Unavailable to you is a draft I wrote where I discuss Jedd Gyorko's footwear. I've written this several times and each time I'm convinced that I can do better. Not long ago a gentleman named Ken Arneson wrote a brilliant post about things he believed to be true about baseball without him being able to prove them. Number three was especially interesting to me, and led to an insight I had. To paraphrase and simplify what Ken says, he postulates that sabermetric principles are founded on biomechanical truths and the reverse is not true. About three writings into my Jedd Gyorko post I got smarter and asked for editorial help. That help has been invaluable as I started questioning why I was writing and what I wanted to accomplish.
To step back for a moment, I am not a medical doctor, a podiatrist, or even a certified pedorthist, however I have a working hypothesis as to why Jedd developed plantar fasciitis coupled with a plan for him to get rid of it for good if it occurred for the reasons that I believe that it did. While I was showering I was thinking about the different people I've known with plantar fasciitis and how different their feet were. One woman in particular comes to mind. As a hairdresser she stands for long periods of time and when she came into the store I was working at she asked for my advice after mentioning that she didn't like the way her podiatrist was handling her case.
After explaining that plantar fasciitis is difficult to resolve and telling this woman that she should either give the podiatrist she had some time, or find a new one, she insisted on trying on a variety of shoes and inserts to see if anything felt better than what she had on which were flip-flops. While I was researching the Jedd Gyorko piece I read two pieces that other people had written about the decline of his game from a sabermetric view after his diagnosis. I worked off of things that they had said, turning them over in my head because I felt like what they said was sort of true, as in not exactly wrong, but not totally right from a solutions standpoint.
Then a funny thing happened. Jedd followed me at my @Saberfeet account. That was unexpected and interesting. He became a person to me then so I started reading his feed, found some pictures of his twin boys, and stumbled on a picture of him and his wife. That picture gave me new information and this is the coolest thing about what I do since you never know where pictures of people's feet in footwear are going to be revealed. I read up on plantar fasciitis and spoke to my friend Jeff Wiser about what footwear changes could do from an injury prevention standpoint, but now I'm wondering something new. If plantar fasciitis was responsible for poor performance, and we change Jedd's footwear, can we make some educated guesses about how he will perform given better fitting footwear?
I touched on this in my piece, but I'm not enough of a sabermetrician to understand each of the stats and what they mean to an individual player. I'm not really worried about my prediction that his UZR ranking will increase since a part of that is footwear, but I can't be blamed if he decides to take an inefficient route. There are factors beyond footwear at play in many of these calculations, but I'm wondering if we can give a predictive value to it or somehow rate it the way scouts grade other tools. The main reason I'm writing this and bringing what Ken wrote in for a discussion is I think we're approaching injuries in a one size fits all manner when we should be narrowing our focus considerably and asking, in this case, why did Jedd Gyorko develop plantar fasciitis?
When I worked with that hairdresser I knew that her footwear was junk. I could see it the minute she walked in through the door. She wanted a quick fix and nobody can immediately undo years of damage and neglect. Painting her nails a fun summer color did not decrease the pain she felt with each step that she took. I couldn't do anything for her, but she persisted so I ended up selling her shoes that her podiatrist yelled at her for purchasing. Just like Tommy John surgery, theories exist as to why people develop plantar fasciitis and this is what I'm driving at. We need to ask why a particular pitcher needs Tommy John and take each case individually instead of assuming that there is a universal cause for the procedure.
These are just my ideas so if you don't like it you are free to explore your own, however I think I know why Jedd Gyorko developed plantar fasciitis and it is a foot specific condition that not many others will have a problem with if my theory is correct. So while others will say that the pivoting required to turn a double play is a factor, I'm going to agree with the qualification that he was wearing footwear that did not fit him well at the time when he was trying to turn two. I believe that I know why he has problems with this and have some suggestions for him personally, but I wouldn't try to reach out to Albert Pujols and advance the same theory if he has a foot that is different than Jedd Gyorko's.
This idea came to me in a rush, and I'm writing this out there just to see what others think. Maybe people are already doing this, but I haven't come across that evidence and I would like to see my theory either supported, or refuted. To say that we need to be treating people as individuals is only part of the overall equation, I think we need to do a better job at offering possible causes for an injury or scenario such as a hitting slump, and then further refine that to determine why a particular person has plantar fasciitis when others who are playing the exact same position are not, and someone who plays a different position also has it.
While this was a fun exercise for me, I also hope that you enjoyed it. I'd like to get feedback from the editor I'm working with on my other Jedd Gyorko piece, but if you're the curious type, and you feel as if you can offer me some advice on how to incorporate stats into it, or review what I've done so far, then I would be more than happy to give you a copy of what I have so far for your viewing. I would also be interested in any other ideas you may have on this, or any other topic that relates to footwear, general injury prevention, and addressing why certain things happen to certain people and not to others. I've reached out to a couple people on my own, but if you have someone you would like me to meet, please let me know.
Thank you for your time and attention today, I appreciate having a sounding board.