By: Dustin Dietz
My debut article with BaseballDo got me to thinking about a player’s Major League debut and how one is judged just by seeing the player perform for the first time. If the player is successful when one first lays eyeballs on the rookie, then one will more than likely think of the player in high regard. If the player fails, then one will probably think the player has no chance of becoming a big league All-Star.
Not only are first impressions relevant in baseball, but are also a major part of society in general, and have been since the beginning of time. Completely unrelated to the great game, what does every human being think when he or she first lays eyes on another attractive human being? Well, some might tell you he or she considers what his or her parents will think of the dreamy eye candy. However, do not believe any person who ever says that. Any person with a modicum of intelligence will tell you he or she first noticed how attractive the other person was. It is only human nature.
In baseball terms, when fans see a player perform for the first time, they will become enamored with a player who does something positive in his first game. For example, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch he witnessed in the major leagues. Instantly, Pirate fans fell in love with the young stud.
Last week, highly touted Ranger prospect Mike Olt made his long awaited big league debut and singled sharply into left field his first at bat against former Ranger hurler C.J. Wilson. While many Ranger fans were already aware of Olt’s potential stardom, after one at bat, fans thought Mike Olt had punched his ticket to Cooperstown.
In that same game against the Angels, newly acquired catcher Geovany Soto went 2-5 with two RBI and Ranger fans already considered him an improvement over Yorvit Torrealba despite the fact Soto is hitting under the Mendoza line.
Basically, what I am trying to say in my interminable spiel is I have a tremendous amount of pressure to provide useful and intriguing content in my first article with BaseballDo, or I might be considered a gigantic failure. After all, fans were questioning Ryan Dempster after his first start with the Rangers last week despite his solid track record.
So, when pondering what I should write with the pressure squarely on my shoulders to give BaseballDo readers a positive perception of my writing ability and baseball cognizance, I decided to center on what every Ranger fan wants to read about and that is pitcher Scott Feldman. What better way to make a debut than to talk about the greatness that is Scott Feldman.
I am not here to advocate Scooter is the greatest thing to happen to baseball since hot dogs. However, where would the Rangers be without Scott Feldman this season? Since taking the loss on June 14th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Feldman has won six consecutive decisions after losing his first six to improve his record to an even 6-6.
Since the loss to Arizona, Scooter’s ERA has dropped from a pathetic 6.50, to a more reasonable 4.52. Feldman’s ERA is now only 0.14 higher than Japanese import Yu Darvish’s 4.38. Yet, when one reads fan postings on Twitter about Scooter’s upcoming starts, one would think the apocalypse is approaching and Feldman is the worst pitcher in major league history.
The truth is Scott Feldman has been the Texas Rangers most consistent pitcher in the last six weeks. Since he appeared on July 8th in an extra inning win against Minnesota, Feldman is 3-0 with a miniscule 1.09 ERA and has allowed only 3 earned runs. No other Ranger starter is within 2 runs of Feldman’s microscopic ERA. Yu Darvish’s ERA is 7.66 in that same time period. Yet, fans still have a positive perception of Yu and negative perception of Feldman
Scott Feldman was worse than dreadful the first two months of 2012. To put it simply, his sinkers were not sinking, his cutters were not cutting, and his curve ball was not curving. Feldman was leaving far too many pitches up in the zone, and his location was horrendous.
Since Feldman’s first win in San Diego on June 19th, Feldman’s curve ball has more bite, and his sinker is beginning to resemble the pitch which helped him win 17 games in 2009. Feldman has also learned to effectively throw a split-finger changeup he first developed during a rehab assignment last season. Scooter’s last three starts are prime examples of his recent improvement (22 1/3 innings pitched, 3 earned runs allowed, and a 14/1 K/BB ratio.)
The Rangers have been hit with a myriad of injuries to the pitching staff this year, and Scott Feldman has helped pick up the slack as he has started 13 games and given the club a total 77 2/3 innings. While the innings have not always been outstanding, Feldman has taken the ball whenever manager Ron Washington has asked him too.
Scott Feldman is nothing close to a Cy Young Award Winner, and never will be, but he has been a valuable member of the Texas Rangers in 2012. I am not saying fans should become smitten with the bearded Ranger player man, but it is about time fans start giving Feldman some reverence as he has been the most efficient Ranger starter in the second half.
I hope I have made a positive first impression with all the loyal BaseballDo readers. While a Scott Feldman article certainly is not slugging a first pitch home run far into the bleachers in his first major league at bat, it is at least comparable to a seeing eye single.
By: Dustin Dietz
Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18