Indicative Impressions

April 23, 2016
What’s in a Name?
 
This article is inspired, on several fronts, by Vincent Velasquez, the young starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.   Velasquez is only 23, and headed into this season with a career 4.37 ERA,  19 career games (with only 7 starts), and up until last week he was probably best known for being part of the trade that sent Ken Giles from Philadelphia to Houston, as well as someone who was considered to be an intriguing sleeper in fantasy drafts.  
 
As you may be aware, he pitched quite a game about a week ago.  It got some attention, but it could have received a whole lot more.   In case you missed it, here’s his pitching line, courtesy of Baseball-reference.com:
 
Date
Opponent
Result
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Batters Faced
Pitches
Game Score
4/14/16
San Diego
W 3-0
9
3
0
0
0
16
30
113
97
 
A whale of a game, for sure, especially for a young pitcher making just his 21st Major League appearance, and only his 9th start.  Later, we’ll dive more into the performance, the rarity of it, other similar performances, and what it might imply.  But first, I wanted to talk about Velasquez from a totally different, more superficial angle:
 
His name.
 
Velasquez has one of my favorite names among active baseball players.  He just sounds like a star.  Vincent Velasquez.  Say it a few times out loud.  It rolls off the tongue.  He sounds like he is destined to be a celebrity, perhaps featured in commercials commenting on a car’s "fine Corinthian leather", or perhaps telling someone that "You look marvelous!" and "It is better to look good than to feel good!".
 
His name could have easily taken a bad turn and gone horribly wrong.  For example, it could have turned out like Edinson Volquez.  Volquez has a last name that is somewhat similar to Velasquez, but it’s entirely too cumbersome to pronounce his whole name.  Say it once:  Edinson Volquez.  It doesn’t flow, it’s too choppy, it’s too harsh, and it unfolds like a cheap card table. 
 
But…."Vincent Velasquez"?  Beautiful.  "Hello….my name is Vincent Velasquez…prepare to be swept off your feet".
 
It has a terrific flow to it, and I also think part of it is the double initial effect.  That’s a very distinctive trait for a name.  Part of the appeal of Mickey Mantle, aside from the obvious talent, was that he just had a great name.  Mickey Mantle.  Double-M.  His name sounded like a star’s name. 
 
(Although, in an interesting footnote…..have you heard the story behind the reference to Joe DiMaggio in the song "Mrs. Robinson"?   Paul Simon’s favorite Yankee was actually Mickey Mantle, and he met Mantle on the Dick Cavett Show, and when he was asked why he didn’t use Mantle’s name instead of DiMaggio’s, Simon explained that it was about the syllables and how many beats there were.  "Where have you gone, Mickey Mantle?" wouldn’t have sounded as good)
 
I think Velasquez’s name also is enhanced by the fact that the letter for the double initial is a "V".   It’s a lot less common.  In fact, I think he may already be the best "Double V" player in Major League history.  The best candidates I could find are Virgil Vasquez, Vince Ventura, and Vito Valentinetti.  Valentinetti had a 5-year career.  The others were even shorter.  I like Vincent’s chances.
 
In fact, Velasquez could end up as the most famous V.V. in history if things break his way.  Right now, the leaders in the clubhouse are probably Vince Vaughn, Vivian (Ethel Mertz) Vance, and Kiss guitarist (briefly) Vinnie Vincent, unless you include fictional characters like Vicki Vale or Victor/Victoria.
 
So, in tribute to Vincent Velasquez, here are two all-time teams that he could, in time, potentially make.  He’s not there yet, not by a long shot, but one can always hope:
 
 
All Time Double Initial Team
 
 
All Time "V" Surname Team
 
 
 
 
 
Position
Name
 
Position
Name
C
Bob Boone
 
C
Jason Varitek
1B
Mark McGwire
 
1B
Joey Votto
2B
Frankie Frisch
 
2B
Jose Vidro
3B
Gary Gaetti
 
3B
Robin Ventura
SS
Troy Tulowitzki
 
SS
Arky Vaughan
LF
Barry Bonds
 
LF
Bobby Veach
CF
Mickey Mantle
 
CF
George Van Haltren
RF
Harry Heilmann
 
RF
Andy Van Slyke
SP1
Robin Roberts
 
SP1
Dazzy Vance
SP2
Don Drysdale
 
SP2
Frank Viola
SP3
Bert Blyleven
 
SP3
Justin Verlander
SP4
Mike Mussina
 
SP4
Hippo Vaughn
SP5
Rick Reuschel
 
SP5
Fernando Valenzuela
RP1
Mike Marshall
 
RP1
Dave Veres
RP2
Ron Reed
 
RP2
Ed Vande Berg
P
Wilbur Wood
 
P
Javier Vazquez
P
Freddie Fitzsimmons
 
P
Johnny Vander Meer
P
Harvey Haddix
 
P
Bob Veale
Res C
Darren Daulton
 
Res C
Ozzie Virgil
Res IF
Joe Judge
 
Res IF
Mickey Vernon
Res IF
Placido Polanco
 
Res IF
Omar Vizquel
Res IF
Doug DeCinces
 
Res IF
John Valentin
Res OF
Sammy Sosa
 
Res OF
Greg Vaughn
Res OF
Joe Jackson
 
Res OF
Shane Victorino
Res UT
Bobby Bonds
 
Res UT
Jose Valentin
Mgr
Bruce Bochy
 
Mgr
Bill Virdon
 
The "Double Initial" team excludes anyone whose double initial is achieved by virtue of a nickname, such as Buddy Bell, Dizzy Dean, or Red Ruffing.  I like Vincent’s chances slightly more of potentially making the "V" squad, but both of those rotations could be tough to break into.
 
Good luck, Vince. 
 
 
Back to the Game
 
So, how rare was the performance by Velasquez?  Well, there are lots of ways to evaluate the performance and produce lists of comparable achievements.  One simple way is to simply look at pitchers who accomplished the following:
 
  • Pitched a 9-inning complete game (eliminates "mere" 8-inning complete games, as well as those who went extra innings in achieving the results)
  • Pitched a shutout
  • Struck out 16 or more batters
  • Didn’t walk anyone
 
Yes, you can question the criteria as being too specific to Velasquez’s results (since this would eliminate anyone with "just" 15 strikeouts), and that certainly has some merit.  We’ll look at another data pull later that is a little more encompassing.  But, this is a starting point.
 
Using the "Game Index" tool on Baseball-reference.com, here’s the list of players that met all those criteria above (sorted by Bill’s Game Score measure):
 
Player
Date
Tm
Opp
Score
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
GSc
Kerry Wood
5/6/1998
CHC
HOU
2-0
9
1
0
0
0
20
105
Max Scherzer
10/3/2015
WSN
NYM
2-0
9
0
0
0
0
17
104
Roger Clemens
8/25/1998
TOR
KCR
3-0
9
3
0
0
0
18
99
Roger Clemens
9/18/1996
BOS
DET
4-0
9
5
0
0
0
20
97
Vincent Velasquez
4/14/2016
PHI
SDP
3-0
9
3
0
0
0
16
97
Dwight Gooden
9/12/1984
NYM
PIT
2-0
9
5
0
0
0
16
93
Randy Johnson
8/28/1998
HOU
PIT
2-0
9
7
0
0
0
16
89
 
A pretty good list.  Definitely some famous efforts….Kerry Wood’s dominant 20 K game, Max Scherzer’s late season near-perfect game last year, Roger Clemens’ 20 K game, etc.  Hard-throwing, dominant pitchers at the top of their games.  On the surface, at least, Velasquez’s performance is right up there with the others, and he allowed only 3 hits, fewer than Johnson, Gooden, and Clemens ’96 did.
 
Before proceeding…..there was another thing that inspired this article.  When I heard about Velasquez recording 16 K’s with zero walks, that combination made me think of this passage that I read many years ago.  See if you remember it as well:
 
"Signature Significance"
 
The following excerpt is from The Bill James 1985 Baseball Abstract, page 29, under the heading "Signature Significance" (The bold/italicized emphasis is my formatting, not Bill’s):
 
--Beginning of Excerpt--
 
"It seems strange to say, then, that there are separations of data in baseball that are more significant than baseball men think they are.  But in certain relatively rare cases of extreme performance, significant separations in data can occur in surprisingly small samples, including one game.  A perfect example would be the game in which Roger Clemens struck out 15 batters without walking anyone.  That game, in and of itself, presents credible, or "significant" evidence that Clemens is a pitcher of some quality.  Why?  Because a poor pitcher never (almost literally never) has such a game."
 
……Then, later in the excerpt, Bill states this:
 
"Strikeout to walk ratio is an excellent indicator of a pitcher’s ability to win, and pitcher who strikes out 15 and walks none in a game is almost certain to have a good strikeout to walk ratio.
 
We are in the habit of looking for direct significance; one game is never directly significant.  No one game makes a man a proven pitcher.  What small data samples can occasionally provide is indicative significance—the significance of the signature they bear."
 
--End of Excerpt--
 
Gee….has it really been over 30 years since Bill wrote that?  You may remember this as one of the 2 pieces he wrote under the Detroit Tigers section in that 1985 Abstract (written after the conclusion of the 1984 championship season for the Tigers), the other piece being the "informal" exercise comparing the ’84 Tigers, position-by-position, to the other great teams of that era (like the ’76 Reds, the ’73 A’s, the ’61 Yankees, etc.).  Which, by the way…..might make for another good idea for an article…an updated version of that exercise.   I’ll keep that one in mind….
 
I think one of the really impressive things about that passage was Bill’s observation and conclusion that Clemens’ 15K, zero walk effort in the prior year, by itself, was a strong indicator of his quality.  Keep in mind that Bill wrote this in 1985, after the ’84 season.  At the time he wrote that, Roger Clemens was only 22 years old, with a career record of 9-4 with a 4.32 ERA.  He had a good rookie year, and he was certainly a well-regarded prospect, having been drafted in the first round of the ’83 draft and having posted sub-2.00 ERA’s at every minor league stop along the way.  Still, this was written after 1984…..Clemens was still a year away from his breakout year of 1986.  It was a rather prescient observation for Bill to make at that time.
 
So, I was curious…..what if we used that 15K / 0 BB combination from the Clemens reference to see how often that has been achieved?  Here are all of the pitchers who accomplished that result.  In this case, there weren’t any restrictions put on the innings….it includes those who pitched fewer than 9 innings, as well as those who pitched into extra innings.  The only criteria were 15 or more strikeouts, and zero walks.  Again, using the Baseball-Reference.com Game Index tool, sorted by Game Score:
 
Player
Date
Tm
Opp
Rslt
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
GSc
Kerry Wood
5/6/1998
CHC
HOU
W 2-0
9
1
0
0
0
20
105
Max Scherzer
10/3/2015
WSN
NYM
W 2-0
9
0
0
0
0
17
104
Clayton Kershaw
6/18/2014
LAD
COL
W 8-0
9
0
0
0
0
15
102
Nolan Ryan
8/17/1990
TEX
CHW
W 1-0
10
3
0
0
0
15
101
Vida Blue
7/9/1971
OAK
CAL
W 1-0
11
7
0
0
0
17
100
Luis Tiant
7/3/1968
CLE
MIN
W 1-0
10
6
0
0
0
19
99
Roger Clemens
8/25/1998
TOR
KCR
W 3-0
9
3
0
0
0
18
99
Corey Kluber
5/13/2015
CLE
STL
W 2-0
8
1
0
0
0
18
98
Pedro Martinez
9/10/1999
BOS
NYY
W 3-1
9
1
1
1
0
17
98
Erik Bedard
7/7/2007
BAL
TEX
W 3-0
9
2
0
0
0
15
98
Pedro Martinez
5/12/2000
BOS
BAL
W 9-0
9
2
0
0
0
15
98
Van Mungo
9/29/1935
BRO
PHI
W 2-0
9
2
0
0
0
15
98
Randy Johnson
5/8/2001
ARI
CIN
W 4-3
9
3
1
1
0
20
97
Roger Clemens
9/18/1996
BOS
DET
W 4-0
9
5
0
0
0
20
97
Roger Clemens
4/29/1986
BOS
SEA
W 3-1
9
3
1
1
0
20
97
Vincent Velasquez
4/14/2016
PHI
SDP
W 3-0
9
3
0
0
0
16
97
Johan Santana
8/19/2007
MIN
TEX
W 1-0
8
2
0
0
0
17
95
Sam McDowell
5/1/1968
CLE
OAK
W 3-1
9
3
1
0
0
16
95
James Shields
10/2/2012
TBR
BAL
L 0-1
9
2
1
1
0
15
94
Dwight Gooden
9/12/1984
NYM
PIT
W 2-0
9
5
0
0
0
16
93
Pedro Martinez
7/23/2000
BOS
CHW
W 1-0
9
6
0
0
0
15
90
Randy Johnson
8/28/1998
HOU
PIT
W 2-0
9
7
0
0
0
16
89
Roger Clemens
7/12/1997
TOR
BOS
W 3-1
8
4
1
1
0
16
86
Mario Soto
8/17/1982
CIN
NYM
W 9-2
9
4
2
2
0
15
86
Pedro Martinez
5/7/1999
BOS
ANA
W 6-0
8
6
0
0
0
15
85
Roger Clemens
8/21/1984
BOS
KCR
W 11-1
9
7
1
1
0
15
84
Mark Prior
6/26/2003
CHC
MIL
L 3-5
8
4
2
2
0
16
82
Mike Mussina
9/24/2000
BAL
BOS
W 1-0
7
5
0
0
0
15
82
Chris Archer
6/2/2015
TBR
LAA
W 6-1
8
6
1
1
0
15
81
Curt Schilling
9/1/1997
PHI
NYY
W 5-1
8
7
1
1
0
16
80
Mark Langston
5/10/1988
SEA
TOR
W 4-2
9
8
2
2
0
16
79
Frank Tanana
6/21/1975
CAL
TEX
W 4-2
9
9
2
2
0
17
78
Dwight Gooden
9/17/1984
NYM
PHI
L 1-2
8
7
2
1
0
16
78
Randy Johnson
6/30/1999
ARI
CIN
L 0-2
8
7
2
2
0
17
77
Michael Pineda
5/10/2015
NYY
BAL
W 6-2
7
6
1
1
0
16
77
Sid Fernandez
7/14/1989
NYM
ATL
L 2-3
8
6
3
3
0
16
74
Sterling Hitchcock
8/29/1998
SDP
MON
L 1-3
8
6
3
3
0
15
73
Randy Johnson
6/14/1993
SEA
KCR
W 6-3
8
6
3
3
0
15
73
John Smoltz
4/10/2005
ATL
NYM
L 1-6
7.1
8
2
2
0
15
69
Randy Johnson
6/24/1997
SEA
OAK
L 1-4
9
11
4
4
0
19
68
Gary Nolan
6/7/1967
CIN
SFG
L 3-4
7.2
8
3
3
0
15
66
 
As you can see, some of those were less "dominant" than others.  As you get towards the bottom of the list, you start to see pitchers who didn’t even reach 8 innings (which makes the K’s more impressive, although it makes the other things like walks, hits, and runs less impressive) and you also start to see more hits and runs given up.  Still, they met the "controlling the strike zone" criteria.
 
There have been 40 games that meet that criteria, achieved by 29 different pitchers.  Here’s the list by pitcher, including the number of games that each made the list:
 
Name
# of Times
Roger Clemens
5
Randy Johnson
5
Pedro Martinez
4
Dwight Gooden
2
Chris Archer
1
Erik Bedard
1
Vida Blue
1
Sid Fernandez
1
Sterling Hitchcock
1
Clayton Kershaw
1
Corey Kluber
1
Mark Langston
1
Sam McDowell
1
Van Mungo
1
Mike Mussina
1
Gary Nolan
1
Michael Pineda
1
Mark Prior
1
Nolan Ryan
1
Johan Santana
1
Max Scherzer
1
Curt Schilling
1
James Shields
1
John Smoltz
1
Mario Soto
1
Frank Tanana
1
Luis Tiant
1
Vincent Velasquez
1
Kerry Wood
1
 
So, certainly doing this multiple times is very indicative of quality, as Clemens and Johnson did it 5 times each, Pedro did it 4 times, and Gooden twice.  
 
How about the others?  Well, the 4 mentioned above (Clemens, Johnson, Pedro, and Gooden) have all won Cy Young awards during their careers, as have Vida Blue, Max Scherzer, John Smoltz, Johan Santana, Corey Kluber, and Clayton Kershaw
 
Others?  Nolan Ryan is in the Hall of Fame, while Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina are strong candidates, and Luis Tiant is a good candidate to make it someday.  Obviously, high quality is present among this group.
 
Who does that leave?
 
Frank Tanana and Mark Langston had some similarities.   Tanana’s career was longer and he won a lot more games, but they were both lefties, both around 6’2", 180, both pitched 8 seasons for the Angels, both had seasons early in their careers where they led the AL in strikeouts, both had career rWARs of between 50-60.  Tanana finished as high as 3rd in the Cy Young balloting, Langston as high as 2nd.   I’d say Tanana was ultimately more successful, but they both were certainly high quality pitchers.
 
Sam McDowell is kind of in that mold too…..another hard-throwing lefty, led the league in strikeouts many times, finished as high as 3rd in the Cy Young.  In fact, Langston is on McDowell’s top 10 comp list on Baseball-reference.com. 
 
To a lesser degree Sid Fernandez was in that mold too.  His career wasn’t as accomplished as the other 3 lefties just mentioned, but he still finished as high as 7th in the Cy Young, and led the NL 3 times in fewest H/9.
 
If you look on El Sid’s top 10 comp list, you see none other than Mario Soto.  Soto was a terrific pitcher, a fact that was at least partially obscured by pitching on some truly bad Reds teams.  Despite the lack of support, he went 71-50, 3.05 from 1980 to 1984, and finished with a 2nd, a 5th, a 6th, and a 9th place finish in various Cy Young balloting.  Over that 5 year period, he was probably as good a pitcher as anyone other than Steve Carlton, probably about even with Dave Stieb and Fernando Valenzuela.
 
A decade or so before Soto, the Reds had another young star.  Gary Nolan was unquestionably a "quality" pitcher, from his sparkling debut as a 19-year when he led the NL in K/9 to several years later when he morphed into more of a control artist who didn’t strike out that many.  Injuries basically cut his career potential in half, but when he was healthy, he was awfully good.  He finished as high as 5th in the Cy Young.
 
Of course, Gary Nolan looked like Nolan Ryan in terms of longevity when compared to those 2 star-crossed Cubbie teammates, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, both of whom made the list, about 5 years apart.  They were quite the duo in 2003…..they were both All-Stars, Wood led the NL in K’s and fewest H/9, while Prior went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, and was 3rd in the Cy Young, and the Cubs made the playoffs where they ultimately ran afoul of the Marlins and the Bartman incident.  Prior was only 22, Wood still only 26.  The possibilities seemed endless, and although their careers didn’t pan out as anticipated as they both struggled with injuries, there’s no doubt that they were high quality pitchers.
 
James Shields, Chris Archer, and Michael Pineda are all still active players.  Shields, at 34, of course has been around much longer than the other 2, and has had a pretty nice career, placing as high as 3rd in the Cy Young balloting. 
 
Archer and Pineda, both 27, are regarded as very talented pitchers who have their moments, including Archer placing 5th in last year’s Cy Young balloting, but a lot of their final stories have yet to be written.  They both made this list last year, within a month of each other.
 
That leaves us with the following:
Erik Bedard
Sterling Hitchcock
Van Mungo
 
Let’s start with Van Mungo, probably better known by his full name, Van Lingle Mungo.  Now, that’s a name!  If you get some free time and feel in the mood for a good combination of bossa nova mixed with baseball nostalgia, pull up the song "Van Lingle Mungo" on YouTube. 
 
Mungo’s 15K/0 BB game stands out on this list because of when he pitched his gem.  He threw it in 1935, and then it was another 32 years before the next occurrence (Gary Nolan in ’67). 
 
In addition to that, though, Mungo also did it in a year when he only struck out 143 and walked 90 (although he did lead the league in K/9 innings).  Strikeouts were much less common then….about 60% fewer K/9 than today’s standards.  He pitched his gem in his last start of the season (on the last day of the season, in the first game of a double header), it was the only time that season that he started a game and went more than 5 innings where he didn’t walk anyone, and he only had one other start that year where he struck out more than 10.  He was unquestionably a quality pitcher, a 3-time All-Star who, in various seasons, led the league in innings, strikeouts, shutouts, K/9 innings (3 times) and FIP (2 times), but it honestly was kind of a fluky game for him.
 
Erik Bedard might not strike everyone as a "quality" pitcher, but for a couple of years there with Baltimore he was very desirable, going 28-16 in 2006 & 2007, finishing 5th in the Cy Young balloting one year.  After ’07, the Orioles traded him to Seattle, where, among others, they obtained Adam Jones, for which Baltimore is eternally grateful.   He didn’t turn out to be a great pitcher, but over those couple of years, you could make a case that he was a top-10 pitcher.
 
Finally, Sterling Hitchcock.  He’s probably the "least quality" pitcher on here, although he had his moments, highlighted by going 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA for San Diego in the 1998 postseason.
 
By the way, what do you get if you relax the criteria to 14 or more strikeouts (and still keep walks at zero)?  The results basically double, as it includes an additional 43 instances.  Some of the same pitchers already named appear at the 14 K / 0 BB level, such as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Johan Santana, but it also pulls in such notables as Tom Seaver, Fergie Jenkins, Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw, Jim Bunning, Urban Shocker, Mickey Lolich, and Mike Scott
 
Yu Darvish has already had 3 games of 14 K’s with 0 walks.  The two best games that had 14 K’s with zero walks were the perfect games tossed by Matt Cain in 2012 and Sandy Koufax in 1965.  Two other interesting results from this group were the 1-hitter from Bobby Witt, who generally had control issues and wouldn’t be expected to have too many games with zero walks, and Terry Mulholland, who was a good control pitcher but not much of a strikeout artist.  He pitched his 14/0 gem in 1993, and he only had 3 games that year where he had more than 6 strikeouts – he had an 8, a 9, and a 14.
 
So What About Vincent?
 
So, what does this all indicate?  I do think the list of pitchers having games like this bodes well for Velasquez.  While there are a handful of starters mentioned that may not fit everyone’s description of a quality pitcher, it’s still full of players who went on to fine careers.  Not 100% of them, of course, and certainly injuries derailed a few, but it’s a pretty compelling list.
 
One final word of potential caution, though, and that is that we’ve seen 5 of these games in the past 12 months:  Pineda, Kluber, Archer, Scherzer, and now Velasquez.  One thing that is undeniable is that strikeouts have been on the rise, and continue to rise each year.  For each of the last 8 years, strikeouts have gone up.  In 2015, we saw 7.7 K/9 innings, a new record.  In 2016 so far, it’s up to 8.2.   Now, it might not stay there, but basically the forces in the game have resulted in strikeouts continuing to rise.  In addition K/BB ratio’s over the last few years have been at their highest levels since the 1880’s, when very few walks occurred.
 
So, the conditions of the game are such that we may start to see more of these extreme high K / low BB games. When Clemens pitched that 15K / 0 BB that Bill referenced from 1984, K’s/9 innings in Major League Baseball were at 5.4.   This year, it’s 8.2, more than 50% higher. 
 
I still think it was a remarkable performance by Velasquez, and even though he followed it up with a disappointing effort the next time out (4 1/3 IP, 5 runs), there were some good signs even in that effort.  Only 2 of the runs were earned, and he struck out 4 and, once again, issued zero walks.  He now owns a 29-3 K/BB ratio after 3 starts and 19 1/3 IP, an encouraging sign from someone who has struggled some with his control prior to this year.  No, I don’t expect him to continue to roll along with a roughly 10:1 K/BB ratio….that’s likely not sustainable for him….but if he truly has harnessed his control, if he is starting to own the strike zone, then he undoubtedly will have some success. 
 
Speaking of K/BB, below is the list of pitchers who have had K/BB of 8:1 or better in a single season, excluding a few pitchers from the 1880’s (Jim Whitney, George Bradley, Henry Boyle, James Burke) who also achieved it:
 
Player
K/BB
Year
Phil Hughes
11.6
2014
Bret Saberhagen
11.0
1994
Cliff Lee
10.3
2010
Curt Schilling
9.6
2002
Pedro Martinez
8.9
2000
Greg Maddux
8.9
1997
Pedro Martinez
8.5
1999
Ben Sheets
8.3
2004
Max Scherzer
8.1
2015
 
Another interesting list is the pitchers who had the most times leading the league in K/BB.  It’s a good one, all Hall of Famers except for Halladay and Schilling, and they’re both likely to make it at some point:
 
Name
Time Led League
Cy Young
11
Walter Johnson
9
Christy Mathewson
9
Lefty Grove
8
Dazzy Vance
8
Roy Halladay
5
Carl Hubbell
5
Fergie Jenkins
5
Robin Roberts
5
Curt Schilling
5
 
It’s hard to know what the future holds for Vincent.  Despite the caveats, I look forward to watching him develop to see what the rest of his career holds for him.  If he can continue to control the strike zone, you have to like his chances, even if he’s currently on a rebuilding team. 
 
In fact, I’m intrigued by all the young pitchers the Phillies have assembled…..Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff (who came over in the Hamels trade), Velasquez…..those are some talented young arms.  It was only 5 years ago that the Phillies won over 100 games and had that pitching staff featuring Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt that had some people wondering if that could be the greatest rotation of all time.  It disintegrated pretty quickly after assembling that rotation, but it looks like there’s the potential for a pretty good young rotation in place now.  They’re still more promise than anything….but there is some good potential there.
 
So, taking it all into account, and in the spirit of alliterative topics such as Vincent Velasquez and Signature Significance…….I wonder if maybe, rather than true Signature Significance (which, after all, is a term that Bill coined), we could label Velasquez’s performance as something else?  How about….. "Indicative Impression"? 
 
 
 
 

COMMENTS (16 Comments, most recent shown first)

Brock Hanke
The all-alliterative team would be tough to beat. I think I'd prefer to start DeCinces and Jackson over Gaetti and Heilmann, but realistically, who cares?
2:56 AM Apr 26th
 
DMBBHF
All,

Thanks for all the comments.

Steven & OBS,

Since you both brought up Van Gogh, I have to admit that I overlooked him among famous V.V.'s in history. I thought Velasquez had at least a chance to catch Vivian Vance and Vince Vaughn.....but there's no way he'll catch Van Gogh.

Tangotiger,

Thanks for the link. I didn't realize Mungo had a streak like that.

pob14,

I think we'll let Blyleven stay on the team, since it's at least a spinoff of his middle name. I was mainly trying to avoid true nicknames.


5:10 PM Apr 25th
 
pob14
Does Rik Aalbert Blyleven really qualify? :-)
1:21 PM Apr 25th
 
OldBackstop
I liked this article a lot.

A few comments:

1. In terms of whether I should grab Velasquez in my roto league...the fact that there was 32 years without one of these, and then five in the last year, makes me wonder if the game has changed so much that this is no longer an ear tag of greatness.

2. I would be interested to see the pitch counts in these games. I would assume it is not rare today to see pitchers coming out after seven without any BBs and decent Ks....maybe they would have needed extra innings or a nice consecutive run to get to 15, but they aren't going to get the chance. In fact, in the last game I watched, Steven Matz came out after 6.1 with 8 Ks and no walks.

3. I think saying "Van Lingle Mungo" would get you slapped on a first date.

4. What did Vincent Van Gogh ever do to you?
9:23 AM Apr 25th
 
Rich Dunstan
Sorry, shouldn't have used Bell or Biancalana. Bob Bailey at third, Bailor at short. Eliminating stock nicknames like Bob or Bill would be too strict.
5:02 PM Apr 24th
 
Rich Dunstan
Alliteration: You can make quite a team just from BB. Bob Boone or Bob Brenly at catcher, Bill Buckner at first (can we use Bobby Bonilla there?), Bret Boone 2b, Buddy Bell 3b, Barry and Bobby Bonds flanking Bret Butler in the outfield, rotation of Bert Blyleven, Bob Buhl, Bud Black, Britt Burns, strong bench, Bruce Bochy manager. We're stuck with Buddy Biancalana or Bob Bailor at short, and have to use Bobby Bolin as relief ace when he'd be a better fifth starter, but I think the team would be pretty competitive.
4:58 PM Apr 24th
 
evanecurb
Juaquin Juandujar.

You're right. Alliteration makes most names better. My parents should have named me Nicholas. Or maybe Nancy.
10:46 AM Apr 24th
 
evanecurb
Va Va Va Voom!

If you're a fan of alliteration, check out the prologue of Phillip Roth's [i] The Great American Novel [i]. An orgy of alliteration, to great comic effect.
10:44 AM Apr 24th
 
tangotiger
Thanks for highlighting Mungo. He had 7 K to 7 straight batters:

www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO193606251.shtml


9:56 AM Apr 24th
 
RonMock
Gary Gaetti is going to have to move over for Manny Machado pretty soon.
12:56 AM Apr 24th
 
Steven Goldleaf
And of course Velasquez is the surname of a great Spanish oil painter, as Vincent (Vangogh) is the first name of a great Dutch oil painter. I wonder what Vincent Velasquez's painting look like?
6:15 PM Apr 23rd
 
NutanaVin
Another double letter player (actually triple) Ugueth Urtain Urbina. He was a middle reliever with the Expos.
3:50 PM Apr 23rd
 
DMBBHF
SteveN,

Yep, you're right about Minoso. Good catch. I stand corrected.

I've edited the team. Minoso is replaced by Bobby Bonds.

Thanks,
Dan
2:43 PM Apr 23rd
 
chuck
Thanks for the article, Dan. I will watch Velasquez with interest, going forward.
My favorite fictional VV name- Vincent Vega (Pulp Fiction).
2:42 PM Apr 23rd
 
SteveN
You say that the double initial team does not have nicknames. I think that you will find that Orestes Minoso's nickname was Minnie.
2:33 PM Apr 23rd
 
a2colin
Just a small additional observation vis-a-vis Mrs. Robinson. I don't think Mantle had nearly as good a tag line as 'Joltin' Joe' regardless of how well the syllables fit.
1:58 PM Apr 23rd
 
 
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