FanGraphs Q&A and Sunday Notes: The Best Quotes of 2022

In 2022, I once again had an opportunity to interview numerous people within the game. Many of their words were shared in my Sunday Notes column, while others came via an assortment of Q&As, feature stories, and the Talks Hitting series. Here is a selection of the best quotes from this year’s conversations, with the bolded lines linking to the pieces they were excerpted from.


“I’d say Mike Trout is underrated. For one, he’s coming off an injury. Two, he’s playing with a two-way player who everybody goo-goo and ga-gas about. I’ll say this about Clayton Kershaw as well: When you do it for so long, people kind of get bored. It just becomes ho-hum.” — Dallas Keuchel, Chicago White Sox pitcher

“It was like, ‘Oh, this guy isn’t going to turn into a pumpkin. He’s real. There’s substance to this, he’s not just this novelty act with the shimmy and the shake, and the drop down.’ There are objective measures that say this guy is a high-level starter. Now it’s, ‘OK, how do we continue to build on that?’” — Matt Blake, New York Yankees pitching coach

“It’s part of what led us to George Kirby. He had very good stuff on draft day that turned into elite stuff once he got into our system… We feel like we can take good stuff and turn it into great stuff. We feel like we can take average stuff and turn it into plus stuff. It’s hard to look at a pitcher who only has stuff and say we’re going to make him into ‘a guy.’” — Jerry Dipoto, Seattle Mariners President of Baseball Operations

“Then I got over here to the Mariners and it was, ‘We don’t care if it moves one centimeter down, we just want you to sweep it as far as you can possibly sweep it.’ I said, ‘OK, that’s interesting. I haven’t been trying to do that, but I throw across my body, so it seems like something I could do.’”: — Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners pitcher

“Philosophically, we’re not only trying to get talented players. We’re trying to get the right DNA, the right mix of guys from a makeup standpoint. That’s really important to me… It’s hard to quantify, but I think it has a huge impact. The room makes a big difference.” — Perry Minasian, Los Angeles Angels GM

“I don’t think we’re stagnant. We have a belief that we think is strong, and if you ask anybody inside our organization, they will tell you the direction we’re going. We might not be up on top of the mountains screaming it out, but we know what direction we’re heading in.” — Bill Schmidt, Colorado Rockies GM

“I could try different things that weren’t very popular, or that nobody had thought about. I needed that wider berth, and the support that I got from Andrew [Friedman] at that particular time. So, thank God for unanswered prayers. I wanted the Red Sox job, but it was so much better for me to start out with the Devil Rays.” — Joe Maddon, former manager

“What we’re going to see — what we’re starting to see now — is that a lot of teams are utilizing KinaTrax [and] Hawk-Eye, giving them an ability to really analyze the biomechanics of a swing. We’re getting to the point now where we’re not going to be attacking hitters, we’re going to be attacking swing profiles.” — Shelley Duncan, Chicago White Sox analytics coordinator

“It’s a mutual and symbiotic relationship, and we’re not being reactive after the season starts. We’ve already downloaded in spring training what a guy’s movement signature is, what he does best. We’ve identified these things and put them all in a bucket. What is his bias when he’s left alone? Does he flatten out more, or is he more on the VBA [vertical bat angle] spectrum?” — Donnie Ecker, Texas Rangers offensive coordinator

“We have a thing with the Rangers called ‘train dirty to play clean.’ We would do a lot of stuff where it was an offset angle with a fastball, buried underneath your hands, and it was, ‘Can you hit this ball in the air with true backspin and not get around it?’ It took me a long time to figure out how to do that.” — Josh Jung, Texas Rangers infielder

“The key for me was keeping… as I land, having my hands and my torso rotate into that front side, and having no zero. We call it a give, or a negative — kind of a pull-out that way. So pretty much once I land, my head stays dead still and I rotate. I think that’s the fastest way to get to that inside pitch. “ — Trevor Story, Boston Red Sox infielder

“A lot of people look at hitting as needing to learn to be really fast. It’s, ‘speed, speed, bat speed; OK, wait for that off-speed and then be really fast.’ Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. It sounds like it works, but it won’t.” — Doug Latta, hitting instructor

“When we were in Cleveland, and the Red Sox swept the Guardians, we were waiting at the bus — it was just a few broadcasters standing there — and here comes Tito on his scooter, wearing a t-shirt, flip-flops, and shorts. He pulls up and just drops a, ‘Man did that suck.’ Then he tools off into the sunset. That’s Tito.” — Dave O’Brien, Boston Red Sox broadcaster

“I don’t look at my BABIP over small samples, because that’s something that tends to correct. “But I do over larger ones. I have a very low FIP (1.97). If I have a very low batting-average-against, I want to know if I’m earning these these outs or if I’m getting lucky. If I’m getting lucky, that’s a trend I can expect to change.” — Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves pitcher

“I guess you could say that I can be very mechanical in my thinking, but sometimes it’s better to clear your mind and just play. I like to be more of a feel guy. At the same time, my mind has always been into numbers and math.” — Jordan Lawlar, Arizona Diamondbacks prospect

“It is hard to compare them, but I’m going to be biased and say yes. They’re very similar. I want to be respectful of the kids that walked into Boston’s World Championships, but I feel like we have that level of talent.” — Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks manager

“The next year, Willie got traded to the Tigers and I got traded to the Padres. Both of us threw a screwball as our best pitch. He won the Cy Young Award and I had arguably the best year of my career. I had 10 saves, but was mostly setting up Rich Gossage. Then Willie and I met in the World Series.” — Craig Lefferts, former big-league reliever

“I was actually talking to Walt Jocketty the other day about this. Our suite at the Winter Meetings that year was directly across the hall from the Tigers, and there were a couple of players that we talked about…. Mike Squires in particular, really liked Eugenio Suárez. We had some heated debates about him versus some other guys, and he’s the one that won out.” — Nick Krall, Cincinnati Reds GM

“Ideally, I’m flattening out quicker, because you have less time. The perceived velocity at the top of the zone is always going to be higher than it is at the bottom, so you’ve got to make up that time. With the bottom of the zone, you can let it get a little deeper.” — Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles catcher

“So the goal, in terms of hit-collecting, is to hit the ball at proper angles. That’s first and foremost. If you combine that with exit speed, the outcome is going to be the best outcome. But if you’re only doing it with exit speed, and not combining that with good angles, what’s going to happen is you’re going to have a bunch of hard outs.” — Robert Van Scoyoc, Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach

“Another thing I remember is walking into the [indoor] cage and the lights were off. He was hitting off the tee. I asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘Well, I figure if I can hit when it’s hard to see, when the game starts, it will be easy for me to see.’” — Hunter Mense, Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach

“I see it all the time. We’ve seen failure after failure, because of the fact that the strength of the player is eroded by the conceptual thought that analytics will make it better.” — Scott Boras, agent

“The guy that sticks out right now is Duran, from Minnesota. One of our players came into the dugout after facing him and said, ‘That guy just broke my eyes.’ He’d never seen it before. The pitch is disgusting.” — Bobby Wilson, Texas Rangers catching coach

“You have to either make an eye adjustment on where you’re trying to swing, or you need to have a swing adjustment on how you’re trying to hit that pitch. The [bat] path you take is going to be different for those two pitches.” — Alex Bregman, Houston Astros infielder

“Walks are a byproduct of not getting pitches, or you’re fouling off tough pitches and having a good at-bat; you’re working the count. Some people who have never played the game fixate on walks so much that they don’t realize every hitter goes up to the plate thinking ‘hit.’ And you have to think ‘hit.’ You see the ball, and then you react.” — Kevin Youkilis, former big-league infielder

“I kind of just went up there and was free-swinging almost. I was a young kid who didn’t really know anything. Since then, I’ve come up with a routine and am more educated on what I need to do at the plate. I have a plan. Whether it works or not is up the baseball gods.” — Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers outfielder

“For instance, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be a Joey Votto type, or a Juan Soto type, regardless of how much I study. But I do think that if you get into a good position consistently, you’re going to give your eyes and your brain the best chance to make a decision.” — Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels outfielder

“I don’t want to say this in a jaded way, because there are guys with great pitches, but sometimes we get caught up in putting a Stuff+ number on a pitch. That’s not what’s important. Stuff+ doesn’t equal outs. I think what’s important is how your pitches work together.” — Cal Quantrill, Cleveland Guardians pitcher

“For instance, [Andrés] Muñoz for Seattle. I’d be interested to see why he throws his slider as much as he does when he throws [his fastball] 102. Is there a reason? If he throws his slider 30 percent of the time, does that makes his fastball more effective than if he threw it more or less than 30 percent of the time?” — Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians pitcher

“I have a seam-shifted wake sinker, and the slider is seam-shifted as well — but it’s double seam-shifted. Both of the seams are doing it. That’s kind of the idea behind the whirly. They wanted to get some vertical to it.” — Clarke Schmidt, New York Yankees pitcher

“Looking from the outside, we don’t specifically know what the Yankees are doing. It’s hard to quantify that. But we trust our own scouting, and our internal numbers to evaluate. We obviously saw Waldichuk and Sears in college, so we had history with them, as well.” — David Forst, Oakland Athletics GM

“More hop. Yeah. My average spin axis for a four-seam fastball is 12:45. That’s something we really pay a lot of attention to, to induce vertical break. When I throw a bad heater, it’s like 1:15-1:30 — it kind of runs like a two-seam. That’s not what I’m after. I’m all for vertical break.” — Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles prospect

“Apparently I throw a gyroball, or gyro slider. I don’t know what that means. I don’t really care. The way I look at it, you’ve got a good slider and a bad slider. If they hit it, it’s a bad slider. If they don’t hit it, it’s a good slider.” — Andrew Chafin, Detroit Tigers pitcher

“Culturally and fundamentally, there will be a lot of similarities, because it’s just baseball and how you run an organization. That said, we want to be a little more open-minded to different ways of improving our roster, and utilizing our roster. Player acquisition… If it makes our team better, then we’ll be transactional.” — J.J. Picollo, Kansas City Royals GM

“I expect that when we get to spring training we’re going to have a different roster. We need to win, and we feel we have pieces here to win, but we also need to do the right things as far as rebuilding our club to give us the best chance to do that.” — Chaim Bloom, Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer

“He’s very good at baseball. Looking at our matchup sheet of how we want to maneuver through the bullpen, there is a lot of red next to [Rafael Devers’s] name. That means, ‘good luck.’” — Oliver Marmol, St. Louis Cardinals manager

“Guys want to make an impact, so they worry about results. ‘I’ve got to get my hits, I want to have a good batting average.’ That’s the absolute devil when you come over. You get sucked in. You drift into that headspace of trying to see results, and it’s tough to climb out of that.” — Michael Fransoso, Seattle Mariner MiLB hitting coach

“I know the foundation. Spin direction, spin efficiency, where stuff plays… but it’s hard to chase the analytics on pitches… I feel that if you focus too much on the analytics, you can kind of dig yourself into a hole, because you’ll never be satisfied with where they’re at.” — Beau Brieske, Detroit Tigers pitcher

“I think any good artist is trying to be as scientific as he possibly can. I think we enjoy what we do in scouting and player development because it is so hard to solve. In baseball… again, you’re dealing with human beings.” — Mike Elias, Baltimore Orioles GM

“I haven’t sat there and said, ‘OK, in 2021 we had X number, and in 2023 we’ll have X’. To me, it comes down to the coverage we have, the looks we have, and do we have enough of those looks? If we’re short, we’ll reevaluate. This summer we thought, ‘We don’t have enough looks on the Cape.” — Alex Anthopoulos, Atlanta Braves GM

“Say a scout goes to a game and you don’t have any hits, and you don’t really show off too much. They don’t come back to see your good games. But let’s say you’re showing off crazy bat speed and crazy athleticism. Even if you go 0-for-4, they see the potential. They see what you could be.” — Max Muncy, Oakland Athletics prospect

“The point you bring up — him being viewed as [an overdraft at 17th overall] — is something we had to take into account. We felt like we were some of the only ones seeing what we were seeing, and there is some risk with that. The wisdom of the masses.” — Paul Toboni, Boston Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting

“The Cardinals were pretty dead set, although I don’t think they exactly knew what I could do… But I mean, it’s so hard to be a two-way. As far as what Shohei does… I would probably be a closer if I did it. Throwing from short and then hopping on the mound is a lot. But again, I think they were looking at me seriously as a pitcher.” — Masyn Winn, St. Louis Cardinals prospect

“He’s not that big of a guy, but his arm is really impressive. The 100.5 [mph that he was clocked at from shortstop in the Futures Game] is definitely not his hardest throw, which might surprise some people. I feel like he’s been up to 103.” — Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals prospect

“I think that’s the key to my fastball. It’s the release height and approach angle. You don’t see guys coming from where I do all the time. I think being able to get low in my legs really helps out. That’s always been the way I’ve thrown a baseball.” — Kyle Harrison, San Francisco Giants prospect

“I used to try to throw like Tim Lincecum a little bit when I was younger… I was a Giants fan and he was a beast. But the shoulder — the slot for the shoulder — has always felt pretty similar. I think it’s just keeping my head a little bit more still and staying on line longer, which gets me out front. I think that comes from water polo, too.” — Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins pitcher

“[Luis Arraez] can pick up a soccer ball and start juggling it. He can do things with his body; he knows where his body is in space, very, very well. And the swing-and-miss is exceptional. The way he uses the whole field is exceptional.” — Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins manager

“I hesitate to use these names, because I’m not saying that he’ll be as good of a hitter as Rod Carew or Tony Gwynn. Nobody is that good, especially if we’re talking about batting titles… But from a mechanics standpoint, what Arraez has the ability to do is different than most players nowadays and is more like Rodney and Tony than anyone else I can think of.” — Roy Smalley, Minnesota Twins broadcaster

“Two years in a row, the Tigers had to play a deciding Game Five in Oakland, and those crowds were the loudest I’ve heard in the postseason. That place was crazy. It was like a Raiders game. His combined line for the two games was 17 innings, no runs, six hits, two walks, and 21 strikeouts. I mean, who do you want on the mound in a big game? The answer is Justin Verlander.” — Dan Dickerson, Detroit Tigers broadcaster

“Perfect into the ninth, he had Roberto Pérez in a two-strike hole with one out and plunked him in the toe. It was such a stunning moment that Rodón literally laughed. He then buckled down and retired the next two batters for a no-hitter. His game score was 94 [with] seven strikeouts and zero walks. His stuff was electric all night, and I am not sure it would have mattered who faced him. He was that good.” — Len Kasper, Chicago White Sox broadcaster

“I caught many guys with good curveballs, but none were better than Gregg Olson’s. I caught him a lot, and there were times you could literally hear it spinning coming to the plate. It was as 12–6 of a curveball that you could possibly see… Nowadays, you’re seeing a little tighter breaking ball, sometimes at the top of the zone by design.” — Bob Melvin, San Diego Padres manager

“Hitters were swinging at pitches that were landing in front of the plate, and they were taking balls that were painted in the zone. His first pitch of the game, he would throw at 161 kilometers, which is about 100-101 [mph], and he carried that velocity really well. He’s a beast. Senga was probably the best ace I saw over there.” — Matt Moore, Texas Rangers and former NPB pitcher

“Talent-wise, [Roki Sasaki] is maybe best-best. His [velocity] is really good, and his splitter is also very good, but as a pitcher, I think Yamamoto and Senga are better.” — Masataka Yoshida, Boston Red Sox outfielder

“I’m not covered in beer right now. First hit, first homer, first whatever — in my case, first win — that’s what happens. Today it was just, ‘Congrats on the win.’” — Hoby Milner, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher

“What I thought of when I hit it was my nana. She passed away toward the end of last season — she was 93 — and growing up she’d always give me a hundred bucks for every home run I hit. She loved it when I hit home runs, and did that for every league I played in.” — Michael Massey, Kansas City Royals infielder

“You have a small ball, and a really small hole that’s 500 yards away. You’re supposed to put it in there within five shots. I mean, you almost need to be perfect. At the end of the day, hitting a golf ball is harder than hitting a baseball.” — Nick Loftin, Kansas City Royals prospect

“Basketball I didn’t really take too seriously. I just liked to shoot from half court. That wouldn’t have lasted as a career, so I threw that out the window. I mean, I was Curry before Curry! But no, I would play basketball to be a shooter.” — Michael Harris II, Atlanta Braves outfielder

“It was like the quarterback who they don’t tell is going to start until they flip the coin. I had no time to be nervous. When you’re going to do this for the first time, you’re going to over-prepare, but I didn’t have a chance to do that. I didn’t even have a scorebook with me.” — Vince Cotroneo, Oakland Athletics broadcaster

“Troy Polamalu is my second cousin — my mom used to babysit him, and I used to watch games with his dad — so I was always a Steelers fan growing up… So yeah, I definitely have some ties to the city. I always tell people that I would love to have somewhat of a Polamalu-esque career in baseball.” — Blake Sabol, Pittsburgh Pirates prospect

“Back then, in Cuba, you could go a longer way playing baseball than you could soccer. I realized that if I wanted to be professional athlete and make a little bit more money, baseball would be it. But who knows, had I been born in Brazil, I probably would have stuck with soccer.” — Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder

“Tell Randy Arozarena that I challenge him to play soccer. Any time he wants, I’ll be ready. But talk is just talk. That one day we play, then we can talk about who is better.” — Victor Mesa Jr., Miami Marlins prospect

“The Barcelona Way” is one I really enjoyed. It’s about Pep Guardiola, who is now the Manchester City manager. It’s about developing a culture and creating feedback loops for your players… The Premier League is also on the cusp of sports development, so there is a lot to learn from reading about how they do things. There is a lot to learn from reading in general.” — Ryan Fuller, Baltimore Orioles hitting coach

“I decided to write a book about [the dog’s] mindset and the environmental damage — the plastic pollution— the binky destruction was doing. He turns away from that Binky Bandit alter ego and sacrifices for the common good.” — Brent Suter, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher

“He even has a declaration on the wall from Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and Louie Armstrong. It’s signed by all three of them. It’s this personal little thing where they wanted to recognize him as ‘The Greatest.’ And he is. Willie [Mays] is a wonderful, wonderful guy.” — Dave Raymond, Texas Rangers broadcaster

“I’ve got that picture framed in my office at home, signed by Sid Bream. Francisco Cabrera base hit to left, Barry Bonds comes up throwing, Mike LaValliere catches it but can’t reach him at home. Sid was like the slowest guy in the whole league, with a big old giant knee brace on, chugging along. That’s my favorite baseball memory.” — Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher

“No shot at all. My 10-year-old thinks I can pitch forever, but I don’t really know how much I have left. I’ll leave that in God’s hands. I can say that I’ve been enjoying my days… I mean, the results, good and bad, are all a bonus now. I’m getting to do this in the big leagues. I’m not on the couch.” — Sergio Romo, Seattle Mariners pitcher

“I love watching it, too. And I love doing it. There is nothing like standing out there in front of 50,000 and throwing a ‘shutty.’ Pitching is fun.” — Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher

“A question that can be interesting is: ‘What is your why?’ By that I mean, ‘Why do you play?’ Baseball is my love. Baseball is my passion… I’ve caught the bug. I’m obsessed with baseball.” — Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder

“We’ve covered some good topics. And I definitely like the ‘Is it more art or science?’ question. I like that question quite a bit. For me, it’s both. It kind of has to be both.” — Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians pitcher

“I loved the notion of the notes column, and how Dick Young used it… I think you have to have, as you do, a lot of passion for it. For me, it was one of the most fun things. And the advantage I had was that nobody else was really doing them when I started it. It was only in newspapers — it wasn’t online — and I would hear from people, from around the country, who’d read it in the Globe.” — Peter Gammons, legend

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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1 year ago

“What we’re going to see — what we’re starting to see now — is that a lot of teams are utilizing KinaTrax [and] Hawk-Eye, giving them an ability to really analyze the biomechanics of a swing. We’re getting to the point now where we’re not going to be attacking hitters, we’re going to be attacking swing profiles.” — Shelley Duncan, Chicago White Sox analytics coordinator

Just skimming through and this one wildly jumped out at me. Seems massively important to The Future of the game…also brought to mind Dave Roberts mentioning the increased demand for “turnkey players”…Interesting stuff, something about the homogenization of individuality in the 21st century or something maybe…Also likely more useful for building baseball pitching staffs of The Future?