For anyone who follows the NBA, and even for those who don’t, Jeremy Lin is suddenly a household name. His breakout performance in his first four games as a New York Knicks starter are well documented by now. He burst onto the scene almost out of nowhere. He was a player on the verge of being cut and had little value in the organization. Sound familiar? It should because we saw a similar phenomenon with Jesus Guzman last season.
Of course, it’s not a perfect parallel. Guzman got a limited shot with San Francisco before coming to the Padres. Also, baseball stats don’t lend themselves to analysis in small samples as much as basketball stats do. In basketball you take so many shots per game, you have so many opportunities, you can start to draw conclusions about a player after a couple of games. The same is not true in baseball. In baseball a player who walks in each of his first four games may only have twelve official at-bats. Numbers skew drastically in that few at-bats.
However, Guzman sustained his success long enough to draw some conclusions from his sample size. Like Lin, he was never truly given a shot for one reason or another. However, when provided the consistent playing time he seized the opportunity. Had Guzman done the same thing for the Yankees last season, the baseball world would have been on fire with talk about his breakout performance. I don’t think there’s any doubt New York City magnifies success and failure. For Guzman, he was able to quietly go about his business in San Diego with relative obscurity.
Now, the Jeremy Lin tag will be shed and Guzman must prove he can perform over the course of the season.
Soon, the same will be true of Lin. But they both have a quality that makes watching them exciting. Rooting for the underdog is something we always enjoy. Whether is be for a few games or over the course of the season, we wish for these types of players. We love seeing breakout stars. Guzman has a chance to carry his success into the 2012 season and solidify himself as a true star on with Padres.
In his first five games, Jeremy Lin has scored 131 points. That comes to an average of 26.2 points per game. Last night, he hit the game winning shot with virtually no time left. It’s easier to look at that and gush. Jesus Guzman, in his first five games as a starter with the Padres last season, went 6 for 22 for a .272 batting average. It was not a spectacular line, but on a team with very limited offensive capabilities, it was exciting. He finished the year hitting .312/.369/.478, by far the Padres offensive leader during that time.
Much like Lin, there have been things always holding Guzman back. His inability to play sound defense has been the main problem. Teams have always been afraid to give him real playing time because his defense just ins’t there. In fact, during those five games references above, he was a designated hitter during inter league
play in three of them. The interesting thing about Guzman’s defense last season (in a platoon role for the most part no less) was that he managed a positive dWAR according to Baseball-Reference. He was worth 0.1 defensive wins. But the perception is he just can’t play defense.
The Padres have shown patience and a willingness to commit to Guzman the Giants never did. Guzman has rewarded them for it so far. The Knicks have shown patience with Lin and he too has rewarded them. Linsanity has taken over the NBA. If Guzman can get consistent playing time in 2012 and continue to perform, maybe we can start Guzmania in San Diego.