Monday, January 9, 2012

What's In A Name?

One of my favorite prospects in the Pirates' system (along with many other people who follow the system) is Starling Marte. Starling is a cool name. Can't think of anyone else that I've ever heard with that name. There was a Wardell Starling for the Pirates' minor league system a while back. There's a Starlin (no adverb) Castro for the Cubs. But no Starling.

The Pirates have some players with other cool sounding names, like Colton Cain, Stetson Allie, and Zack Von Rosenberg. As fellow prospector 5'ish Finkle says "They sound like gunfighter names". Each of these guys is regarded as a high end prospect, even though for some of them their stats don't regard them as such.

This brings to mind a thought I have periodically:
"Do we think more of a player based on his name?"

What if Starling Marte was Sam Martin -- white guy from Indiana? What if Stetson Allie was Steve Adams from Virginia? If Colton Cain was Charlie Jones from Kansas? Would they lose some of their luster?

There's also the inverse of this theory -- I sometimes feel that sites like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and the like overrate Latin players. Even though most Latin players are better than age-appropriate for their respective leagues, it seems like American players consistently rate behind them. I wonder if Wilmer Flores was Wilbur Smith if he would have been (way) overrated all these years?

On some level, it's only human nature that we think differently about people based on their perceived "coolness" of a name. It's why actors and singers change their names. Paul Hewlitt doesn't have the same ring as "Bono" now, does it?

Next time you think about a prospect with a cool name, take a step back and think how much of it has to do with his name.


  1. No wonder Bubba Starling went so high!

  2. Dude, you completely forgot one of the best ones: Brock Holt.

    That names screams "Ex-Black Ops Assassin." It's like a faux name that the government created and uses for all of its operatives. Like "James Bond."