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April 10, 2013
Science Confirms The Good Face
One of the most controversial scouting practices is the use of The Good Face. Ken Funck once wrote about The Good Face in these very pages:
Now comes word out of London that The Good Face might just be real. More block quotes:
This isn't the first time that science has found a link between face and athletic performance. A study of NFL starting quarterbacks, for instance, found that every single one of them had a much more symmetrical face (a common proxy for handsomeness) than the general population. There's a cause/effect problem there, as it could be that handsome athletes are chosen to lead their teams at an early age; or that teammates prefer to be led by handsome athletes, whether or not those handsome athletes throw the ball farther. But regardless, that study also suggests that The Good Face could be real. Funck, in that piece linked above, suggested The Good Face might correlate to a different approach at the plate.
Now that The Good Face has been validated by science, let's scout some faces. All faces are from a Wiki Commons search for "face."
Scouting report: Right-handed pitcher with three-quarters release and plus fastball in the mid-90s. Secondaries slow to develop, durability an issue, max-effort. Long face. Not enough Good Face to start, but has the stuff, if not yet the control, for late-innings relief work. Probably went to Coachella back when it was still pretty small, relatively speaking, and you didn't have to sell your car to buy tickets.
Scouting report: Lightning-quick hands, good power for his size, could hit 25+ home runs at highest level. Doesn't have the arm for the left side of the infield, but should stick at second base. Future hitting instructor. Good observer. Probably rides his bike to the ballpark. Good Face. Good Tan Face.
Scouting reports, from left to right: 1. Good Face, solid hit tool, plus power, but could be a base clogger. 2. Good face, left-handed reliever, plus slider, deceptive. 3. Good face, no. 2 starter, big durable body. 4. Bad face, pinch-hitter.
Scouting report: Bad face. Too passive at the plate, will be exploited in higher levels. Nice guy, good teammate, lousy player.
Conclusion: It's worth pointing out that a lot of published scientific findings can't be replicated. Interesting findings, like this one, get published and picked up by news outlets, like this one, before they've stood the test of replication. One last block quote:
So while it's interesting that there might be reason to believe in The Good Face, it's likely to remain controversial for some time still.