September 5, 2012
A Guide to Pitchers
In 2004, Rob Neyer and Bill James published a book together called "The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers." In it, the two authors provide a "Pitcher Census" of nearly every pitcher "with a substantial major league career", detailing the pitches that they threw, the speed or power that they had, the tendencies they favored, and more. For Sandy Koufax, for example, Neyer and James tell us that he threw a fastball, changeup and curve. For Warren Spahn, it was a fastball, curve, change and sinker in the first part of his career and a screwball, curve, slider, fastball, palm ball and knuckleball in the later years. For 1880s pitcher toad Phenomenal Smith, it was a "rough pitch". You might say the book is thorough.
Having been published in 2004 (with most of the writing completed before 2003 it seems), the book does include information on some pitchers who are still active today. The young CC Sabathia, for example, is listed with a fastball (92-96), curve (83-86) and changeup (78-82). But many of the pitchers still active today have only a barebones entry - that is, a listing of pitches he throws and nothing else. Many of the older pitchers also include quotes from players, scouts, books, magazines, etc. describing how the pitcher threw what he threw or what he was like on the mound. There are only a few of these more extended entries for players who have pitched sometime in 2012.
Because of this, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the quotes found in these extended entries and try to figure out which of today's pitchers it was describing. These quotes are ten years old now and describe pitchers who we see today as grizzled veterans when they were still young and strong. How might things have changed for these players?
Below are seven entries, edited somewhat for length, from "The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers." All seven entries come from the 2002 or 2003 season and describe pitchers who have played at least one game in 2012. Can you figure out who they describe? I'll post the answers later in the comments.