Good stuff from The Giambino.
DL: Old-school power hitters like Tony Perez and Jim Rice didn’t like to draw walks.
JG: I think that’s selfish. Walking is such an integral part of the game. It makes the guy in front of you better and the guy behind you better. When you take your walks, that pitcher knows, “Hey, if I don’t get this guy in front of him, he’s got a chance to get a hit or take a walk, and all of a sudden the bases are loaded.” You become the ultimate team guy by taking your walks, because it puts more pressure on the pitcher. Now he can’t throw his breaking ball in the dirt any more. It changes the whole dynamic of the game.
To me, taking a walk is as important as getting a base hit. I’ll take a guy, any day, who has a .400 on-base percentage, compared to a guy who hits .300 and has a .320 on-base percentage.
...DL: Has pitching changed over the course of your career?
JG: There’s no doubt. When I first broke into the league, I faced Pedro Martinez in his prime. Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson were in their prime. Then I saw the game get very offensive — there were some great hitters in our generation. Now it’s made a swing back to pitching. Every young kid you see out there throws in the mid 90s. I saw a stat the other day that strikeouts have been way up. I think it’s an influx of these incredible young arms into the game. I played in the NL West the last year three years and every guy who comes out of the pen throws 97-98. Lefties are throwing 97-98.
The cutter became a pitch more guys were learning. Roy Halladay. Pedro would cut it every once in awhile. As guys started to get further on in their careers… Mariano had so much success with his cutter, I think right-handers said, “Shit, I want to learn that pitch.”