As you may have seen on social media or Heather’s Hunt and Peck, John Brebbia debuted some new facial hair in Japan.
We’re not sure what John Brebbia calls this new look, but we’re here for it. pic.twitter.com/djOvSqdlOY— Cut4 (@Cut4) November 14, 2018
Brebbia’s facial hair is a topic often broached when discussing the reliever. He typically remains clean-shaven throughout the offseason, letting it grow as the season progresses.
He isn’t breaking his grooming code of ethics, as the Japan All-Star Series has presented Brebbia with the rare opportunity for a mid-November beard. That extended look has been accompanied by some drastic changes.
The above didn’t happen overnight; Cut4 highlighted the gradual progression to what we see in the most recent picture.
So why is John Brebbia sporting this new style?
We’re going to get to the bottom of it.
Thanks to advances in modern-day player tracking, we have access to more data than ever before. We can take a look at the Beardcast™ numbers for his most recent cut.
Using Brebbia’s listed height of 6’1” and the proportions of the average human body, we can estimate a full skull length of 9.75 inches.
Compare this number to the photo referenced above and Beardcast™ estimates the official numbers on his new facial features at roughly 4.5”x2.75”. His xLength comes in at 5.1”, but it’s important to note that expected results don’t always match actual outcomes.
The tendrils taper to a bCRL (Beard Curl) angle of about 60 degrees. fCRL (facial curl) has the ending twists at about 65 degrees, so just take your pick given the limited variance.
Baseball is, as they say, a game of adjustments. Pitchers, especially, experience change as a constant in their approach. America’s pastime is also a sport filled with superstition, mind games and, increasingly, data. It’s purely speculative, but let’s take a look at some of the most likely reasons for the change.
Strong relievers often have a fear factor baked into their mound presence, defined by some imposing action or feature. Craig Kimbrel angles his throwing arm like a sharpshooter ready to draw. Dellin Betances uses his towering stature to get in batters’ minds. Brebbia may be taking a psychological approach of his own.
His stuff alone isn’t particularly overpowering. Perhaps Brebbia is trying to emulate the appearance of tusks on an enraged predator.
Or maybe an inverted set of devil horns, simultaneously paying homage to the Cardinal Devil Magic™.
Again in the psychological realm, Brebbia may be looking to confuse his adversary.
“Is that the opposing pitcher,” a bewildered batter might begin, “or is that a bipedal billy goat wearing the birds on the bat?”
Imagine Joe Maddon’s outrage as he climbs the dugout steps, fuming, ready to argue with the umpire about this farm animal on the mound. He’s already planned his postgame speech to the media about the lack of respect for the game.
And then the embarrassment following the moment he finds this is, in fact, an oddly-groomed John Brebbia.
John Brebbia is a learned man who’s been described by local news and others who’ve interacted with him as thoughtful.
We’ve already seen one Cardinal at the forefront of scientific innovation in the baseball world. Perhaps teammate Paul DeJong has connected the reliever with Dr. Lawrence Rocks to study the effects of alternative facial hair styles, correlating the cooling provided and the resulting impact on performance.
We’ve seen that Brebbia’s progression has been slow and steady. He’s had changes to his appearance with every start.
The Japan series also presents the perfect opportunity. Japan features a humid climate akin to St. Louis. This trip presents real game environments to test in without doing the work in the regular season or trying to simulate those conditions in the offseason.
We may well be seeing another Cardinal leading the charge in research and innovation.
Brebbia’s beard has gained sentience
After letting it grow unhindered through the ups and downs of a baseball season, combined with the knowledge of the fate awaiting the facial hair, Brebbia’s beard may well have gained autonomy from the rest of his body.
After shedding the excess surrounding the two remaining appendages, we could be seeing a symbiote a la Venom coming into existence. Even more so, the facial features may now be controlling the body we once knew as John Brebbia.
From a performance standpoint, one could see how the two limbs could generate quite a bit of spin. Conversely, there’s probably a large sacrifice in velocity given the force generated by the beard compared to a six-foot-tall man’s arm.
If the two are still working in unison, the variance could present an interesting opportunity to give hitters two very different looks and even affect timing.
Not many to be had.
Lots of unknowns.
You can be sure we’ll remain vigilant in watching for grooming updates as the Japan series comes to a close and the offseason unfolds.