04/24/11 1:26 PM ET
Fuld enjoys the power of statistics
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
From his cubicle in Aurora, Ill., Fuld would watch games on film and plot every pitch.
"The type, the velocity and the location," Fuld said. "This was before all the computer systems did that for you."
Fuld loved his job.
"We did our jobs, and we were all kind of locked in on our computers," Fuld said. "There wasn't a whole lot of crazy math. It wasn't just baseball. I was doing hockey and football, too. For most people, it was probably monotonous work. But I'm a sports junkie, and I like the numbers side of it all."
After perusing countless statistics and understanding how to evaluate performances through numbers under many different criteria, Fuld feels like defense largely goes unnoticed statistically.
"They're working on it," Fuld said. "[But] I think that's something that they've yet to perfect or even come close to it. ... Who knows if it will ever happen; it's a tricky thing to quantify. To me that's the one thing. They've come so far in measuring offensive performance. But I still think there's a ways to go defensively."
While baseball is probably the hungriest for statistics of all the major team sports, there is not a uniform field. Fuld smiled when asked if he found that fact ironic.
"I never thought about that," Fuld said. "I love that about baseball. Obviously, the diamond's the same, but you have these different dimensions. I love it. Just personally, as an outfielder, it adds a different element to every stadium you go to. There's something different you have to think about. It's the equivalent of going to a Patriots game and the field being 95 yards. It's odd, but I love it."
Fuld noted there is a "ton of stuff" that can't be measured by numbers.
"I'm a big believer in chemistry," Fuld said. "Obviously you can't qualify that. How good of a clubhouse guy he is. What kind of a leader a guy is. So there's always going to be that element. On the field performance, I think numbers paint a pretty accurate picture. Not the entire story, but pretty darn close."
Fuld is fascinated by what the numbers tell him about the concept of clutch hitters.
"Most of the numbers out there show that there's no such thing," Fuld said. "And it's crazy to think that, because I swear I've played with guys who just tend to come through in the clutch. And others that don't.
"But that's the beauty of numbers is that our minds don't necessarily capture the whole picture accurately. Our emotions remember certain things for whatever reason, and there are certain things you don't remember. So I think that's the beauty of numbers. It's fact. There's no way around it."
Damon says respect more valuable than stats
TORONTO -- Johnny Damon is off to a good start with the Rays, despite a small crack at the tip of his left ring finger, an injury that he has been playing through with good results.
Damon went into Sunday's action hitting .246 with four home runs and 17 RBIs, while riding a 12-game hitting streak. And the veteran is moving up the career hits ladder.
After Saturday's game, Damon had 2,588 hits, which puts him at No. 79 on the all-time hits list, three hits behind Luis Gonzalez. Damon was asked about 3,000 career hits and how special reaching that lofty plateau would be.
"There are only a select few [who have reached the mark]," Damon said. "If you look at all the numbers in the history book, a lot of them are scarred. Pete Rose will never make it to the Hall of Fame, [Rafael] Palmeiro. I don't know how they're going to look at our generation. I don't know if they're going to classify the guys who used and the guys who haven't.
"I think I've put myself, being able to play all these years, into a pretty good category -- a guy who hasn't used, a guy who's put up all these numbers, a guy who's stayed healthy, a guy who's won championships. I just think more numbers will definitely help, especially the runs scored. I'm already top-50 in that. Play a couple of more years, I could be top 20, and that's what actually wins you games."
Would reaching 3,000 hits make Damon a Hall of Famer?
"Hopefully," he said. "I was never selfish enough coming up to look at those numbers. Maybe my batting average would be better if I bunted guys over more, but you never think about it. You just think about what your teammates think of you, and you go out and play. That's the respect any player would want."
Maddon still not ready to anoint Farnsworth
Kyle Farnsworth picked up the save in Saturday's 6-4 Rays win over the Blue Jays. The veteran right-hander has now earned a save in each of his five save opportunities.
Rays manager Joe Maddon is happy with Farnsworth's performance, but he still will not officially anoint him as the team's closer.
Farnsworth seems indifferent about whether or not he's recognized as the team's closer.
"I'm just trying to go out there and take it as any other inning," Farnsworth said. "Try to make good quality pitches. Just be aggressive, and just go out there and have fun. Try not to look at it any other way."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.