I haven't written a ton about actual baseball observations thus far in the young 2011 season, mainly because I've been waiting for stories to develop on their own. Here's what I'm thinking about:
Timmy's velocity is up!
We've all noticed some not-so-subtle changes in our ace, Timmy Lincecum. He's more confident and badass than he's ever been. With 2 Cy Youngs and a World Series ring, he could retire a happy man tomorrow. But he's getting better.
Last season, he really learned how to PITCH. And despite his scary-bad August, 2010 was the most important year to date for our boy. He learned how to work through mechanical problems, and how to pitch to contact instead of always trying to blow people away with swing and miss stuff.
With his fastball topping out pretty much at 93, he had to make his changeup filthier and his speeds change more drastically. Tim Lincecum has become a complete pitcher... which is crazy to say, because the automatic question is, "Well what the hell was he before?"
With a new dedication to working out his lower body and weight lifting throughout the winter, Timmy looks stronger, stouter, and he's got his 95 fastball back. Take a look at what Fangraphs put together --->
So far Timmy's categories are up across the board and his fastball's average velocity is up 1.5 mph.I know it's early, but everything from K/9 (10.24) to his BB/9 rate (1.86) have improved, and although it's only 3 starts, I attribute his improvements to his maturation as a pitcher and newfound dedication to strength-training his lower body.
I mean, the guy just looks stronger. Plus he's got the high socks. That helps aerodynamically or something...
Pat the Bat's scary start
I love Pat Burrell. Sorry. He's my boy.
That being said, his start to this season is really freaking me out. I like the 4 homers. Those are really cool, but he's been all or nothing early, and he seems to be a bit bewildered as to what is going on... simply by looking at his body language and reactions to his many swings and misses thus far.
Take this Fangraphs nerdery for what it is...
Burrell's career stats have him striking out about 25-30% of the time, depending on the year. As for other career percentages, since 2006, The Machine has averaged basically an 80% contact percentage. Meaning when he swings, 8 out of 10 times he makes contact. That's pretty damn good.
Early on this year, Burrell's contact percentage is sitting at 69%, down a full 10% from last season. In the same vein, Burrell has struck out in 42% of his 2011 at bats, a full 14% increase over his average 2010.
So yeah, look, Pat's a great dude and a good sleaze. I love rooting for him, he was a great guy when I met him, but I'm concerned about these trends. He's K'd 15 times in 44 plate appearances, and hasn't exactly been great in LF.
Hey people start slow, I get that, but these trends and percentages are scary.
The Real Machine
I know this is an epic failure on my part, but I just saw the Nic Cage movie 8MM a couple weeks ago. Now I heard something about Pat Burrell's leather-clad sex pervert costume and Brian Wilson's schtick being derived from 8MM. Never saw it, didn't investigate.
After seeing the movie, I'm a little less apt to think it's so hilarious. Sleazy? Yes. Amusing? Yes.
But the movie, if you haven't seen it is about Nic Cage being hired to see whether this lady's late husband really owned a real snuff film. And if you don't know what a snuff film is, well here is the Urban Dictionary definition.
Basically, some sickos make a snuff film for some sick rich guy, and the tape turns out to be real. The character that did the "snuffing" in the 8MM film was known only as "Machine" and basically wore the same costume that Burrell parades around in the infamous Brian Wilson/Chris Rose interview.
So look, take all that for what it's worth, but I think if half the people who laughed and joked about the whole Machine thing knew what the reference was from, they might think twice about who they talk about it with, you know?
I think it's entertaining and amusing, but you know... pretty borderline stuff, and I should've been all over it, but hey, it happens.
Former Giant Buster Burrell...
Yep. Buster Burrell was a real guy, and he was a former Giant. Not only that, but he was a catcher!
What are the chances that one team has had two Busters that played catcher... let alone that the guy's name was BUSTER BURRELL! AHAHAHA!
Poor Buster's career was a short one, but he got his first taste of the majors in 1891 with the New York Giants. In his one season with the G-Men, Buster Burrell had 5 hits in 57 plate appearances with 1 run, 1 RBI, and 2 SB. He also committed 14 errors in 15 games behind the plate.
Granted, baseball was barely a sport in 1891, but this guy wasn't very good, even for 1890s standards.
He has his own Wikipedia page and his description is as follows:
Frank Andrew Burrell (December 22, 1866 in Weymouth, MA - May 8, 1962), is a former professional baseball player who played catcher from 1891-1897 for the New York Giants and Brooklyn Grooms/Bridegrooms.
AND LISTEN TO THIS. THE BROOKLYN BRIDEGROOMS BECAME THE DODGERS! AHAHAHAHAHA!
We have to spread the word about this historical fact!
And I may begin referring to the Dodgers as the Brides from time to time.