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Players are Human: Pitcher John C. Odom Dies

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Have you seen this horrible story about the death of minor league pitcher John C. Odom? This has gotten me thinking this morning about makeup and player psychology.

i've written about makeup before.  We have made incredible strides in objective, statistical, sabermetric analysis over the last 30 years. To be honest, the math has improved enough that I can't always follow it (there is a reason I was a history and philosophy student). Sometimes I wonder if we're just inventing new and more complicated ways to express the same basic truths about baseball, and that at some point we will reach a moment of diminishing returns with the numbers. We aren't yet there, especially when it comes to fielding, but it will happen eventually.

So what is the next frontier in baseball analysis? I think it is getting inside the mind of the player. Which brings us back to the death of John Odom. I doubt we'll ever get the complete story of what happened here, but it serves as a reminder that players are not mere number generators. They are human beings, and there are certain things we will never be able to quantify.  

Baseball teams are of course super-aware of personality issues. Many teams use standardized tests, and a good scout will do everything he can to learn about a player's background and personality. But even so. . .is there something we are missing here?

I've occasionally joked about Jungian Baseball Analysis being the next frontier in this area. More on this issue coming up. . .I'm still trying to organize my thoughts about how all this can be integrated.