Bo-Factor is back! For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I wrote a little something a few weeks back describing it in minimal detail. (Quick, go catch up. I’ll wait for you. It’s the part near the top asking if Dunn and Rios and turn things around.) For those of you who feel like a one time mentioning of Bo-Factor was sufficient, too bad for you because I think this might be one of the best ideas I’ve had and therefore I feel it is my duty to see it through. I realize that by doing this, I’ll probably overdue it and end up killing my idea, but oh well, such is life.
Critics of Bo-Factor will quickly point out that it is completely subjective, arbitrary, and inconsequential. And they are absolutely right. But that is what makes it fun. It’s a rating system that doesn’t necessarily track how good a player is, but, more or less, how awesome a player is. It’s basically a sabermetric for people who don’t like sabermetrics, or, in other words, it’s nothing like a sabermetric.
The first step in creating the Bo-Factor Rankings was to figure out how much weight should be given to each characteristic. Clearly, some characteristics are more important than others and thus should be calibrated accordingly. Keep in mind that these ratings of Bo Jackson don’t actually match the “real” Bo Jackson. Rather they are a representation of a Hollywoodized version of Bo seen through the unbastardized eyes of an awestruck child. Essentially the ratings are fitting of the ideal Bo; therefore any player will find it nearly impossible to live up to this embellished scale. However, the point of the Bo-Factor Ratings is not to see who is the most like “Bo.” It is simply about comparing one Sox player to another.
So once I set up the weighted scale of characteristics, I had to determine a baseline rating for each Sox player. I based these ratings mostly off of last season but I also took into account the broad spectrum of each player’s career. I’m sure each rating could be thoroughly debated for hours, but this is just a baseline so I went with more of a quick, first-number-that-comes-to-mind approach. I will explain the rationale for some of the ratings below, but feel free to curse at me and tell me why my ratings suck. I encourage this sort of thing.
A few more things before I begin: To serve as a control, I included Nick Punto in the ratings. I think of Punto as being the anti-Bo, hence if the ratings are to work, he should finish last. Second, the whole purpose of setting a baseline is to then track progress. My goal, as of now, is to update the ratings monthly so I can carry on this idea all season. (Mixed cheer.) Third, the parenthetical number next to each characteristic is the weighted value of the characteristic. If none of this makes any sense, bear with me, it will once you read further.
Keeping the People in Their Seats (200)
Even though I was just a little kid, I knew there was something different about Bo. He stood out. My eyes would instinctively drift towards him. He was the kind of player that made fans wait until after his at bat to make a beer run. And when your nagging girlfriend wanted to leave the game in the 7th, you would politely tell her, “Bitch, I ain’t leaving until Bo bats again.” Bo always came first.
For starters, I understand that people stay in their seats so they can boo Alex Rios, but that hardly embodies the spirit of Bo so it will be disregarded. Konerko obviously has the most pull. Beckham, with his army of pubescent cheering machines, comes in a distant second. And Brent Morel marches on largely unnoticed.
I once told a black girl something like “You look good today. I like your style.” She glared back at me as if I told her she looked chubby, quickly explaining “It’s not style, it’s swag- two G’s.” So two G’s it is. I suppose just one G would be reserved for the suburban wannabes that don’t have enough substance to earn that second G. On the flip side, it is possible to have too much swag, or three G’s. The third G is for those pretentious, overcompensating blowhards. Two G’s is the truth. At least I think this is what she was getting at.
Bo certainly had that swagg. He was the coolest guy on the field, but it wasn’t like he had to prove it to anyone, we already knew. He rocked the Nike, was unstoppable in Tecmo Bowl, and played professional football as a “hobby.” Bo Jackson was swagg before swagg was a thing. It’s a totally subjective characteristic, but at the same time, no one would deny Bo had it.
It’s sort of an unfair advantage but being Cuban comes with a certain level of preordained swagg. Come to think of it, being any ethnicity other than white is an advantage. Beckham has the charisma but he lacks the confidence. Pierzynski has the confidence but lacks the charisma. I actually struggled the most with A.J.’s rating. He has an overbearing “rebel without a cause” feel to him, but at the same time, he carries the load of having everyone hate him in a pretty natural, cool manner. He’s more thug than swagg, but his strut deserves some effort points.
Genetic Potential (180)
Bo was stupid athletic. Chiseled from steel, like some mutant from the X-Men, Bo was bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else. Not many guys who have driven in 100 RBI in a season can say that they won a Heisman Trophy just because they felt like it. In fact, Bo’s the only guy that should be saying that. His deteriorating hip, like Achilles’ heel, should have been the end of Bo, but, yet, he came back with a prosthetic hip as if to show accepted logic whose boss. Bo is the prototype for which “physical specimens” are judged, which is funny because the rest of us are simply normal, superpowerless human beings.
If Dunn and De Aza were cloned into one person, they, together as one, might be approaching the Bo-level of genetic potential. However, as singular human beings they are rather one dimensional in terms of physical tools. Viciedo is the closest thing resembling a “genetic freak” on the White Sox, while Lillibridge is the scrappy little scrapper that every team has.
Towering Home Runs (150)
Bo Jackson once hit a ball over them mountains. [Points to a faraway mountain.]
Dunn has the potential to blast a ball into orbit, if only he could make contact first. Lillibridge’s distance-to-size ratio deserves some appreciation as well.
Defensive Excellence (150)
This is about making the hard plays look easy and the impossible plays look sultry. Bo managed to put his own special sauce on every play he made. Man, was it some good fucking sauce.
If you've ever played Mario Tennis, you know the frustration of trying to get a ball past Waluigi. The lanky sonofabitch gets to everything. I imagine opposing teams must feel the same way about Alexei Ramirez - he has seemingly endless range, lunging/diving/sliding/flailing for anything within sight. And, oh yeah, he can pick it and throw it, too.
I really don’t know if Bo Jackson was clutch. I suppose I could research it, but, since this is about the idealized Bo, it doesn’t really matter because previously wired in my toddled brain is the notion that Bo Jackson was clutch.
Nothing too noteworthy here. Konerko is the guy I want up with the game on the line.
Overall Success (80)
Bo Jackson was once an All-Star so he did achieve some degree of success. But really this characteristic is more of an inclusion of all the performance qualities that the other characteristics missed, for instance, getting on base. In a more pragmatic rating system, the characteristics of Bo-Factor would be seen as mere intangibles and the overall success would be the bulk of the point system. Not here, though. With Bo-Factor, being successful is just a small piece of the puzzle. See, isn’t this fun?
This category is boring but it’s a necessary boring. Konerko is, again, the best.
Commercial Appeal (20)
This should probably be worth more than 20 points, being that the “Bo Knows” Nike campaign is the crème de la crème of sports marketing, but marketability is largely a bunch of artificial bullshit so I think 20 points is enough. Plus, “Bo Knows” was more about the swagg than it was commercial. With that being said, this category does give me reason to study local commercials starring White Sox and that’s always fun.
There we have it, the baselines have been set. I’m sure I made some truly horrendous oversights but such is the casualty when dealing with hard science. The White Sox are still searching for that player with elite Bo-Factor status, but who knows, maybe someone will emerge this year. Here’s the Top 5:
Before I go, I have one last thing. I’m excited to announce that all future Bo-Factor Ratings can be found at my new White Sox blog, Sox Fan, Here! (If you ever see me on the streets, feel free to dropkick me in the scrotum for this plug.)