Micah Owings was once one of the best-hitting pitchers in all of baseball. He was so good at hitting that he decided a year ago to become a full-time first baseman. After a year in the minors in which he hit .252/.296/.444 with nine homers and 34 RBI in 82 games, he has decided to switch back, reports Chris Cotillo.
He’s currently unsigned and is looking for a minor league deal. Owings, who is 31 years-old, is 32-33 with a 4.86 ERA and 347 strikeouts and 208 walks in 483 major league innings, with the Diamondbacks, Reds and Padres.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.