Wednesday, August 15, 2012

King Felix and the Melk Man: Perfect and Imperfect

A couple of significant news items in baseball Wednesday:

Felix Hernandez was perfect on Wednesday against the
Tampa Bay Rays.
Perfect: Seattle ace (and former Cy Young Award winner) Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against Tampa Bay.

That makes three perfectos already this season (the other two belonging to Phil Humber and Matt Cain).

I offered some theories earlier this season on why we are seeing so many perfect games. The main one stands up for this game. Tampa Bay is a good team, but the lineup is built more for walks and power than for average. Such teams are susceptible to outstanding pitching performances, and King Felix provided that on Wednesday.

Humber and Cain, incidentally, have both struggled since their gems. Humber's ERA for the season is a bloated 5.87, 6.84 since the perfect game. Cain, a markedly superior pitcher to Humber, has had a 4.18 ERA in 10 starts since his perfect game, raising his ERA from 2.18 after the gem to 2.99 today.

Melky Cabrera and his All-Star MVP trophy.
Badly flawed: Melky Cabrera, the surprise MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game, was hit with a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.

The Giants outfielder, hitting.346/.390/.516, essentially admitted that he did it and is not appealing the test result.

Cabrera was a so-so player for several years with the Yankees and Braves, but had a breakout season in 2011 with Kansas City. The Royals traded him to San Francisco for Jonathan Sanchez — a pitcher who flopped with K.C. — and Cabrera was having an even bigger season for the Giants.

Until now. Cabrera's suspension will last the rest of the regular season, and it's bound to have a major impact on San Francisco down the stretch. The Giants are neck-and-neck with the Dodgers in the NL West, but their most productive hitter this season is now finished.

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