Dominican teenagers don't lift weights?
Did you know you can get an almost daily dose of Bill James, absolutely free? it's true! Bill's constantly responding to questions and comments in the completely free "Hey Bill" section of Bill James Online. Which I recommend. Highly.
Anyway, this thing Bill wrote sure as hell intrigued the heck out of me:
Among the 5027 things that I had zero understanding of before I worked for a major league team: The Ozzie Smith/Mark Belanger/Roy McMillan type of shortstop is extinct in college baseball, at least in the good programs... Once in a blue moon you'll get a guy like that playing for a lesser college team. Why? Think about it. I looked for that kind of player for several years, finally asked a scout about it. Regimented weight lifting. All fhe major college programs now... If you take an athletic scholarship, you lift weights from the day you show up on campus. After three years of weight lifting nobody has an Ozzie Smith/Dave Concepcion type body. That's why most of the top defensive shortstops -- and the overwhelming majority of minor league shortstops -- are Latin. The good college shortstops are guys like Ryan Braun and Longoria, who become third basemen as soon as they hit pro ball. Not actually sure where Braun and Longoria played in college, but I'm just saying ... most guys like that.
Well, sure ... but the best Latino kids are signing pro contracts when they're 16 or 17, which is even younger than the U.S. kids are going to college. Don't the modern training programs in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela include strength training, too?
I'm not saying Bill's wrong, because he obviously knows a lot more about these things than I. But I do wonder if there's another, at least secondary explanation for the high percentage of Latino shortstops in the major leagues.
What do you think?