Jack Of All Trades

I’ve always considered myself a jack of all trades. Never the best at anything in particular, but able to be quite competent at most things.

I don’t think I can argue against specialization itself. Of course, given the choice, I would pick the best doctor to treat me, the best cook to handle my food, and the best dentist to look at my teeth.

But I would argue that when putting together a team, having a few good utility players is more than a nice to have, it’s a necessity. Let’s consider the 2017 Houston Astros, winners of the World Series.

Out of their top 5 most valuable players (using the stats called WAR, Wins Above Replacement), 3 have played more than 10 games at 2 or more positions. The most impressive, Marwin Gonzalez, totaled 134 games split among  6 positions, 5 of these for more than 10 games. Over those 134 games, he managed to go to the plate 515 times (6th most of the team), and post a batting average of .303 (4th in the team).

The abilities for the Astros to slot a guy like Marwin in their lineup almost anywhere, and get a quality offensive production out of it, is instrumental to sustaining success over 162 games (the length of the regular season in baseball). If I’m Marwin, it’s clear that my flexibility and ability to do many things well is the key to my getting that much playing time.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball: I cannot predict what would have happened should a different player have been on the roster, but I will guess that a different, less versatile player would have had less of an impact on his team.

What do you think: Depth, or breadth?

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