This web site right here is where the dorkwads of ballhawking and the geekwads of baseball stats meet and do a Vulcan salute. There's enough nerdiness here to power 10 Strat-O-Matic leagues and a new season of Battlestar Galactica.
And if we didn't know all too well that ballhawking attracts a weird breed of rabidly entrepreneurial, developmentally arrested adults who will trample small children and good manners for something Cliff Floyd just chucked into the stands, it'd be kind of awesome. Oh, hell, I'll say it. It is awesome. There's something sort of sweet about it, too. The ballhawks have themselves a neat community for their peculiar obsession, just like NAMBLA and Catholics
Have a look at that chart, which I think speaks for itself (though I've yet to determine what this "Competition Factor" is). It seems our old friend the Happy Youngster finds himself a distant second, behind one Zack Hample, who is something of a legend in ballhawking quarters. Hample, as you can see, favors a device that I'm guessing is the one described in this New York Times story:
After placing a thick rubber band around his baseball glove, Hample opens the pocket and wedges a Sharpie pen between the webbing and the fingers, creating a makeshift trap. Using a long string, he lowers the glove onto any ball left unattended on the field that is within his reach.
Hample corrals the ball between the webbing and the rubber band, then lifts the glove carefully into his hands.
I'm more impressed with this Erik Jabs fellow, who it says right here has chased down 125 batted balls. Surely that's harder than lowering some MacGyvery contraption onto the field to scoop up the left fielder's leavings, right? The metrics clearly need some work — adjustments for home runs caught on the fly in crowded pitcher-friendly ballparks, say. A predictive statistic would be nice, too, a sort of ballhawk PECOTA. Seriously. This needs to happen. Someone get Nate Silver on the communicator.
H/T reader Zain
Counting Baseballs [MLBlogs]