VOGELSONG RAISES VELOCITY
BACK to 90s, Sandoval’s Sudden
Spurt Reminiscent of 2012, 2010
The San Francisco Giants never fail to amaze. Yes, they’ve got the top record in baseball with some of the lowest averages. But don’t be surprised if it even gets better.
What was and normally would be a mediocre pitching staff has suddenly become world beaters. Over -the -hill guys or normally under-achievers are suddenly going into their ‘win at all costs’ . When the going gets tough the Giants go on drugs. Of course, that’s our opinion, but we’ve seen empiracal stats and have good reason to believe patterns we see before our eyes. Not to say everyone on the Giants is using performance enhancing drugs but, let’s face it, Mr Selig, they haven’t gone away and the Giants have always been leaders in that field now going back over a decade when the Brian Sabean and company became imfatuated with Barry Bonds sudden turnaround they haven’t looked back at his ‘secret*’ ever since – and continue to get away with it. So much so, that they even brought Barry back as a coach in spring training this year – to the dismay of more than a few non-Giant baseball people like Keith Obermann – to rub off some more on the players just like he did back in the days of Aurillia, Williams, Santiago. Hint, hint. Wink, wink.
Most teams would have long ago dumped an overweight, underachieving Pablo Sandoval or an aging Ryan Vogelsong – a pitcher with a sub-90 fastball they got cheap. For almost two months Sandoval couldn’t buy a homerun or reach the Mendoza line, yet the Giants kept playing him. Hmm. Then, suddenly last week, Sandoval stopped striking out and magically(?) raised his average almost 100 points with three homeruns and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop in the near future as he propels the Giants past better teams and towards another World Series(?). Remember when the Giants acquired Marcos Sccutaro midseason, 2012, with a .260 average at Colorado , only to see him magically go on a tear as soon as he joined Cabrera, Sandoval and company, raising his average almost 100 points while cutting his strikeouts in half. It’s de ja vu again with Sandoval… and maybe someone else next week. Giants Vogelsong got an earlier start this year , dropping his 5.00 ERA to below 2.00 for his last five starts, while, interestingly ,raising his velocity from the high 80s to the low 90s! This for a 37 year old pitcher who hadn’t hit the 90s consistently since the end of 2012 and the World Series; when most pitchers were getting weary late in the year, Vogelsong was getting stronger and faster – and this year he’s doing it even earlier in the year (see above graph).
You see, telltale signs of PED usage are sudden drop in strikeouts for hitters and better velocity for pitchers.
We’ve seen this many times in the past with the Giants, particularly late in the season when various players would become World Beaters. In 2010 it was Burrell, Huff and the late season acquistion Cody Ross, who largely propelled the Giants in October – this unlikely happenstance from over the hill players who remarkably and ,coincidentally, all had career years in their late thirties. Oh, and don’t forget Andre Torres, who also had a career year at 33 , and Jose Guillen, who did just enough damage for the Giants before getting kicked off the team after a second drug infraction (he was caught receiving drugs in the mail) There were others , too , with Guillen and Guillermo Moto actually getting caught and suspended for drug use.
In 2012, Melky Cabrera did enough damage for the Giants before HE got suspended there wasn’t a need for many others, but Marco Scutaro came along out of the blue to, remarkably, raise his .260 average to near .350 , where it stayed the rest of the season. On top of that Scutaro cut his strikeouts down to a miniscule number. Then, of course, there was Sandoval, at it again with his late season heroics, with his three homer game against Detroit in the playoffs andseven October homers matching his entire year’s output. Interestingly , the three Giant ‘heroes’ were all Venezuelan brethren.Even Barry Zito – perhaps the worst free acquisiton ever in baseball — somehow managed to become a consistent playoff and World Series winner for two weeks along with Vogelsong and others’ late-season mysterious surge.
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