The Problem with Brett Lawrie

By | October 9, 2012

Brett Lawrie is many things…a baseball player, a Canadian, a Red Bull connoisseur, and an extreme purveyor of the mindset many call #Want. The Merriam-Webster English Dictionary defines want as “to desire to come, go, or be”. However in the baseball sense Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus defines #want as “the manifestation of human desire and physical yield; when the yearning for perfection becomes visible to the naked eye.”

In Brett Lawrie’s specific case he may not always attempt to achieve this pristine state of mind in the most eloquent of ways, but the fact that he is trying (and he is always trying) to achieve #want is what sets him apart from the rest.

Throughout the 2012 season one could have viewed the many examples of Brett Lawrie’s #want. On a nightly basis he puts his body on the line doing whatever he deems necessary to help his team win. Whether it means running over a catcher at home plate or making a diving catch near (or over) the wall Brett Lawrie will do it all.

During Wednesday’s baseball affair between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees Brett Lawrie’s #want was at its full capacity. This time it was a pop-up off the bat of Mark Texeira. The ball rose up in the air flying above third base and towards the stands. Brett Lawrie, poised to make an attempt to catch the ball, was standing by the fence in position. The ball appeared to fly a bit out of Brett Lawrie’s reach, but Lawrie made an attempt anyway. The following the video is the result of that attempt.

As you may be able to see in the video it looked like Brett was pretty shaken up after the play, yet still he made an attempt to walk off the field on his own. This play became a play of much controversy in the land of Twitter with some arguing that it was a stupid play with a ball that Lawrie should have never gone after, while others argued that the play represented Brett Lawrie’s heart and hustle (see what I did there?) and his willingness to do anything to get that ball.

My personal opinion on the matter strays much closer to the former in that I thought what Brett Lawrie did was pretty stupid. Some argued that he may not have known that their was a pit of doom looming on the other side of that fence, but the larger point is that he should have known and if he did know he shouldn’t have jumped…its not worth it.

To quote a sign seen frequently at the Ski hills (emphasis on hills) in Ontario, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Either Brett didn’t follow the eternal law of safety or his #want overrode the part of the brain that strives for safety and survival.

#Want or the manifestation of human desire with the objective of helping your team win is a trait that you want your players to have. However when there is too much #want injury becomes a very realistic possibility as we saw with Mr. Lawrie. Those two paths at one point come to a crossroads one where there is perfect balance as seen below.

As you can see from the very professional graph above there is a single line that represents the split between the amount of probability that a players adds to his team’s chances of winning and the risk of possible injuries that occurs from hustling. The line that runs down the middle of the graph is the #Want equilibrium and as shown Brett Lawrie has strayed further from the equilibrium than you would like.

Of course the graph is used in jest as there is no real calculation to find a player’s place on the graph above. Despite that the message holds true, with the way in which Brett Lawrie approaches the game he puts himself at an extreme chance of injury.

This time Brett got lucky in that he only ended up day to day. As Stephania Bell mentioned on Thursdays’ Fantasy Focus: Baseball podcast, Lawrie was lucky he didn’t walk away with a major back injury after the tumble he took into the camera pit.

With Lawrie’s style of play this kind of occurrence where there is a major injury scare could become a regular thing. Look at Josh Hamilton for example, he plays in a similar fashion to Lawrie with the “put it all on there like you just don’t care” mentality. Throughout the course of Hamilton’s career his games played each year are as follows 90, 156, 89, 133, and 121 games. That is one year with 150+ games and only three with 100+ games.

Despite getting hate for it Kevin Goldstein might be right when he said…

Guys who play 150+ games a year know when to let that ball go.

— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) July 18, 2012

Goldstein’s reasoning is the reason many people want Lawrie to tone it down, but the problem is it may not be that easy. In Brett Lawrie’s short career an all out style has been a part of his game, it’s part of what makes him who he has. It is easy for any of us to suggest that someone tells Lawrie to tone it down a little, but that is a part of his game and I highly doubt it hasn’t been tried already.

On the other side of things the fact that Lawrie plays an extremist all out style to the game does not give anyone the right to justify it. That means you don’t need to try to tell me or anyone else that what Lawrie did is a good thing because he did all he could to help his team. If Lawrie makes the play then that’s fantastic he’s moved the team one step closer to one win. Though if he gets hurt, which isn’t an insignificant possibility, then he costs the team wins when they end up playing the Assistant Bench Coach Omar Vizquel instead of one of the better players on their team.

It may sound cliché but Brett Lawrie is who he is, he will be both a hero and a villain, he will be both invigorating and frustrating and I doubt anyone will be able to change that anytime soon. That doesn’t mean you have to hate love him or hate him, just accept him for who he is…it isn’t that hard.