Anthony Vasquez's Top Play

Not this play

I'm going back to the Anthony Vasquez well again. Sometimes I get stuck looking at Barry Bonds' statistics because they're so unbelievably amazing. Sometimes I get stuck looking at Anthony Vasquez's statistics because they're so unbelievably amazing in a different way. One might say the exact opposite way. Anthony Vasquez allowed a 1.140 OPS. Barry Bonds, as a Giant, posted a 1.143 OPS.

I feel bad when I write about Anthony Vasquez. I don't feel bad about the material - the material is fine. I feel bad because, what if Anthony Vasquez is reading this? Anthony Vasquez knows full well how terrible he was as a Mariner. He was there. I'm just piling on. Opening old wounds. Anthony, if you're reading this, understand that I mean nothing personal. I'm sure you're a great dude, and I hope you bloom into an ace. It's just that the numbers you put up are quite literally among the worst numbers ever posted. It's interesting to look at them and write about them.

For this exercise, I wanted to pinpoint Anthony Vasquez's top play. You know, find a diamond in the mud, or at least a part of the mud that's a little less muddy. I didn't conduct a search for Anthony Vasquez's best pitch, because I don't know the definition of "best pitch", and looking at Anthony Vasquez's best pitch would probably just bum me out. Rather, I looked for Anthony Vasquez's best individual result. I sorted all of Vasquez's plays by Win Probability Added and looked at the play at the top. It came on September 23, in the second inning of a start against the Rangers.

Allow me to set the scene. The Mariners were bad. The Rangers were good. Vasquez came in with an 8.25 ERA, while opposing starter Matt Harrison came in with a 3.42 ERA. Going into the bottom of the second, the game was scoreless. Then Michael Young singled. Then Adrian Beltre homered. It was 2-0 Texas.

Mike Napoli followed with a line out that looked like this:

Napoliout_medium

Then Nelson Cruz singled. Then David Murphy walked. Vasquez got ahead of Craig Gentry 0-2, but then he beaned him. The bases were loaded with one out for Ian Kinsler. The game was on the verge of getting out of hand.

Vasquez started Kinsler with a curveball for a strike. Then he missed with a changeup. Then he missed with a fastball. Then he missed with a curveball. Vasquez was behind 3-1 to a dangerous hitter with one out and the bases loaded in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Treading desperately in hot water, Vasquez went after Kinsler with an 84mph fastball.

Vasquezkinsler_medium

It worked. Something worked.

Vasquezkinsler5

Before Kinsler's at bat, the Mariners' chances of winning were about 19 percent. After Kinsler's at bat, the Mariners' chances of winning were about 30 percent. The double play carried a Win Probability Added of +10.5 percent, making this easily Vasquez's biggest play of the year.

How did Vasquez respond to his achievement?

Vasquezkinsler4

Vasquez allowed a home run in the third inning. He allowed another home run in the fourth inning. He was removed after throwing 3⅓ innings, having allowed five runs. His ERA increased to 8.89. His start had a game score of 25, which was only his second-worst game score out of seven starts.

But that double play. That double play was all right. Way to go, Anthony Vasquez.

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