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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fernando Valenzuela

Eligible in 2003.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 29, 2007 at 02:47 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 29, 2007 at 02:49 PM (#2460165)
He was the oldest looking teenager that I ever saw in a baseball uniform.

Has almost no chance of induction, but his celebrity and '81 season deserve some mention here.
   2. OCF Posted: July 29, 2007 at 03:14 PM (#2460182)
In my RA+ system, I have his 1981 season as an equivalent 14-7. Of course, that was the strike year, so how should one speculatively fill in the missing time? Since he was pretty much an equivalent .500 pitcher for the rest of his career, I can't really credit him with any better than that - so something like 19-11 or 19-12. A very good year, but not up there with the best of Stieb or Viola.

My whole-career equivalent record for him is 168-158. As John said, almost no chance of induction.

For a number of years, he was estranged from the Dodgers organization, but the differences were eventually patched up. He now works for the Dodgers as a Spanish language broadcaster.
   3. John DiFool2 Posted: July 29, 2007 at 06:23 PM (#2460480)
One of the saddest careers in the history of baseball. Lasorda is a HoF manager of course (and I'm not really complaining), but he sure did ruin a good thing. Twenty years later they limit his pitch counts, and he has a good chance to get above 250 wins. I dunno with his iffy control if that would have made him Hall material tho. Of course the screwball may have something to do with it too-and is he the last good ML pitcher to throw a scroogie?
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 29, 2007 at 07:41 PM (#2460709)
Didn't Teddy Higuera throw it too? (debuted several years later but career ended earlier)
   5. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 29, 2007 at 10:33 PM (#2460902)
OCF,

how does he look if you prorate his entire year, there is evidence that injuries hurt him the rest of his career.

Still, not HOMer and he will not enter my consideration set.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: July 30, 2007 at 01:53 AM (#2461061)
This is a guy that unless you were around to remember "Fernando-mania," it's hard to explain, a better version of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych (look him up if you never heard of him, he shone brightly if not for long).

Look for the photos of Fernando's eyes in the pitching motion - wild stuff!
   7. Jeff K. Posted: July 30, 2007 at 02:02 AM (#2461070)
Didn't Teddy Higuera throw it too? (debuted several years later but career ended earlier)

Higuera indeed threw it, and was one of the more underrated pitchers I've ever seen (by the public; he finished 2nd and 6th in CYA voting.) Another guy whose career just cratered out of nowhere, and IIRC, also due to pitch counts.
   8. Jeff K. Posted: July 30, 2007 at 02:02 AM (#2461071)
Look for the photos of Fernando's eyes in the pitching motion - wild stuff!

They pointed straight up, if memory serves, didn't they?
   9. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: July 30, 2007 at 02:50 AM (#2461099)
Higuera indeed threw it, and was one of the more underrated pitchers I've ever seen (by the public; he finished 2nd and 6th in CYA voting.) Another guy whose career just cratered out of nowhere, and IIRC, also due to pitch counts.

Teddy H. was one of my favorites for a while; he established himself during the infancy of my baseball fanaticism and was the #2 starter on my first Strato teams, so I was alway aware of how he was pitching. Lead the league in ERA in 1988 -- and found his name on zero Cy Young ballots.

The last years of his career were really depressing to follow. Injury after injury, failed attempt after failed attempt. First it was his back, then his knee? ankle? something like that, and then the big shoulder injury that he never came back from. A terrific pitcher, his career lost before his time.
   10. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: July 30, 2007 at 02:51 AM (#2461101)
BTW, Higuera's full name is Teodoro Valenzuela Higuera, so it's relevant to the thread, dammit.
   11. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: July 30, 2007 at 03:17 AM (#2461125)
Fernando was the guy who turned me on to pitching. I owe him a lot.
   12. Sean Gilman Posted: July 30, 2007 at 05:04 AM (#2461189)
They pointed straight up, if memory serves, didn't they?

Just like the lava lizards of the Galapagos Islands!
   13. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: July 30, 2007 at 05:41 AM (#2461203)
Fernandomania was incredible (who starts their career with 8 CG's?) and it happened when I was young enough to really believe. I remember saying, "Dad, his ERA is 0.20...he might be the best ever!" and Dad just giving me the "regression to the mean" shake of the head. Plus, he hit .250, which was pretty good for the Dodgers in the 80's.

There were lots of funny stories about him, I wonder how many were true. There was a visit to Houston, when Vin Scully reported Fernando looked out the window at the morning rain and asked if they'd play that night. Or that he was trying to rinse his hair, holding his eyes shut to keep the soap out, and one of the Dodgers veteran pranksters (Jay Johnstone, perhaps) kept pouring more shampoo into his hair.

He didn't look that old to me considering that his weight and a pock-marked complexion made him look older. But I guess it wouldn't surprise me if he were a couple years older. and, I'd still like to believe.
   14. Lassus Posted: July 30, 2007 at 06:17 AM (#2461216)
And the mania even hit small-town east coast. In the early/mid 80's I remember him being such an icon to anyone around 11 who was following the game. I think today if you asked a casual fan to name 3 great pitchers from the 80's, a number of them would say Fernando.

Not that that should affect the HOM, but it certainly shows why he's even come up as a consideration.
   15. yest Posted: July 30, 2007 at 12:11 PM (#2461273)
but his celebrity

I belive one of the HoF voters openly addmited he voted for him for Fernandomainia despite his not deserving at as a player.
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 30, 2007 at 12:13 PM (#2461275)
I belive one of the HoF voters openly addmited he voted for him for Fernandomainia despite his not deserving at as a player.


Well, it is the Hall of FAME!!! ;-)
   17. DavidFoss Posted: July 30, 2007 at 05:26 PM (#2461621)
how does he look if you prorate his entire year, there is evidence that injuries hurt him the rest of his career.

Through age 25, he was 99-68 in 1554.7 IP with 1274 K's and an ERA+ of 118. That's not the rates stats of an amazing peak, but if you triple those numbers he's an easy HOM-er.

The trouble is.... bb-ref's top ten comps through age 25 is a visit to burnout city:

Tanana
Drysdale
Dierker
Blue
Pappas
Newhouser
Buffinton
Bender
Eckersley
McLain
   18. baudib Posted: July 30, 2007 at 05:32 PM (#2461630)
Aren't most good 25-year-old pitchers' comps burnout city?

I remember reading an article in Baseball Digest where someone suggested Fernando was the reincarnation of Babe Ruth returning to complete his career as a great lefthanded starter.
   19. shaftr Posted: July 30, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2461636)
My friend has a Fernando Valenzuela glove he still uses. Oddly enough, I have a jose canseco glove.
   20. JPWF13 Posted: July 30, 2007 at 05:47 PM (#2461655)
Through age 25, he was 99-68 in 1554.7 IP with 1274 K's and an ERA+ of 118.


If you believe he was 25...
What I remember was the huge media swirl when he came to pitch in NY for the first time- Beat the Mets 1-0 (His 5th shutout btw- may 8...)

Before the game they interviewed the Met's backup C- Alex Trevino- he claimed that he'd faced Fernando YEARS earlier in Mexico and he wasn't all that... The announcers pointed out that Fernando was only "19" so he must have been really young when Alex faced him- Trevino just smirked...

Whatever his real age, Fernando's workload from 1981-1987 was just brutal.
   21. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 17, 2007 at 12:24 PM (#2488590)
I've got his 1981 as a lot better than he's been given credit for here.

For one, the Dodgers won the World Series and he was a huge part of that. I'm not 'regressing' anything. That season had real value, he gets a straight line adjustment.

Sure it was a easy park to pitch in - but it was also the non-expansion league, by far the better league.

He threw a ton of innings, he gets credit for 308.7 translated innings with a 148 DRA+ - that's a monster season. Scores 9.3 WAR in my system, which is huge (I have a higher replacement level than most).

Others in that ballpark for their best season:

Rollie Fingers (1981 - 9.3)
Warren Spahn (1953 - 9.4)
Tom Seaver (1971 - 9.5)
Phil Niekro (1978 - 9.2)
Gaylord Perry (1972 - 9.5)
Dolf Luque (1923 - 9.5)
Joe McGinninty (1903 - 9.2)
Lefty Gomez (1937 - 9.4)
Ned Garver (1950 - 9.1)
Smokey Joe Wood (1912 - 9.2)
Jouett Meekin (1894 - 9.1)
Jack Coombs (1910 - 9.2)

Don't forget, he was an excellent hitter for a pitcher, 5.4% of his value in 1981 was with the bat. And his bullpens cost him 3.7 runs that season compared to average support.

He's not a HoMer, but it was a great season. I've got him a little bit behind Vida Blue (and very comparable), peak or career, he's definitely one of the top 100 pitchers eligible. Pennants Added has him #88; my wins, but NHBA scoring (peak) has him #84 and JAWS scoring with my wins has him #82.
   22. Paul Wendt Posted: August 17, 2007 at 11:37 PM (#2489738)
2. OCF Posted: July 29, 2007 at 11:14 AM (#2460182)
In my RA+ system, I have his 1981 season as an equivalent 14-7. Of course, that was the strike year, so how should one speculatively fill in the missing time? Since he was pretty much an equivalent .500 pitcher for the rest of his career, I can't really credit him with any better than that - so something like 19-11 or 19-12.

Like Joe D said.
After a super first half and fair second half, Fernando was great in the playoffs and the playoffs were long. That is informative. It's hard to know what to make of the second half. I don't think Fernando coasted but if he said he coasted, or any Dodger said the team coasted, I would think "maybe so".


Miko #13
Fernandomania was incredible (who starts their career with 8 CG's?) and it happened when I was young enough to really believe. I remember saying, "Dad, his ERA is 0.20...he might be the best ever!" and Dad just giving me the "regression to the mean" shake of the head.

Is regression to the mean plausible? I don't believe so, not to explain that high flight and that fall to earth. Sporting an unusual motion and at least one distinctive pitch, I suppose he dominated partly by novelty and then there was significant learning by batters, scouts, and managers.


baudib #18
Aren't most good 25-year-old pitchers' comps burnout city?

Measured by Similarity Score as implemented by baseball-reference:

<u>Jim Palmer</u> thru 1971 has Clemens #3 and Seaver #7
but also #1-2-6 Gary Nolan, Jim Maloney, Don Gullett of Cincinnati Reds fame.

At age 26 Palmer posts 21-10 ERA+ 149. Clemens and Seaver float to #2 and #5 followed by Cy Young and Marichal #6-7.

<u>Roger Clemens</u> thru 1988 has Maloney and Nolan #1-3 but Palmer, Seaver, Pedro Martinez, and Marichal #2-4-5-7.

One year earlier, thru 1987 age 24, Clemens has Palmer #1 by a good margin, then Candelaria, Maloney, Zito, Ramon Martinez.

A surprise to me, Dwight Gooden is the best comp for Clemens thru ages 30 to age 33! Gooden starts with such a jump, 73 wins and 900 innings thru age 22 compared to 16 wins and 200 innings for Clemens. Evidently Clemens needs a decade to catch up (in the sense of bb-ref similarity score).

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