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Know your baseball tropes

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Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the great Timekillers of the internet era is the website TVTropes.org. (WARNING: do not click on that and go there unless you have several hours to waste. You will get sucked in and by the time you emerge it will be 2019 and your spouse may have divorced you).

What is a "Trope"?

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means "stereotyped and trite." In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them. . .Tropes transcend television. They reflect life. Since a lot of art, especially the popular arts, does its best to reflect life, tropes are likely to show up everywhere.

Okay, that's neat, but what does it have to do with baseball?

One of the ideas I like to work with is the concept that baseball players are narratives. Huh? Well, think about it. . .your own life is a narrative, a story, is it not? It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There are plot twists and turns and surprises good and bad and you never quite know how it will end, though at some point you can make some educated guesses. The same would hold true for baseball players, both their lives off the field as well as on it.

In a way, what we do as baseball prospectors is attempt, based on the objective and subjective evidence that we currently have about a player and the history of similar players, to project what as player will do in the future, in other words what his story is going to look like. And as with any other narrative, there are certain common tropes that we will see over and over again.

With this in mind, let's come up with some common baseball player tropes. Keep in mind that there can be overlap here and most players will embody more than one trope.

The Natural: the player who from an early age is so much better than his competition that he seems like he was struck by baseball lightning. Current examples: Bryce Harper.

The Natural with Feet of Clay: Someone who is a Natural, but who is brought low by their own human weaknesses that have little or nothing to do with baseball. Example: Josh Hamilton. Kirby Puckett.

The Grumpy Superstar: Ted Williams? Bob Feller?

All-American but Too Good to be True: Steve Garvey?

The Scrappy Second Baseman: Billions of these around. Name some.

OTHER COMMON BASEBALL TROPES:

Soft-tossing Southpaw Starter
LOOGY
Toolsy outfielder who can't control the strike zone

See how it works?

So let's make a list of baseball player tropes. I'd like to come up with a list and maintain it as part of Minor League Ball.