What exactly are Bader-levels of "effort"? Is that because he churns and burns and dives? There was a fielder not too long ago that the Cardinals had by the name of Juan Encarnacion. I remember getting all kinds of questions about his "effort" and why it seemed like he didn't care out in right field or on the bases. But, you know what I never got an email about -- about how he didn't make the play Tony La Russa once brought up this unfortunate prism that people have -- when some looks like they're hustling they get more credit for hustling than someone who makes the same play look easy. He called then "churners" and "gliders," and he was cautioning us to look at the outcome of the play and not necessarily the style of run or style of player that made it. I have seen some mad-churners not make plays in the field that gliders, like Encarnacion, make casually. In 2006, Encarnacion was a plus-17 in right field, and he had the fourth-most runs saved of any fielder at his position in the majors. That's good, no matter how he looked doing it.
I get frustrated, as I'm sure you do too, by how some of these descriptions are tied to background and where a player grew up -- and not all that often about how they actually play, or the outcomes of those plays. It's like when you see comps for a prospect and oh! lo! and behold! the prospect is Dominican so all the comps are, too? That does the conversation a disservice, and we, writers included, should get over that.
I'm not saying that's the case here -- let me stress that again, that does not appear to be the case here, not at all -- but I want to offer that as a backdrop for this ongoing conversation. It's important. Ozuna has had a difficult time in left field, especially on this past road trip. It is not for lack of effort. Not at all. If anything, that was apparent in the dive he made in Philadelphia. He told us several times after missing that catch that all he could think about was making the catch that won the game. He pretty much described it like a walk-off hit, and he wanted to make that play for the team, given what they had been doing and how they needed the win. In Milwaukee, he had that awful play in left field where the ball landed at his feet. He didn't hide from it. He owned it. He stood there and talked about his mistake. It wasn't lack of effort. It was lack of execution.
Perception, by definition, is in the eye of the beholder.