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March 3, 2011

BP Unfiltered

The Undecider

by Christina Kahrl

One of my many nerdy qualities is that I'm always fascinated with players who show up and hang around... but who don't always get documented as fully as some of their more famous teammates. Maybe it was my initial fascination with the Denver Nuggets in the early '80s, because you'd have Alex English and Dan Issel and Kiki Vandeweghe bombing away all night long, and a series of point guards getting rotated in and out, trying to keep up, and then you'd have T.R. Dunn, accumulating... nothing. Not literally, of course, but he started, and he'd log his minutes, but he'd score six or seven points, pull down a half-dozen rebounds, a couple of steals... and that was it. He wasn't getting DNPs, mind you, but in the high-flying Nuggets attack, Dunn just seemed to be there.

It didn't take me that long to realize that what Dunn did was impact the other guy's shooters, and that his virtues, while not all that visible among those "back of the card" stats, were appreciable.

Which is the long way around saying that when I stumbled across the fact that Randy Flores had generated just 16 career decisions in today's TA, that felt significant, and in a way that made me feel for the lot of unloved LOOGY when it comes to the statistical shadows they cast. After all, no wins, no losses, few shots at a save... what's a guy supposed to tell his kids and show off? Holds? ARP? "I could nuke Ryan Church three times a week."

It also got me wondering about how significant Flores' decision tally was, so I did what I usually do in these situations--I pester a member of the Tech team, and this time around, Rob McQuown. Thanks to him, we can now bask in the irrelevance of the knowledge that not only is Flores' decision rate low, it's historic. Using 100 career games as our initial threshold, Rob came back with this:

Dude
W
L
Decisions
G
Dec/G%
Kevin Wickander 5 1 6 150 4.00%
Vince Horsman 4 2 6 141 4.26%
Mike Gallo 4 3 7 160 4.38%
Randy Flores 11 5 16 350 4.57%
Brian Shouse 13 10 23 467 4.93%
Jeff Wallace 3 3 6 119 5.04%
Tony Sipp 4 2 6 116 5.17%
Trever Miller 18 16 34 646 5.26%
Tom Martin 11 9 20 376 5.32%
Jose Mijares 3 4 7 128 5.47%

Golly, guess what all of these guys have in common? I admit, I had to check Jeff Wallace to be sure, having forgotten his brief existence on the Pirates' roster in 1999-2000 before finishing with the Rays. But c'mon, the guy had six decisions in a short career, surely you can forgive me? Grrrr. I hate forgetting about someone. Kevin Wickander was one of the Indians most affected by the 1993 spring training boating accident that claimed the lives of Tim Crews and Steve Olin; Olin had been his best man, and the loss affected him enough that the Tribe mercifully dealt him to Cincinnati to try and help him escape the loss. Horsman was the scruffy southpaw from Nova Scotia who Tony La Russa used to good effect in the early '90s, towards the end of his days with the A's.

And so on, but it's a bunch of lefties. The most undecided right-hander, as it were, isn't one guy, it's a virtual tie between soft-tosser Joe Nelson (5.73 percent) and Daniel Bard (5.74 percent), in that Bard's next game without a decision would put him ahead of Nelson.

So, how is it that Flores is historic? Well, raise your threshhold to a full season's worth of games, and he instantly becomes the all-time undecider--let's not hold my initial low standards against the guy. Of course, we can kick that can to even greater heights, and crown Shouse, or Miller. Take it all the way past a thousand career appearances, and you can congratulate Mike Stanton for his ability to show up, do a job, and cast a small shadow, with an 11.12 percent career rate. Naturally, in accepting his prize he'll be shaking from the left, but you knew that.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Future Shock: Organiza... (03/02)
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