Madison K. Bumgarner, talented pitcher, threw the ball extremely well today.
It's a sunny Friday afternoon. Let's lie back on the lawn, put a hayseed in our mouths, and wonder just how good Madison K. Bumgarner can be this year.
Oh, that cloud looks like a broken bat.
Check that cloud out. It looks like a snot rocket.
This is going to be Bumgarner's year, I reckon.
It's worth noting that pitchers don't automatically get better and better, learning from experience and applying their knowledge productively in game situations. Right when they learn the craft of pitching, their bodies betray them, and the stuff gradually slips.
It's like me. Do you know what kind of grades I would get in high school right now? Straight-A, all down the line. I'd get into Stanford and tear that place up, too. I'd do kegstands and 20-page essays in the same hour. When it came to the real world, I'd know just what to say in job interviews and everything. I know now that you need to be mysterious to have success with the ladies. And tall. I have it all figured out now. Just give me that chance.
But those days aren't coming back. My fastball is gone, so to speak, so it's all about adjustments to what comes at me now. And when I'm 50, I'll complain that 2014 Grant was an ignorant ass, regardless of how successfully I navigated these years. It's like that with pitchers. The craft comes, but the youth fades.
Except, let me make a fanboy argument for Bumgarner getting better and better. He already has the craft. I'm not sure how much better Bumgarner can get with his command, even if it took a little step back last season. For a 23-year-old, it was still uncanny. It can get a little better, though.
Bumgarner set a career high in walks per nine innings last season, but he also set a career high in strikeouts per nine innings. What this blog post presupposes is, maybe they both get better?
There's no reason why, other than I want it to happen. If you're looking for young pitchers with preternatural command like Bumgarner, Zack Greinke is a close fit. He didn't have a magical age-24 season. He didn't shave a score of walks off his total every season. Other than one freaky year (10 WAR for a 97-loss team!), Greinke has been Greinke, for the most part. If you're the betting sort, bet on Bumgarner to keep doing his thing. It really is an excellent thing.
I'm tired of projecting players to do their thing. That's all these projections are: Take the last three years, roll them into a new projection. Take the last three years, roll them into a new projection. Take the last ...
Madison K. Bumgarner is going to come to your house and throw a slutter at the stained-glass window in your living room. It will shatter, and he'll leave, wordlessly, on to the next house, without a single hint of remorse in his eyes. And as you pick up the shards of Nana's window, a family heirloom, you'll be thanking Madison K. Bumgarner for his gift to you. He will have blessed you with something you couldn't fathom before.
That's what Bumgarner will do. And he's going to do it to the National League, too. No reason behind this, no predictive model. Just fan science.
HR (allowed): 15
HR (hit): 2
Cy Young votes? A few, at least. I don't see a problem with this kind of projection. When has that kind of spring optimism ever been rejected?
Mostly, though, I like that Bumgarner looks like something off the Hey Jude album cover now.