Javier Vazquez hoping physical therapist can help him find lost velocity

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Earlier this week I wrote about how Javier Vazquez’s significant drop in velocity this season makes him far from a sure thing to bounce back in 2011 simply because he was leaving New York and returning to the National League.

Vazquez apparently feels the same way, because Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that “he’s not sure why his fastball velocity was down” and “is working with a physical therapist” in an attempt to find the lost miles per hour.

Here’s what Vazquez had to say about his average fastball declining from 91.1 mph in 2009 to 88.7 mph this season:

It’s a fact that I had a really tough year last year. I guess I can say that I don’t know what happened to my velocity. I guess I’m at a point in my career now, I’m 34, with a lot of innings in my arm. I want to start working with a physical therapist to do exercises and stretching. I’m going to start doing that as part of my off-season and in-season [program].

Capozzi notes that Vazquez has thrown the second-most innings of any pitcher since 2000 and he certainly wouldn’t be the first pitcher to lose significant velocity in his mid-30s, so while a pre-signing MRI exam reportedly revealed no major issues the Marlins are definitely taking a risk with his one-year, $7 million deal.

On the other hand Vazquez is one season removed from a Cy Young-caliber year with the Braves and smartly noted that the Marlins’ ballpark should play to his strengths, saying: “I’m a fly-ball pitcher and [Atlanta’s] ballpark helped me a lot. Hopefully it’s going to be the same in Miami.”

Mariano Rivera elected to Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously

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Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).

Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.

Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.

Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.