Saturday, April 21, 2012

Settling In

The 2012 season is now securely underway and the smell of all the preseason BS is slowly wafting away. As always, a lot of teams made high-octane free agent signings and trades. A few large in-house contract extensions also have just-dried ink on them. It’s always interesting to see how these large expenditures of money work out. Baseball players are not machines and ultimate success or failure is always a matter of fractions of an inch, be it on the mound, in the field or with a bat in your hands.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty intimidated to carry the burden of a $200+ million contract on my shoulders. We are talking elite athletes here with a proven track record, but the daily pressure must be pretty immense. Alone, in the dark hours of the night, I wonder how Albert Pujols is feeling about the contract he signed for the Angels over the winter? Yu Darvish was probably the most-discussed acquisition of the season. What is going on in his head when he standing at the top of the mound, ball in hand and the game on the line? It’s got to be tough.

Many would say these players are the authors of their own misfortune: “If a player wants that kind of payday, he’s just got to deal with the pressure. Tough boogies.” I have to admit that I have some sympathy for this attitude, but also have sympathy for the players who are in this conundrum.

So here we are back at the topic of last week’s posting: just how difficult it is to be successful in baseball. Now add the pressure of not just performing at a high level (what any ball player has to do), but playing to justify your salary being more money than the treasury of a small country.

So how are the biggest signing stars of the off-season fairing?

Albert Pujols ($250 million) – 14 GP, 58 AB:  5 R, 16 H, 7 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 SO, .276 AVG, .720 OPS

Prince Fielder ($214 million) – 13 GP, 48 AB: 9 R, 17 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 9 SO, .354 AVG, .939 OPS

Jose Reyes ($106 million) – 15 GP, 56 AB: 6 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 6 SO, .214 AVG, .625 OPS

CJ Wilson ($77 million) – 3 GS 19 IP: 11 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 BB, 1 HR, 15 SO, 2 W, 1 L, 2.37 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

Yu Darvish ($60 million) – 3 GS 17.2 IP: 19 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 13 BB, 0 HR, 14 SO, 2 W, 0 L, 3.57 ERA, 1.81 WHIP

Mark Buehrle ($58 million) – 3 GS 20.1 IP: 21 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 HR, 12 SO, 1 W, 2 L, 2.66 ERA, 1.13 WHIP

The Class of 2012’s top pitching free agents seem to be doing better than the hitters, who sure aren’t at the top of the league in much. Think they’re feeling the pressure?


JohnZ said...

In general i think it takes hitters longer to adjust at the start of any season and especially when they have been traded. Many hitters are notorious slow starters. So i think yo have to give them about 30 games to see how they are doing - starting ptchers i would say take about 4 starts to be able to evaluate how they are doing. So too early in my opinion..lets see in mid-May.

John Trembath said...

I think JohnZ is right, too soon. But the pressure, wow! Watch how Vernon Wells collapsed here. He took tremendous heat from the fans and I was one of them. A huge contract means huge production and no excuses. Tough road to hoe. Good thoughts Rick, lets wait a "little" while.

Rick Blechta said...

What I should have done was compare these stats to pitchers and hitters who simply signed contract extensions. That could prove to be interesting, my thesis being that they would feel less pressure.

You're right, though. I'll revisit this in Late May as you both suggest. Stay tuned.