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The Best and Worst Names of the 2013 Baseball Season

Unscientifically predicting which teams will succeed this year, based on the names of the guys on the rosters.

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo / chicago Tribune

Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, doing his best to overcome his unthreatening name.

You’ve probably been reading a lot of predictions about baseball.

We fans crunch numbers all day long and much of the night, and even once our heads hit the pillow, our brains never turn off as the digits rotate in and out of columns until they all finally fade into zeros and our eyes close for the day to reboot. Then we dream of numbers.

This year, I took a break. Instead of number crunching, I decided to name crunch.

Lately you may have noticed an influx of Taylors and Tylers and Joshs in the bigs. These are guys with weenie names that sound like they ought to be hedge-fund managers or playing in boy bands. Whither Honus, Orel, and Oil Can?

Take a look at, say, the Baltimore Orioles. They’ve got a Taylor, a Jason, a Jake, and a Ryan. They’ve also got T.J., J.J., Brian, Matt, Troy, and the rest of the Sigma Chi pledge class. Not sure how Wei-Yin Chen ended up in the club, but don’t be surprised if he’s replaced this season with one of multiple Zachs in Baltimore’s minor league system.

I believe, based on nothing in particular, that the team with the most unusual names on its roster has the best chance to win the World Series. Yes, last year’s World Series champs, the Giants, had a Jeremy, a Madison, and a Chad. Also: a Hunter, a Ryan, and two Brandons. But each of them was canceled out by a Buster, a Joaquin, or a Gregor. In center field, they also had Angel Pagan, which sounds like the name of charismatic yet theistically confused cult leader. That’s a team I can get behind.

Because I am a freak, I entered the first names on every Major League opening-day roster into various sites that tell you how common any given name is. (As a frame of reference, Brandon is the 68th most common name in America; Buster ranks 1,068.) Per my calculations, the average name on the Red Sox roster ranks around the 257th most popular in America. If the average Red Sox player had a name, it would be, roughly, Ian. The Tigers, who fared much better, would be named Ervin.

Yes, this name-crunching may sound ethnically suspect, favoring foreign-born players and playing on icky stereotypes. But it’s not as bad as you’d expect. Miguel is the 150th most common name in America; Cody is 246. And after some fuzzy math that involved a fancy Excel spreadsheet, I was able to extrapolate each average into a win-loss record for the 162-game season.

Below are my projections for the 2013 baseball season, based on what I like to call the Tyler Method. Bet accordingly.

 

A.L. EAST

1st: New York Yankees 98-64

  • Best name: Robinson Cano
  • Worst: Jayson Nix
  • Star Wars-iest: Joba Chamberlain

2nd: Tampa Bay Rays 93-69

  • Best: Fernando Rodney
  • Worst: Kyle Farnsworth
  • Wonderful in a recent off-Broadway production of Peter Pan: Shelley Duncan

3rd: Toronto Blue Jays 80-82

  • Best: Melky Cabrera
  • Worst: Colby Rasmus
  • Scrabble mindfuck: Maicer Izturis

4th: Boston Red Sox 77-85

  • Best: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  • Worst: Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Most likely to ride a Vespa: Felix Doubront

5th: Baltimore Orioles 72-90

  • Best: Nolan Reimold
  • Worst: T.J. McFarland
  • Smarmy lifeguard who slept with your daughter last summer: Taylor Teagarden

 

A.L. CENTRAL

1st: Detroit Tigers 96-66

  • Best: Prince Fielder
  • Worst: Drew Smyly
  • Porniest: Doug Fister

2nd: White Sox 86-76

  • Best: Donnie Veal
  • Worst: Tyler Flowers
  • Can get really good cigars, just give him the word: Dayan Viciedo

3rd: Cleveland Indians 81-81

  • Best: Ubaldo Jimenez
  • Worst: Justin Masterson
  • Should never have done that song with the Matchbox 20 dude: Carlos Santana

4th: Minnesota Twins 72-90

  • Best: Liam Hendriks
  • Worst: (tie) Cole De Vries, Trevor Plouffe
  • Swears he wasn’t named for a Dukes of Hazzard character: Vance Worley

5th: Kansas City Royals 68-94

  • Best: Alcides Escobar
  • Worst: Elliot Johnson
  • Your old financial planner at Merrill Lynch: Wade Davis

 

A.L. WEST

1st: Los Angeles Angels 100-62

  • Best: Hank Conger
  • Worst: Garrett Richards
  • Reliable bar to get a mangotini: J.B. Shuck

2nd: Texas Rangers 89-73

  • Best: Yu Darvish
  • Worst: Tanner Scheppers
  • Kid who never shut up in class: Lance Berkman

3rd: Seattle Mariners 79-83

  • Best: Jesus Montero
  • Worst: Carter Capps
  • Most likely to be blocked by your IP address: Charlie Furbush

4th: Oakland A’s

  • Best: Coco Crisp
  • Worst: Josh Reddick
  • Swings a shovel and a pitchfork in the on-deck circle: Jed Lowrie

5th: Houston Astros 58-104

  • Best: Rhiner Cruz
  • Worst: Justin Maxwell
  • Even pornier than Doug Fister: Brad Peacock

 

N.L. EAST

1st: Washington Nationals 94-68

  • Best: Kurt Suzuki
  • Worst: Chad Tracy
  • You already hate him for no real reason: Bryce Harper

2nd: Atlanta Braves 92-70

  • Best: Andrelton Simmons
  • Worst: Jordan Walden
  • Played sax on a couple of Miles Davis recordings in the ‘70s: Freddie Freeman

3rd: New York Mets 87-75

  • Best: Jordany Valdespin
  • Worst: Collin Cowgill
  • Perennial WWF loser: Anthony Recker

4th: Philadelphia Phillies 73-89

  • Best: Antonio Bastardo
  • Worst: Jeremy Horst
  • American Revolutionariest: Ben Revere

5th: Miami Marlins 68-94

  • Best: Adeiny Hechavarria
  • Worst: Austin Kearns
  • Still sells out though he can’t hit the high notes like he used to: Placido Polanco

 

N.L. CENTRAL

1st: Cincinnati Reds 95-67

  • Best: Homer Bailey
  • Worst: Ryan Ludwick
  • Has an FBI file on all teammates, current and former: J.J. Hoover

2nd: Milwaukee Brewers 91-71

  • Best: Wily Peralta
  • Worst: Logan Schaefer
  • Proudly assisted Van Helsing in Transylvania: Jonathan Lucroy

3rd: St. Louis Cardinals 85-77

  • Best: Ty Wigginton
  • Worst: Shelby Miller
  • Actually a cartoon character with googly eyes: Pete Kozma

4th: Pittsburgh Pirates 82-80

  • Best: Andrew McCutchen
  • Worst: Clint Barmes
  • Once the Dominican Republic’s top party magician: Wandy Rodriguez

5th: Chicago Cubs 64-98

  • Best: Darwin Barney
  • Worst: Travis Wood
  • Won a James Beard award for his groundbreaking French-Asian fusion in the late nineties: Hisanori Takahashi

 

N.L. WEST

1st: Los Angeles Dodgers 101-61

  • Best: Paco Rodriguez
  • Worst: Zack Greinke
  • Farm system from which 90 percent of today’s players come: Brandon League

2nd: San Francisco Giants 97-65

  • Best: Marco Scutaro
  • Worst: Madison Bumgarner
  • Sounds like “underpants” if you say it fast enough: Hunter Pence

3rd: Arizona Diamondbacks 74-88

  • Best: Cliff Pennington
  • Worst: Trevor Cahill
  • Law-firmiest: Goldschmidt, Pollack, and Ziegler LLC.

4th: Colorado Rockies 74-88

  • Best: Yorvit Torrealba
  • Worst: Troy Tulowitzki
  • Secretly moonlights as 1960s CBS newscaster: Rex Brothers

5th: San Diego Padres 63-99

  • Best: Huston Street
  • Worst: Cameron Maybin
  • Wyatt Earp-iest: Cody Ransom

AL champion: Los Angeles Angels

NL champion: Washington Nationals

World Series champion: Los Angeles Angels

Name that will make you laugh all year: Jedd Gyorko

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