the traits you mentioned above (arm talent, eye talent, the instict to dive) because thats part of what makes them a player in the MLB in the first place. It is also my belief that certain abilities, such as picking up and tracking a fly ball and getting the ball to your cut-off man, are certainly skills that can be sharpened or even taught by proper coaching.

            As a coach, I have seen players who have all those “talents” you mentioned decide not to utilize them in game situations. To me, that is what defines lack of hustle.

            That being said, I always enjoy hearing or reading about the point of view of others on subjects like this, and have grown to value your opinion on several issues.

            • MichiganGoat

              Nice exchange, good to hear quality conversation on such a vague concept.

              • DannyBallgame

                Quite impressed by the commentary myself. Hopefully fundamentals will be stressed as much as hustle.

    • Scotti

      Did those same players see Soriano hustling for a ball in CF on a cold April day his first year as a Cub that led to a hamstring injury that caused him to miss dozens of games that year? Did they see him hustling in LF the next year when he slid into the left field (brick) wall? That injury caused him to miss even more games, needed season ending surgery, lingered for years AND robbed him of his explosive speed.

      Those two “hustle” injuries cost him nearly all of the 125 games that he missed his first three seasons (either directly or indirectly)–over 40 games per year–and half of his “game.” Before those injuries Soriano was known to beat out anything close in the infield and widely considered a “hustle” player. He took extra bases, stole bases with a very good SB% and was habitually among the leaders in scored runs.

      Soriano has his faults as a player. Despite reportedly working hard on defense he has never been good at defense outside of a good arm. His 6% walk rate is lower than a guy with a career .506 SLG% should posses. But hard work is not something that he has lacked–on the field or off. He has always lacked defensive talent. He now lacks speed. Does he look at a HR or long fly ball? Yes, so did Dawson. As a Cub, no one ever knocked Dawson for lack of effort even though he left the batter’s box in p h a s e s. Does Soriano dive for balls? No, and neither did Ryne Sandberg and Cub fans didn’t care. Why? Because Sandberg, and Dawson as well, had endeared themselves to Cub fans with years of stellar play offensively. They didn’t have to get themselves dirty to prove that they worked hard.

      Do I appreciate “hustle?” Do I believe that “hustle” makes a difference in W-L records. Yes, and Yes. But I also believe that players get pegged with reputations (see how long it takes Castro to get over a potentially unfounded claim of rape). Cub fans needed a scapegoat for some dismal seasons and Soriano was the guy. It doesn’t matter that Soriano had a track record of playing hard and has obviously played hurt for us. We didn’t win so we need a scapegoat. Throw our sins on Soriano and we are absolved for another year.

  • CubFan Paul

    does “hustling” raise your BABIP?

    • JR Cubs

      Who cares, no one is saying it will make his stats better. It may help change the mentatity of the team. It sure as hell wouldn’t hurt anything.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Yes. It also increases the amount of errors that the defense commits.

      • Brian

        For all of you stat freaks, that say the numbers are what is true. What does the hustle stat say for how many runs, hits, ect. hustle does improve on? All I see is stats “words” on how hustle is deterimental!

        • TWC

          It depends on how you calculate the “hustle average”.

          • Brian

            Is there a calculation for hustle?

            • DocWimsey

              Eye / beholder = Hustle.

              • MichiganGoat

                There is a multiplier for having chemistry.

                • DocWimsey

                  Given baseball history, I’d make toxic chemistry (as on the 1970’s As or Yankees, the 1980’s Cards or Mets, etc.) a bonus!

            • MichiganGoat

              I’m still trying to calculate the scrappy factor, but I’m certain they arr related. Something like SLG% – (looking at fly balls + amount trotted + times hit ground ball but didn’t touch 1B) is a start.

              • DannyBallgame

                Regular Bill James over here

            • Luke

              I could probably concoct a cross-time indicator by evaluating certain stats against their means, but I would have to have some clear non-hustle metrics for that same player as a control.  That approach assumes that the amount of effort is consciously variable, though, and I’m not sure that’s a valid assumption.

              If I had to come up with something, I’d probably compile a player’s UZR numbers in games in which his team is way ahead or way behind, is mathematically eliminated from all playoff contention, and is not playing against a known rival.  I’d then calculate the difference between those UZR numbers and his mean UZR for that season.  I’d then compile the UZR numbers for games in which his team is playing a known rival or is in a pennant chase, calculate the difference from the mean in those seasons, and compare difference to my first calculation.

              And in doing so, I’d be ignoring so many factors that my uncertainty would likely dwarf whatever results I came up with and make the whole exercise pointless.  But I’d get to spend a couple of days playing with numbers and studying box scores, and that’s always kind of fun.

    • DocWimsey

      No. There is some correlation with speed (which is not hustle: fast guys are fast without trying), but it shows up only over multiple seasons. Slugging and Luck are the biggest factors: the rate of doubles & triples combined is usually pretty steady for players (slugging), whereas the rate of singles fluctuates wildly from one year to the next (luck).

      However, this is another reason why BA Given Contact (i.e., including homers) is much more relevant for batters than BABiP.

      Error rates per batter do not show any particular correlations last I looked, probably due to how rare errors are. (Getting data on the number of errors committed on a batter is tough, though: I last looked 3 or 4 years ago because of that!) Now, there was a *negative* correlation for whole teams back in the 1980s: but that was because the “speed teams” played on astroturf and there were fewer errors in astroturf parks!

  • al

    When a reporter asked Pete Rose what motivated him to hustle out each and every play, his one word answer was, “Pride.”

  • Eric

    Does anyone else think Sori would be better if he just used a smaller bat?

    • JR Cubs

      Yeah doesn’t he use one the biggest bats in mlb?? I would love to see his results with a smaller bat over the course of a couple months. You would think it would help his bat speed a lot over the course of a long season.

      • hansman1982

        Is he consistently hitting balls down the RF line or weak grounders to 1st? Are fastballs blowing him by? I know the answer to the last one is no because that is about all he can hit now.

    • ferrets_bueller

      At this age, I’d have to agree.

    • butlerdawgs

      That could have an adverse effect though. If he’s comfortable with the bat he’s swinging and he’s been swinging it throughout his career, changing it up could cause a lot of adjustments. He’s still getting the bat on the ball (when it’s not a low and away slider). I say if it’s the bat he wants to use, then he should use it. He knows his body more than anybody else.

      • CubFan Paul

        I believe (i saw every game) Soriano hit a good % of those low & away sliders in the 2nd half of 2011. Hopefully it carries over

      • Brian

        Has he already changed his swing to compensate for the bat speed slowing down as his age increases? Maybe a lower weight, not necc. shorter bat, would help adjust on that low off the plate 3′ swing and miss slider.

        • hansman1982

          no that is pitch selection which means he isn’t picking up something in the ball as it comes to him that tells him is a slider.

          • Brian

            That would be first thought, but what if it has something to do with his timing mech. that a lighter bat could fix.

  • Jeff Wise

    I’ve never been a big fan of players who don’t hustle. I played baseball for 14 years and most of the time the players who don’t hustle aren’t really into the game. You’ve got to want more than a paycheck.

  • cubchymyst

    Been reading the site for a while because I enjoy the writing and conversations and I feel the need to jump into the conversation.

    I know people have said Soriano and Ramirez have had injuries and that is why they looked slowed down last year, but their is no reason not to hustle when your being played to play a sport. In recreational leagues I’ve played in I’ve seen people in their 40s and 50s dive and make hustle plays. Even when people are slowed down you can tell when they are making an effort. As far as i’m concerned players in their 20’s and 30’s who are paid to stay in shape should be hustling on every play.

    • Seth

      +1 on this comment. Completely agree.

    • JR Cubs

      Completely agree Cubschymyst. But there are a lot of people on this site that think playing hard is rediculous /not important, and it’s all about sabermetrics. So I am sure you’ll have some disagree..

      • TWC

        “…people on this site that think playing hard is rediculous /not important…”

        Do you desire the players to look like they’re playing hard, or do you want them to play hard.  Those are different things.

        • JR Cubs

          Obviously I want them to play hard. But I do think there is value in showing you’re not afraid to play hard on the field too. I’m not saying be over the top, swinging your arms and legs like a manicac… I am just stating that IMO I think there are times when certain players could put a bit more into their game on the field.

        • cubchymyst

          The thing with playing hard and looking like they are playing hard is something I have never really understood. Every player has some sort of limit to the range they can cover or speed they can run. When people are near the limit of that range, the hustle is diving to try to get to it versus letting to go by or bounce. Jogging after a ball versus running after a ball. You can usually tell the different between a jogger and a runner. Obviously there is a limit to every players ability and that is where the sabermetrics come it with a lot of good information. I am all for sabermetrics and you take the guy with better range with less hustle over the guy with poor range and good hustle every time. Its just easier to root for the guy who hustles more.

      • Luke

        I’m not aware of a single statistical argument against playing hard, and I can make several that point in favor of it.

        On the other hand, I also can’t think of a single argument favoring guys who play hard and are still really bad.  For example, Babe Ruth is one of the laziest bums ever to set foot on a baseball diamond.  Tony Campana exhibits more hustle than a little league team in an ice cream parlor.  Which guy would you rather have on your fantasy roster?

        • TWC

          Pfft!  Easy.  Babe Ruth’s dead, dude!  Where you been?!

          • DocWimsey

            OK, let’s say that he’s alive and, like, 120 by now. I’m taking The Babe. Actually, even if he’s dead, I’m taking The Babe…….

        • Turn Two

          The Ruth-Campana comparison is obviously invalid. You can pull out matchups like that to prove any point. I can take a scrappy Craig Counsell in his younger days and give you an immensely talented Gordon Beckham and we will see who has the 2nd baseman that gives you a better chance to win. Beckham’s stats may be better at the end of the year, but Counsell’s team will be the one in better shape come playoff time.

    • RoughRiider

      That’s called playing to win the game. If you’re not willing to do the little things then you don’t really care about winning.

  • MichiganGoat


    • hansman1982

      But how do you get hustle? Chemistry is as easy as asking the nearest cat.

  • Richard Nose

    He was the last AB of the season 2 years ago. Of course, Cubs fate had been sealed months before that. But, Soriano gets up there and hacks and 3 consecutive horse shit breakers in the left-handed box. Just shit. Made me wanna cry. I hope he beasts up this year. I’m not a hater, so I do nothing but love him, even if he makes me cry.

  • Teri

    When you are making 19 million and dont hustle, it is a slap in the face to the players making 400,000. I blame the player, but I also blame the coaches who allow a player not to hustle. I hope Sveum at least expects Sori to hustle and benches him if he does not.

    • DocWimsey

      But what is the young player seeing in the weight room and video room? What is he hearing from Sori about what different pitchers throw? What is he hearing from Sori about how to conduct himself off of the field? Baseball players put a lot more emphasis on that.

      • hardtop

        “Baseball players put a lot more emphasis on that.”

        how do you know that?  are you every ball player?  are you even some of them?  did you read it once, twice, or four times?

  • hardtop

    its not starring down a deep fly that has potential to go the distance, that bothers me: its not running out grounders or shallow flys that i hate.  sure, those plays are likely to be turned into an out with some regularity, but the bobble, the bad bounce, the weak grip, the sloppy transfer, or the wide/high throw to first happen all the time.  many times the runner is far enough away that the defense is able to recover from these minor flubs.  but if the first baseman has to jump to make a catch and your stepping on first before he comes back to earth, you just hustled yourself on base.  maybe he still gets you more often than not, but you increase your odds of getting on base (we can argue the significance all day long, i feel its far more significant than the vaguely relevant statistics might suggest).

    also, if the fielder sees you hauling ass down the first baseline he is forced to act under additional pressure,  when people act under additional pressure, they’re more likely to make mistakes, when fielders make mistakes, players get on base, and when players get on base, no one punches them in the face for not hustling… don’t get punched in the face, fonzie, bust your hump to first every time you make contact.

    • TonyP

      Great comment hardtop.  You just summed up my position completely.

  • xavier gunz

    I predict a big year from Sori. As much as many of you dont believe it. I think not only Dale but also new Management will motivate him to change is past ways of being. Hustle Hustle Hustle Sori. Loose the lil jumps, Lay off that slider low and away. Swing that wood hard.

    I also predict a big year from Marmol as long as he stays poised on the mound. No craziness, no wild deliveries. he will have a big year. Go Cubs!!!! Go Rizzo!!! Go Woody!!!! Go Theo!!!!

  • cubsin

    I’ve you got a bad hammy, perhaps it’s okay to jog to first on a ground ball. But I find it hard to believe that ARam and Sori have had bad hammies every day for the past five years,

    • cubchymyst

      Just on a counter side to the argument. People who can’t “hustle” to first because of a bad hammy do you pull them if there replacement is less likely to get on base or drive the ball to allow runners to score? I know Sori is a bad example of this because of his low OBP last year. ARam, however, has been a good hitter and RBI producer for the cubs. Do you let someone slide a little on running if they can get you more at bats as a team and drive in runs on hard hit balls?

  • hansman1982

    If the team wins 60 games then I would like to see them bust their butt in doing so and I don’t care if it is detrimental to their abilities to bust their butt, just looks better. If they win the WS then I don’t care if they stare at home runs until the ump ejects them.

  • ThereWillBeCubs

    Just because “hustle” isn’t quantified, doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. And comparing extremes like Babe Ruth to Tony Campana… are you fucking for real?!

    Who wants somebody on their team who isn’t trying? Someone with talent who doesn’t try would probably be even better if they did.

    I think the real issue here is baseball IQ. Not legging out what seems to be a deep fly may be a hard habit to break, but if it even gets you just 1 (ONE!) extra base all year long… then I think it’s gotta be worth it.

    Hustling on defense doesn’t necessarily lead to errors. Rushing throws may lead to errors. Diving may lead to injuries. But playing intelligently, however vague ad description, only makes the team better.

    • Pat

      Is getting one extra base a year worth it if you blow out a quad one of the other times you “hustled”?

      • ThereWillBeCubs

        Why even step onto the field at all?

  • Steve

    Maybe…he needs glasses like Rick Vaughn….?

  • art

    problem is he (Soriano) stands there on every fly ball as well as not running out many ground balls. will Dale say that’s just a habit or flat out lazy?

    a pro should run hard on everyball, every deep fly is not always a HR. IMO.

  • Butch Cub

    Very insightful article Brett. Once a player receives a certain label, it’s difficult to overcome. I could accept Soriano’s average numbers and large contract if I saw more dirt on his uniform. Of course, his lack of plate discipline & ability to disappear for weeks at a time have nothing to do with hustle. If Sveum can somehow motivate Soriano to change his style of play, and therefore change fan’s perception of him, I say he’s manager of the year. If Soriano is indeed one of the hardest workers off the field, perhaps he should rest more – because he looks quite tired game day!

  • MichCubFan

    I really don’t care that much about the watching the homerun thing. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Soriano doesn’t run 100% because of leg problems…just being a little banged up or what not.

    The thing that bothers me is his unwillingness to improve in his weak areas.

    He needs to continue to work on his defense, but more importantly become a better hitter. Of course he doesn’t have the same power or speed that he used to have and he can’t really help that…he is aging. But for him to improve his approach would be by far the most beneficial thing he could do for the team…i would also like to see him use a lighter bat.

    If he could make more contact, lay off of bad pitches, swing at good pitches, and take more walks he would be much more valuable for our offense and probably hit more HRs as well. But with his long crouched swing and heavy bat he has to start his swing sooner which means he can’t see the ball as long or make a decision quick enough to swing or lay off of certain pitches. He also likes to try and yank it to left field which also leaves him open for a lot of swings and misses…especially on low and outside putches.

    More contact and a more up the middle approach coupled with the power that he still does have should mean an improved Avg, OBP, HRs, and would make him a much valuable hitter.

  • OlderStyle

    Sounds like Soriano needs a better PR man, not manager.

  • Matt

    The thing about hustle is that it shows up in other parts of the game. A player who is more willing to hustle is usually also a more focused player, a player who keeps their head up while in the game more. With hustle players you still see errors, like you do with all other players, but they’re also less frequent unless that other part that I mentioned a bit ago there doesn’t follow (see Ryan Theriot, he hustled, but he couldn’t focus to save his life, which is what caused all his baserunning errors).

  • SouthernCub

    “Sveum knows Soriano’s reputation well. But he pointed out that Soriano is not the only modern-day player who likes to watch what he believes is a home run.” UMMMMMMMMM CAN SOMEONE SAY RYAN BRAUN???!??!?!??!?!?!!!??!?!?!?!?!

  • TeddyBallGame

    Dear Soriano,
    Quit smiling and waving at the damn fans when you’re in the batters box before EVERY damn at bat. Get your head in the game for starters and we’ll see what happens from there..

  • MichiganGoat

    Reading all this debate over hustle gets me thinking about how fans have different definitions for unquantifiable words. For some people hustle means diving for balls, others is about running full force after all contact, some see it a level of excitement. What we value on a term like hustle changes our measurement of who is and is not hustle. I’m not a big believer that hustle or chemistry really impact the game, I prefer to value the quantifiable metrics that are easily comparable (like SLG, OBP) but understand why everyone wants players to play 100% every second of every game, but I’m not worried about how much hustle Soriano shows as I want a player who avoid chasing sliders and hit for contact with RISP.

    • Drew

      agreed. I think it may have something to do with what type of exposure youve had to the game. Those who not only played at various levels, but played at a high level all the time may have different views than those who have always viewed the game through the eyes of a front-office type person (including those who play/played as well as those who didnt). While I feel I hold the beliefs associated with the former, I certainly understand the arguements from the latter.

    • DocWimsey

      That is part of why I don’t like it: hustle is (in my opinion) a very subjective and pejorative term. I think that it is just tainted too heavily by how much we see ourselves in individual ballplayers.

      More importantly, I think that it’s a distraction from the team’s real problems. Sori’s propensity to chase sliders is one of the team’s problems! If he was standing at home plate watching balls sail towards the fence a lot more, then I’d actually be a lot happier, and it would be a much bigger step towards getting the Cubs to outscore the opposition game-in and game-out.

      • die hard

        Soriano should respond to challenge as he knows hes on a short leash and he has a lot of pride. If they rest him more then he will have a better season. He still has those Ernie Banks’ wrists which can turn around a fastball as good as anyone. Limiting him to 3-4 games a week may work.

    • Dave H

      I can understand that MG. What I would like to see is better “readiness”. I’ve taught several years in many different sports at progressing ages that you have to be ready on every play and expect it (ball or action) to come your way. “Hustle” becomes more of “not giving up on a play” even if it isn’t at you. Anything can happen and you have to prepare yourself for as much as possible. I understand most people fall in love with sabermetrics but sometimes there are categories that can’t be stuck in a computer and easily be given to you in black and white. That area is what makes this sport great.

  • Jon

    To me hustling should be a fundamental part of the game. If your busting it down the line, you’re a bobbled ball from a base hit. Going first to third, or cutting a ball off in the gap to save extra bases. Hustling can save you a few runs and can create a few for you. It drives me nuts to see players jogging or watching fly balls. Doubles, or possible triples turned into long singles… Those are RBI opportunities taken away because of a lack of effort. Id much rather have a RISP or one on one out instead of two away. When you’re getting paid to play a game for a living you should do it 100%.

  • Kyle

    Normally I’d say that the risk of injury to a good player isn’t worth the two or three times a year they get to first base that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

    But in Soriano’s case, I’m no longer convinced he’s our best option for LF, so hustle away. Maybe he’ll blow a knee and we’ll get Sappelt out there.

    • die hard

      If that happens isnt the team insured against the balance of his contract if he has to retire due to injury? If so, maybe putting him into situations where he has to hustle may not be a bad idea from a financial standpoint.

  • Turn Two

    I love how so many make fun of “scrappy” and “hustle” and then turn around and demand Soriano leave because he does not do those things. Either it matters or it doesn’t. I am not sure its so much scrappy as it is a high baseball i.q. that people are demanding. Hustle should be demanded of all, but to measure scrappiness these discussions are absurd. A scrappy player has a high baseball i.q. and has made it to the professional level more for that “baseball awareness” than for any great physical talent. Sometimes it manifests itself in good stats and sometimes it doesn’t, however it does lead to wins. The Braves and Twins would be example of teams that teach scrappy. Even though you can not measure it in stats it is real. Therein lies the entire value in a Darwin Barney. He is scrappy. Now go ahead and tear this post apart for its love of scrappy.

    • Brett

      High baseball IQ makes a player better. No doubt.

  • JR Cubs

    I am just shocked more Cubs fans aren’t upset with the way some of the higher paid players handled themselves on the field the last couple years.
    I think you obviously have to be smart and not pull your hamstring and “blow a quad” constantly while hustling. But there is a right way to play the game and clearly Sori and ARam aren’t even close to playing it the right way.
    Yeah it would be great if Sori could learn to get on base better than a .280 clip, and not swing at low and away breaking pitches. But his lack of playing hard is unexcusable IMO.