By: Holly Horning
After reading the social media sites associated with the Tigers for a while, one can clearly see where the majority of readers posting stand on each and every player.
It’s easy to see why loyal followers universally love Miggy and VMart. They’re great at what they do, they have unbelievable work ethics and outwardly exhibit positive personalities. Most of us also felt favorably about Torii Hunter who always had a smile for everyone and an infectious personality and sense of humor. Same with Austin Jackson. Today, we would probably include JD Martinez, Rajai Davis, David Price and the high-energy Iggy into that category.
But what about the others? The guys about whom we don’t know enough? The guys who are quiet? The guys who don’t show much expression? Just how much does personality and facial emotion play into our acceptance and support for a player?
Well, according to numerous studies, a lot. We are required to form our opinions of Tiger players based upon what we see of them in the dugout, on the field and during the occasional interview. And showing a positive, extroverted or high-energy personality gives them a decided edge in how favorably we rank them.
For example, when Brayan Pena was with the team, he was a fan favorite and many considered him to possess skills higher than he actually had. Who didn’t love that ready smile or the infamous play at the plate where, face down, he raised his arm and shook that ball in his hand in victory? A lot of fans preferred him over the starting catcher. Which brings us to…..
Yes, Alex Avila. Despite the fact that Avila ranked as the third best defensive catcher in MLB last year, he has been designated as the fans’ whipping boy for the past several years. Granted, some of this is due to his rather anemic bat, but few fans give him the credit he deserves. And this is because Avila does not publicly show emotion or give anyone a clue as to what his personality is like. He always appears stoic whether a great play has been made or he strikes out. If he appeared to be friendly and personable or even smiled regularly, would we feel differently?
And then there are the enigmas – Romine, Perez, Castellanos, Soria and Gose. Guys with solid skills for the most part but don’t outwardly show their personalities or emotions. Players who maybe receive more criticism because fans find it harder making a connection with them. Even Anibal Sanchez, arguably one of the best pitchers out there, keeps out of the spotlight and tends to be forgotten in discussions about the rotation. It may be easy to see why given the extroverted personalities of Price, JV – and until recently, Max and Fister.
Coaches and managers are not immune either. Many fans, including myself, are still trying to feel their way around Brad Ausmus. His facial expressions are rather limited and outwardly, he appears hesitant in expressing himself or letting go in interviews or in the dugout. Too soon to tell if this is his authentic self or if the pressure of being the new kid on the block makes him cautious. Only time will tell. You can bet I’ll be watching his every move….