March 16, 2011

Alvaro Espinoza-lot

Alvaro Espinoza, 1991 Stadium Club

Here is a picture of Alvaro Espinoza getting ready to make an out. This wasn’t necessarily my favorite sight to see as a young Yankee fan, but man—Stadium Club made it look good, didn’t they?

Let’s take an in-depth look at Alvaro Espinoza’s adeptness at hitting baseballs, and let us start where we always do—with the Fastball Bars System:

As you can see from the Fastball Bars System chart, Alvaro Espinoza played baseball. Also, if you were a major league pitcher at the time, and a fastball was part of your repertoire, your best bet was to throw Alvaro Espinoza a high outside fastball. According to the chart, Espinoza never hit a high outside fastball in his entire life. Another good place to throw Alvaro Espinoza a fastball was pretty much anywhere.

But what about his fastball/curveball splits versus both right and left-handed pitchers? I’m glad you asked. For that let’s walk over to Star-rating Evaluation box. Stars are an easy and convenient way to capture a player’s ability. Is so-and-so good at baseball? Let’s see … three stars? Okay, cool! I understand now. Out of how many stars? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter.

In Alvaro Espinoza’s case, he earned three stars for hitting curveballs versus left-handed pitchers. That is important information for you to know as you continue living life. But what about hitting curveballs versus right-handed pitchers? Well, as we say in the business (printer repair), one star is better than no stars. Watching Alvaro Espinoza not hit curveballs versus right-handed pitchers was the equivalent of watching a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher. Unless you were on the other team, in which case it was like watching a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Al Pacino.

Now, I know what you’re saying: Charts and evaluation boxes are cool and all, but what about general comments? Well, Stadium Club has got that covered, too.

COMMENTS: Weak vs. outside and inside fastballs vs. RH.

What separated Espinoza from his peers was his average ability to hit fastballs right down the middle of the plate.

STRENGTHS: Medium-high outside curves vs. RH (.363)

The saying around baseball circa 1991 was, “You do NOT want to throw Alvaro Espinoza a medium-high outside curve if you’re right-handed.” Those rookie right-handers? Ha, ha … those guys found out the hard way.

WEAKNESSES: Low-outside curves vs. RH, outside fastballs vs. LH

Allow me to recap these general comments if I may: COMMENTS: Has weaknesses. STRENGTHS; One thing, kinda. WEAKNESSES: Everything else; see COMMENTS.

Espinoza’s Wikipedia page, which uses words to capture his career, lists several things that he was famous for being good at. For the following things, we will award him four stars:

-Getting to balls that flashier shortstops would not be able to, as their flashiness prevents them from having knowledge or concentration (zero stars for them)
-Having a name that Yankees’ PA announcer Bob Sheppard liked to say
-Bubble gum hat antics

My own personal reflections on Alvaro Espinoza can be seen here. All in all, I think what it comes down to is this: You can have your complex charts and evaluation boxes and spreadsheets and computers and iPhones and time machines and whatever. But if you want a guy to just go out there and play some baseball? And concentrate? Well … he’s got a name. And ya’ know what? It’s pretty darn fun to say.


Batboy said...

Wikipedia rules. Otherwise, we'd probably never know that Espinoza "joins Ruppert Jones, Ricky Lee Nelson, Dave Kingman, José Canseco, and Kevin Millar as the only players in MLB history to hit a fair ball that got stuck in a stadium obstruction."
Apparently, Espinoza hit a ball that got stuck in a speaker at the Metrodome. And I'd bet had the good people of Minneapolis remembered this baseball milestone (as Wikipedia describes it), they'd have never let that building get razed.

Batboy said...

Oh yeah, the Metrodome wasn't razed. That was just a dreamy dream of mine.