The Braves haven’t played the smartest baseball of late, with the recent mental and physical miscues of shortstop Yunel Escobar being prime examples of that. But how does the team really rank in overall intelligence?
Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, dead last.
The Journal — apparently taking a break from stock market analysis and fluctuating values of the Euro and the Yen — did an academic analysis of major league baseball rosters. A reporter checked how many players on each team attended a university, whether that was a “top 15″ university (according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings), whether they graduated and whether they currently start. Each was assigned a point value.
Guess what’s coming?
The Braves’ finished with four points. Unfortunately, the WSJ did not grade on a class curve. The next closest team from the bottom was Texas with 12 points.
The team deemed the smartest was Oakland (32 points). But I’m guessing just showing up at the stadium with text books and a copy of the periodic table is not going to help the A’s get out of last place in the American League West.
Although it wasn’t included in the story, the Braves finished last among National League East teams, well behind Washington (23 points), Philadelphia (21), New York (20) and Florida (14).
OK. So, the Nationals are the smartest team in the division, but they have the worst record in baseball (16-45)? That pretty much blows the validity of this study out of the water right there, doesn’t it?
However, it’s worth noting that the American League East, considered by most to be baseball’s best division, also is the “smartest,” according to cumulative point total. Boston (31), Tampa Bay (31), Toronto (30), Baltimore (29) and the New York Yankees (22) also scored well.
In the Braves’ defense, the team has a history of drafting a lot of high school players. Also, the study graded only players who have appeared in a game this season (as of June 1). So it did not include pitcher Tim Hudson (Auburn), who is on the disabled list. It also does not include players who attended only community college (Mike Gonzalez, Brandon Jones).
But still — 4 points? (Check out a photo gallery of Braves with college credit.)
UPDATE: When our Carroll Rogers told Hudson of the story, the Braves’ pitcher, who used to pitch for the “smarter” A’s, cracked: “I knew over the years I’ve gotten dumber. Now I know why. I’m surrounded by a bunch of morons.”
Pretty quick for an Auburn guy.
He then added (seriously): “Well you figure the Braves are known for drafting high school talent, that’s probably a big reason why. Oakland’s Billy [Beane] is more of a big draft college kids guy. For them they draft college kids and it means they can get them to the big leagues quicker. With Atlanta, they’d rather develop them in the minor leagues for four years than getting a college player. That has a lot to do with it.”
The breakdown follows. There will be a test later.
Following are the major league teams that the Wall Street Journal considers the smartest and dumbest — at least, according to its own arbitrary point system. Teams were awarded points for every player on the roster with a college degree or college experience. The WSJ said point values were weighted, depending on whether the player attended an “elite school” and if the player is a starter. The WSJ said managers also were included in the formula. We’ve also added the current standing of the top and bottom teams, just to see if there is any correlation. Draw your own conclusion. (Mine: No.)
TOP OF THE CLASS Record
A’s 32 27-35 (.435)
Rays 31 34-31 (.523)
Diamondbacks 31 27-37 (.422)
Red Sox 31 38-25 (.603)
Blue Jays 30 34-31 (.523)
BOTTOM OF THE CLASS
Braves 4 30-32 (.484)
Rangers 12 35-27 (.565)
Reds 13 31-31 (.500)
Marlins 14 32-33 (.492)
Angels 15 33-29 (.532)
Royals 15 28-34 (.452)