DETROIT - JUNE 20: Max Scherzer #37 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 20, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Got some free time this morning, but not quite enough to write up Kansas City's Bring Him Back. So I'll just toss a couple bits of info, as well as some of my thoughts (unfortunately), out there to think about today. Hopefully we'll get some smaller things out this weekend, and I'll get to Bring Him Back on Monday, I hope.
2010 was the first full season without a 30 HR/30 SB in 24 years
This is the first time we haven't seen a 30-30 player in the majors since 1994, and the first time we've seen it in a full season since 1986.
Oh, and another fun fact about 30-30 players: Since division play began in 1969, we've seen 50 instances of a player hitting 30 homers and stealing 30 bases in the same before. The number of times that feat was accomplished before 1969? Four. And three of those came from 1956-1963, when Willie Mays did it twice and Hank Aaron did it once. It's just another reason why Ken Williams' 1922 season (39 HR, 37 SB, other crazy sick numbers that nobody seems to remember) is one of my favorite individual performances in MLB history.
Remember when Max Scherzer got sent to Triple-A?
And then promptly gave up one run in 15 innings while putting up a 17/2 K/BB ratio before being called back up. Let's do a little before-and-after with Scherzer's call-up, yes?
First 8 starts: 7.29 ERA, 5.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.65 K/BB, 5.25 innings per start
Next 23 starts: 2.46 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 2.91 K/BB, 6.68 innings per start
You're pretty much talking about totally different pitchers when you see these numbers. The early-season Scherzer struggled with consistency- his command wasn't great (as usual), but the bigger concern was that his well-known ability to miss bats seemed lacking.
Part of this was presumably velocity. According to Texas Leaguers' Pitch F/X database, Scherzer's fastball averaged 91.8 MPH during the first eight starts, but jumped up to 93.5 MPH during his final 23 starts. And his ability to miss bats came back in full force, as the whiff rates on all three of his pitches improved after the demotion and subsequent promotion. One thing to notice is that Scherzer began to throw his slider out of the zone more- and guys chased it more, too. With a slider as good as Scherzer's, he can get guys to chase frequently with pitches out of the zone, and that's something he didn't fully take advantage of early in the season.
In general, though, you have to be pretty blown away by how strong the Scherzer, Jackson and Coke have looked in Detroit- the Tigers are going to end up with a really nice return for Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson at this pace.