Andrew Koo joined BP's technical team in 2012, working to provide data and research for the site's content. Occasionally, he steps out from the backend shadows to write himself, including in two Baseball Prospectus annuals. He goes to school at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where he divides his time between his math degree and watching baseball.
The American League wild card battle took centerstage this past weekend, but Henderson Alvarez stole the spotlight on Sunday afternoon.
With most eyes focused on the AL Wild Card race over the weekend, Henderson Alvarez turned heads on Sunday with an outstanding performance that ended the season for the Marlins in dramatic fashion.
Through eight innings, Alvarez had rendered the Tigers hitless and allowed just two batters to reach base. The right-handed hurler plunked Prince Fielder with a slow curveball in the first inning, while Jose Iglesias reached base on an Adeiny Hechavarria error in the fifth.
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Running through the notable quotes from the week that was.
ATHLETICS EXTEND AL WEST LEAD OVER RANGERS “If we learned anything from last year, it's that nothing's safe until we've played 162 games. Obviously we really like the position we're in right now, but we can't rest on that. If we learned anything from tonight and from last year, it's that they're gonna put some heat on us. They're a really good ballclub.”
—Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle, after Friday’s 9-8 win over the Rangers. The A’s almost squandered a seven-run lead when the Rangers scored six runs in the 8th inning. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)
With a strong outing versus the Braves and a home run at the plate, Jose Fernandez did his best to convince Rookie of the Year voters on Wednesday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
One of the questions Sam Miller proposed earlier this week was whether backstop Jeff Mathis has had any effect on Jose Fernandez’ increased curveball usage since the start of June. With the Marlins absent Mathis behind the plate on Wednesday due to a bruised thumb, the proposition was put to the test. Being paired with backstop Koyie Hill for the first time all season, Fernandez didn’t shy away from his curveball, relying on the offering for 36 of his 100 pitches. For the young Marlins hurler, it was his highest curveball rate in a start without Mathis behind the dish and just a tad less than his average with his veteran battery mate.
Given his sterling 2.86 ERA after shutting down Chicago on Monday night, explaining the greatness of Dodgers starter Zack Greinke comes pretty easy. Even with declining velocity—his average fastball has dropped from 94 mph to 91.7 mph since 2007—few pitchers consistently contribute at the same level.
But in 2013, there’s an aspect of Greinke’s performance that cannot be ignored. After going 1-for-2 with a walk against the Cubs on Monday, the Dodgers starter is now hitting .340/.426/.383 this season. He’s not merely baseball’s only starting pitcher posting better-than-average hitting numbers, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of his peers.
Frank Menechino was the first position player I ever saw pitch. It was 2004, and I was understandably excited by this event. I set off for the internet to research the history of the position player pitching, hoping to find every game in which this had happened. After a few hours, I realized with disappointment that it wasn’t as rare as I’d hoped it would be (it’s no hidden ball trick).
VIN SCULLY TO RETURN FOR 65TH SEASON "Just the thought of walking away from it to retirement — and looking out the window or something? It's just too good. As a baseball man, and someone who has always loved the game, the situation and the conditions are perfect.”
Running through the notable quotes of the week that was.
REACTIONS TO EXPANDED INSTANT REPLAY
“I kind of like baseball being pure with the human aspect and the human error of the game. I think the umpires sometimes get undue criticism. There's countless plays every game throughout the year and they may miss probably less than one percent of them. That's pretty good. It seems like the only ones that anybody ever brings up replay with are the ones that are at the end of the game, where they think that's the deciding factor of a ballgame. But there could be a play in the first or second inning that could have directly affected the outcome of the game.”
—Diamondbacks reliever J.J. Putz on MLB’s proposal to expand the use of instant replay in 2014. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)
Do teams tend to overpay for bullpen help at the deadline?
Baseball lore preaches that a team “can never have enough pitching,” but we rarely hear the same thing said about hitting, perhaps because of a sister proverb, “Baseball is 75 percent pitching.” Pitcher fragility plays a big part, of course. But sometimes one poor start or relief outing will cause a team to press for more pitchers: a marginal arm blows up, and suddenly the team needs assistance. When a hitter goes 0-for-4 or 1-for-5, on the other hand, the line is common enough that we don’t bat an eye.