For better or worse, Rob Neyer—who, for better, has joined SB Nation—is the reason I'm writing about the St. Louis Cardinals today; the reason I've been a stathead for almost 10 years; and the reason I remained a Ray Lankford fan to the bitter end. Story time: I've always been a fan of players I suspected might be underrated, and on the old Cardinals message boards no player was more seriously underrated than Ray Lankford. He struck out too much, and was therefore not clutch; he was less lovable than a Brian Jordan, let alone a Joe McEwing.â†µ
But when he was being run out of town I just knew, without being able to explain why, that he wasn't being given a fair shake. His batting average was low, but—and I didn't have anything to go after that but. A few days passed like that, but somehow, still a casual baseball fan at the time, I ended up on a column from Rob Neyer about Ray Lankford's surprisingly high OPS. From there I felt determined to learn what OPS was—if it could be used to defend Ray Lankford, I was all in. That accidental encounter engendered a love of baseball that just wouldn't have existed without the serious analysis Rob Neyer's always attempted to foster in even the least serious people.
Sabermetrics are mainstream now, and I've been telling people what OPS stands for more than nine years since then. We owe the environment in which we blog today to Rob Neyer, and I'm glad to see him on board. If nothing else, it means I don't have to sit through autoplay basketball highlights to get to his column.