I can't comprehend this Ryan Vogelsong thing. We're over a year in. Still feels like a waking dream. I'm pretty sure the Jason Schmidt trade was a mistake now. Can you imagine Ryan Vogelsong coming back on short rest for Game 7 of the 2002 World Series? Nails. He would have shut the Angels down with his light-tower glower. Barry gets a ring. Man, this was all a huge mistake.
Except that Ryan Vogelsong broke well before the World Series, and he missed the entire 2002 season. You know the story from there. Locked up prison for crimes he didn't commit. Trained with Rāʾs āl-Ḡwl in the art of throwing strikes. Used his right ulnar collateral ligament to fashion a makeshift ladder to save a dozen people from an office fire. Spent time on a foreign island far, far away where they don't even cook their fish. Blah blah blah. You're already so jaded with the Ryan Vogelsong story.
But if you had asked me what makes Ryan Vogelsong good, I'm not sure if I would have had a good answer before tonight. He's been unquestionably fantastic, obviously. But I couldn't name a signature, this-is-why-he's-good weapon. He doesn't throw 95. He doesn't have a wipeout slider or a filthy, 12-to-6, knee-buckling curve. His changeup doesn't break the width of the plate. So I decided to watch this game and see if I could figure out how Vogelsong got as many outs as he did. My findings:
- He throws a cutter to the third-base side of the plate
- He throws a two-seamer to the first-base side of the plate
- He's stubborn as all ****
That's the three-step Vogelsong plan for success. Get the production team on the horn -- this instructional video is gonna move 50,000 units, easy. Oh, he does other things well. The curve might not be legendary, but it's plenty good. His changeup works well against left-handed hitters. And his four-seam fastball has plenty of hop, especially when he throws it up in the strike zone with two strikes. But it's really his command, placement, and movement with his fastballs that makes him successful. He nibbles, nibbles, nibbles, and he's stubborn as all ****. He doesn't really care what the umpire thinks the strike zone is. The umpire works for him.
Great. But it's worth noting that when you look at his career walk totals, he never had good command. When the Giants were winning the NL West in 2010, Vogelsong was floating between AAA teams because he had the command of Jonathan Sanchez after going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
It doesn't make sense until you think of it like a Twilight Zone episode. The protagonist is a pitcher who lives in a world where the umpires have a strike zone the size of a SIM card, but he's the only one who can see it. He stumbles around for 22 minutes plus commercials, trying to convince the world that he's not crazy. Then he's released by the Phillies, and the episode ends. After that, the natural order of things is restored, and he's good again.
If you can think of a better explanation than this nonsense, I'd like to read it. Vogelsong is a joy, an absolute joy, to watch. And maybe the base runners he gets will start scoring, and he'll hit the kind of rough spots that pitchers always do. But when I was rooting like a maniac for him to make the All-Star team last year, it's because he wasn't going to get another shot in his life. Welp, turns out he's really that talented. He has a great shot at a second selection, and I'm rooting like a maniac again.
Melky Cabrera has 50 hits in May. That's absurd to type. A list of notable players who didn't have 50 hits in their Giants career:
- Kenny Lofton
- Dave McCarty
- Darryl Strawberry
- Randy Kutcher
- Rob Deer/Matt Nokes (combined)
- John Vander Wal
Damn, there's that trade again. We're sorry, Ryan!
But Melky has been hilarious to watch this month. Everything he hits, he hits hard. The things he doesn't hit hard? They find a hole. You do realize that his three hits were a pair of 15-hop grounders and a swinging bunt, right? That isn't meant to be a slight -- when you get 50 freaking hits in a month, you get those. And when he gets on, he runs around like a wide-eyed freak.
I remember the Randy Winn domination of 2005. It was just as fun to watch, but it was quiet and calm. You know, classy. Randy Winn and all. Cabrera's tear has been similar, but it's comprised more of pure energy. There will be months where he doesn't hit .894. There will be months where he looks like an average player. You still don't want to draft up the offer sheet as if you're expecting a 300-hit player. But, holy crap, Melky.
Jonathan Sanchez struck out five and walked only one in Omaha tonight. That's great. I'm legitimately rooting for him. But I'm starting to think the Giants might have won that trade. Don't want to jinx it, and I don't want you to think I'm writing controversial stuff just for the page views. But I'm starting to think the Giants might have won that trade.
The eighth inning started with a walk. This is still going on.
Yup. Here's your problem.
Someone set this thing to "hack."
It was really that easy. Hooray for the new Giants! Just don't spend too much time wondering what in the hell happened. It hurts.