Javier Vazquez signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Marlins has seemingly everyone assuming that he’ll fare well going back to the NL and away from New York, and admittedly that was my first thought as well.
After all, Vazquez has a 4.02 ERA in eight career seasons in the NL, compared to 4.65 in four AL seasons, and was an elite starter for the Braves in 2009 with a 2.87 ERA in 219 innings.
However, as David Cameron of Fan Graphs notes Vazquez’s struggles with the Yankees may have had more to do with his declining fastball velocity than his inability to pitch in New York.
His average fastball fell from 91.1 miles per hour in 2009 to 88.7 mph this season as Vazquez posted the lowest ground-ball percentage of his career and served up 34 homers in just 157 innings while batters made contact on more than 80 percent of their swings against him for the first time.
Going from the AL to the NL and from the Yankees’ power-boosting ballpark to the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly home will no doubt help Vazquez, but at age 35 and with his fastball ranking among the slowest in baseball this season it’s also possible that he’s simply no longer as good as he used to be.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.
If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research.
Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have a noon meeting, he’s there at 11:30 a.m. He’s emailing story ideas in the morning. He wants research. He’s almost all-in to the point where it’s annoying.”
Rose also praised Rodriguez, saying, “You’ve never been around a guy who prepares more than Alex does. Alex does his homework. He knows the game. He understands players. He’s into the deal . . . Frank does a great job in preparation, too. I’m the only one that don’t prepare as much as these two guys. I don’t know if that’s because I can’t write or what it is. But these guys do their homework and they ask questions and they ask the right questions and then you put that in with our experience, all the things we’ve been through and how good we get along with each other, that’s why it shows up on the TV.”
Rodriguez, who hasn’t officially retired despite not having played since the Yankees released him in mid-August, wouldn’t commit to more TV work beyond this year’s postseason.