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Articles Tagged Fernando Valenzuela 

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Which September call-ups does the BP staff remember the best?

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New York is in a state of Linsanity, which brings to mind the craze of one particular rookie phenom.

I am embarrassed to confess that at one time I thought Tom Seaver deserved the 1981 Cy Young Award over Fernando Valenzuela. Seaver had lost one of the closest votes ever to the Dodgers rookie, tying him in first place votes 8-8, but lost on a second-place vote, 70-67. Perhaps it was my sympathy for a great pitcher against an upstart, or simply my natural cynicism about any fad, and Fernandomania! was definitely that, though a bandwagon his fans were right about. I don’t know enough about basketball and the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin to tell you if he’s going to be a flash in the pan or a lasting contributor like Valenzuela was, but the excitement greeting his unexpected rise has some of the same flavor to it.

Thirty-one years later, it’s easy to forget just what an incredible debut Valenzuela had. The chubby 20-year-old had pitched 17 2/3 scoreless innings in relief in 1980 after posting a 3.10 ERA at San Antonio of the Texas League, a circuit in which the average ERA was 4.25. Flash forward to Opening Day 1981, when Jerry Reuss had to pull out of his scheduled start at home against the Astros and Joe Niekro. Instead of substituting Burt Hooton, Bob Welch, Rick Sutcliffe, or any other pitcher hanging around the staff, manager Tommy Lasorda went with the kid. The results were instantaneous, the lefty screwballer pitching a complete game shutout.

From there, it would be about six weeks before Valenzuela didn’t pitch a complete game or even recorded a loss. In his first eight starts, Valenzuela went 8-0 with seven complete games, five of them shutouts. In those 72 innings, he allowed just four runs (0.50 ERA) on 43 hits while walking 17 and striking out 68. He was less fun after that, posting a 3.66 ERA—above the league average—in the 17 starts remaining in the strike-truncated season, albeit with another three shutouts.

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Which baseball player measures up to the Linsanity sweeping the nation?

Football season is over. Spring training is still a few days away. That means, for multi-sport fans like me, there is little choice but to get immersed in college basketball and the NBA. And doing so during the past week meant going Linsane.

Point guard Jeremy Lin emerged as the New York Knicks’ savior, reviving a team that was struggling to stay afloat in the absence of stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. A Harvard graduate who went undrafted and was rejected by two teams, Lin certainly did not take the beaten path to fame, but that only adds to the intrigue of his timely breakout. Hoops Analyst writer Ed Weiland is one of the few who can claim he saw this coming.

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October 31, 2011 9:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: A Weighty Matter

10

Jay Jaffe

As CC Sabathia's opt-out date ticks nearer, we look at some of his potential free-agent comparables from the past.

The stroke of midnight on Monday is the deadline for Yankees ace CC Sabathia to opt out of the final four years of the seven-year, $161 million deal he signed in December 2008, and the word on the street, via SI.com's Jon Heyman, is that he will do so. While a thrilling World Series played out in Texas and St. Louis, the New York City tabloids were been busy picturing Sabathia in a Red Sox uniform, particularly on the heels of the news that John Lackey will miss the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are said to have prepared a pre-emptive pitch; according to the New York Post's George King III, "The Yankees are believed to be OK with a five- or six-year deal for an obvious raise over his current $23 million a year. Yet seven or eight years is something they want to avoid because of age, workload, and Sabathia gaining weight across the second half of last season."

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January 14, 2004 12:00 am

The Class of 2004

0

Jay Jaffe

The Baseball Writers of America's standards on what constitute a Hall of Fame pitcher are in a curious spot now, both when it comes to starters and relievers. Spoiled by a group of contemporaries who won 300 games from the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s (Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro), the writers haven't elected a non-300-winning starter since Fergie Jenkins in 1991. That Perry, Sutton and Niekro took a combined 13 ballots to reach the Hall while Ryan waltzed in on his first ballot with the all-time highest percentage of votes is even more puzzling. Apparently what impresses the BBWAA can be summarized as "Just Wins, Baby"--which is bad news for every active pitcher this side of Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. Of the 59 enshrined pitchers with major-league experience, only two of them--Hoyt Wilhelm and Rollie Fingers--are in Cooperstown for what they accomplished as relievers. While the standards for starters are somewhat easy to discern (if lately a bit unrealistic), the growing number of quality relievers on the ballot, the continuous evolution of the relief role, and the paucity of standards to measure them by present some interesting challenges to voters. If there's an area in which performance analysis has struggled mightily against mainstream baseball thought, it's in hammering home the concept that the pitcher doesn't have as much control over the outcome of ballgames--as reflected in his Won-Loss totals--or even individual at-bats--hits on balls in play--as he's generally given credit for. Good run support and good defense can make big winners of mediocre pitchers on good teams, and .500 pitchers of good hurlers on mediocre teams. As such, it's important to examine the things over which a pitcher has control and account for those he does not. Once again, the Davenport system rides to the rescue.

[Note: The research for this piece, and much of the writing, was done prior to the Hall of Fame voting results being announced.]

INTRODUCTION

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March 28, 2003 12:00 am

Impact Rookies

0

Jeff Bower

The end of March is a time of great anticipation in the baseball world. Fans are nearly as anxious as the players to see the teams head north and start getting some hard answers to the questions that surround their favorite ball clubs. Since veterans have generally established expected levels of performance, much of the buzz and uncertainty surrounds rookies who have survived the spring sifting.

For franchises like Arizona (John Patterson and Lyle Overbay), Philadelphia (Marlon Byrd) and the Yankees (Hideki Matsui), the ability of their prized rookies to make the jump to the majors may be the difference in winning the division. In Cleveland (Travis Hafner and Brandon Phillips) and on Chicago's North Side (Hee Choi), youngsters are centerpieces as the teams try to return to competitiveness. Meanwhile, Kansas City (Angel Berroa) and Tampa Bay (Rocco Baldelli) are banking on new faces to provide some optimism for the future. Regardless of the team's near-term goals, their chances of achieving them will be buoyed if their first-year players make a big splash. While impatiently waiting for the words "Play Ball" to be yelled out Sunday evening in Anaheim, I decided to determine what rookies have turned in the greatest "impact" seasons in history.

A player's season needs to be evaluated in the context in which it occurred to determine its impact, since identical statistical lines from two different environments (e.g. 1968 National League versus 2000 American League) can have vastly divergent values. To accurately measure the impact of a rookie's performance, it must be compared only to other players in the same league within the same year. And since analysts have made great strides in quantifying defense the past few years, positional value and a player's defensive performance should also be included in the evaluation.

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October 1, 2002 12:33 am

Playoff Prospectus: Anaheim Angels vs. New York Yankees

0

Jeff Bower

This is a match-up of opposites in many ways, not the least being the teams' post-season histories. The Yankees have won the World Series 26 times, including four of the past six years. To achieve a similar level of dominance, the Angels would have had to win 10 championships in their 41 years of existence. Instead, they enter the playoffs with the most meager post-season tradition of any Divisional Series participant, with three first-round exits in as many tries.

This is a match-up of opposites in many ways, not the least being the teams' post-season histories. The Yankees have won the World Series 26 times, including four of the past six years. To achieve a similar level of dominance, the Angels would have had to win 10 championships in their 41 years of existence. Instead, they enter the playoffs with the most meager post-season tradition of any Divisional Series participant, with three first-round exits in as many tries.

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