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There's Got To Be A Way To Use Two Month's Worth Of "Anthony Rizzo Playing With A Concussion" Data To Help MLB Identify Concussed Players

Puts x-ray graph above in a… whatever the thing is they put x-rays in to shine light through them…

Look how they massacred our boy. That's what every Cubs fan like myself is thinking after it came out Anthony Rizzo has been playing concussed since June 2nd - the day he returned after colliding with Fernando Tatis Jr.. The New York Post followed yesterday with an article that included a neurologist saying "People don’t always have symptoms right away. Symptoms can come and go".

I don't know doc. My batting average scan seems to suggest this was pretty sudden. This shows every batter with at least 100 at bats pre and post June 2nd that batted .300 or better from the start of the season until June 2nd (except Luis Arraez because his ridiculous line ruined the effect on the graph). As a group, the grayed out guys batting averages over time are fairly consistent albeit with some naturally expected regression to the mean for such a preselected group. 

Then there's Rizzo. This is anything but natural. I labeled his name in such a way that perhaps only he can read it and gave him a Cubby blue line because quite frankly the Yankees don't deserve our boy for this atrocity. It's very possible Rizzo might think he currently plays for the Cubs anyway. 

Listen, I'm not saying I think the Yankees analytics department requested Brian Cashman make Aaron Boone play Rizzo knowingly with a concussion for research purposes. But I am saying that since it already happened - I'm taking this opportunity to play statistical doctor to make an analytics that can identify if a player is playing concussed. Call me a 1930s German scientist all you want, but what the hell? We have two months of data to work from. If nothing else one of my favorite past Cubbies can be the martyr that helps major league baseball figure out what a concussion is. They evidently need it. 

rubs chin thinking while staring at x-ray

But what about that other line that seemed to drop sharply towards the right of the above graph along with Rizzo? Let's run another scan to see who that is.

Oh my Lourdes. An even steeper drop. Gurruel Jr. tanked with a 0-25 stretch before trickling down further in an eerily similar manner as Rizzo. I didn't see anything about him getting injured in any way which makes me wonder about a possible hidden concussion for him as well. Keep in mind I'm not a real doctor and barely even a real statistician. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty casual in the baseball department as well. Whatever. But if there's anything we can learn from that spurious correlations website which shows graphs of things like drownings in pools correlated with Nicolas Cage film releases, Gurriel Jr.'s similar trend line isn't necessarily a smoking gun.

What other variable other than batting average might drastically affect a concussed player? As Hubbs pointed out yesterday, Rizzo went some 40 games without a home run. That's absurd for a bomber like Rizzo. You can get a hit on a wonky ball or lucky swing - but to hit a home run your motor skills from the brainular region of your dome can't be in a state of mind akin to Snoop Dogg watching Cheech and Chong. 

Keeping the same sample of .300 hitters pre-June 2nd (fine, I'll add Arraez to the party), let's look at how Rizzo compares to the rest of the class.

Neanderthal bones buried 20-feet in the ground probably have a better pulse than this. Everyone else seems to be making consistent progress except Rizzo who could only pull the ole blind squirrel eventually finds a nut routine. 

But where is Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in this?

Not bad. Not bad at all. Perhaps the sign of a concussed player when no other injury is apparent is a combination of a stark drop in batting average along with an inability to hit the long ball. If that's the case, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was never concussed. His batting average just started to suck. This happens in baseball. 

This certainly isn't a conclusive analysis, but this situation presents a fun ass project for me to continue digging into. I need to explore other variables that might plausibly help identify a player with a concussion, provided they didn't sustain any other injury acting as a covariate. Maybe concussed players take more pitches? More swing and misses? Fielding errors? Complain to their coach about feeling foggy and hungover all the time? Nah can't be that one.

Anyway, the Yankees may have rizzed up Rizzo on this one, but that doesn't make them the (brain) drip king. I'll be back with a proper logistic model based on Rizzo's June and July stats and maybe even go back to see if I can identity previously undiagnosed concussions for other players. I won't let Rizzo's tribulations go in vain. We'll help baseball as a community figure out what a concussion is once and for all. 

Hypothesis: variable "player complains about feeling foggy and possibly concussed = 1" might have some impact. 

- Jeffro