Ken Rosenthal has a story on Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius wowing his new teammates with his defensive prowess, which is especially impressive considering they've had a pylon at short for the last two decades. But the real gold comes from Alex Rodriguez, who gives his impressions of Gregorius in pure scouting language.
"He has a rare combination of speed and explosiveness. But what you don't see is an incredibly strong arm that is so accurate. That combination is lethal," Rodriguez said.
"What you see in a lot of young players are 6 or 7 arms, but then their accuracy is 3 or 4. Which is normal, par for the course. As they get older, they go from a 7-1/2 arm to about a 5-1/2 or 6-1/2 and their accuracy goes to about 6. But when you have that combination at 25 years old of crazy range, 7-plus arm, 7-plus accuracy ... even Ozzie [Smith], he had 7 accuracy but he didn't have 7 arm strength."
There's more, about how Gregorius's range will affect the Yankees' shifts, and Rodriguez is no doubt relieved to be talking about baseball instead of about himself. But he's also clearly enjoying getting into the weeds on shortstop defense. He's using the traditional 2-8 scouting scale (increasingly being replaced by 20-80 for greater precision), and using it like an old pro—or like someone who'd be very good as a coach or an analyst when his playing career is over.
This shouldn't be a surprise. Much like Barry Bonds (who by every account is one of the most devoted and acute students of hitting you'll find), Rodriguez was, at his peak, pretty close to the perfect ballplayer. That doesn't happen without a combination of athletic ability, incredibly hard work, chemical enhancement, and the bonafide brilliance we get a glimpse of here. There has never been a doubt that Rodriguez has one of the great baseball minds—all the reflexes and PEDs in the world can't produce talent like his without a brain capable of savant-like processing.
Many baseball players don't know how they do what they do, and so can't explain it to others; Rodriguez appears to be the exception. It's just another facet of one of the most fascinating people to ever play this sport. I only wonder if it'll be enough to counteract the many reasons he has for wanting to leave baseball behind completely.