FanGraphs Q&A: The Best Quotes of 2011

Since joining FanGraphs eight months ago, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a number of people within baseball. Many of them had interesting things to say. So continuing a tradition that began when I was at Baseball Prospectus, I’m ending the year with some of the highlights. Without further ado, I give you The Best Quotes from FanGraphs Q&A 2011:


“I don’t try to strike out people, but sometimes they swing and miss.” — Felix Hernandez, May 2011

“Hitting is simple. We make it complicated. We look into mechanics and a lot of different things that could be wrong, instead of simplifying everything by staying back and letting our hands go to the ball.” — Adrian Gonzalez, May 2011

“As a hitter, every time you execute your plan, you’re going to get good results. Even if it’s a line-drive out, it’s still a good result. You can’t think, ‘I want a hit, I want a hit.’ You can’t be result-minded. What you want is to hit line drives and barrel the ball.” — Marlon Byrd, May 2011

“Then I’m going to bust heaters right by him, straight Bugs Bunny style: whap, whap, whap, three in a row. He’ll be standing there hearing the umpire go, ‘You’re out of here!’” — Justin Masterson, May 2011

“He does sound French, so he’s probably passive. I’m picturing an Oakland A’s type of guy, a Moneyball guy who works the count and tries to get on base.” — Chris Perez, May 2011

“I really don’t even use that much data, I just kind of understand what’s going on.” — Max Scherzer, June 2011

“It’s Wrigley. It has its history and it has its hops. You have to be ready for anything, especially with all these day games.” — Darwin Barney, June 2011

“I think if you know you’re going to be in a ballpark for a long period of time, there are some advantages to catering your swing and your approach. That’s not something you can just flip on, or flip off, but if I got a five-year deal to play in Cincinnati, or something like that, then I might be a little more geared to hit fly balls than I am now.” — Chase Headley, June 2011

“[Bruce Sutter’s] split-finger fastball came into my hot spot. I was able to recognize that pitch and also anticipate it coming down and hard into me. With him, I would swing where the ball would end up, which is very unnatural.” — Ryne Sandberg, June 2011

“That could happen once a game. [The changeups are] all sinking down and away and all of a sudden one will cut and I’ll be like, ‘Huh,’ and A.J. will be like, ‘What the heck?’ I’ll have no clue what I did, it just happened.” — Mark Buehrle, June 2011

“El Duque ranks right up there. He would give me signs from the mound, I’d put down the sign he wanted and he’d shake me off. That was always fun.” — A.J. Pierzynski, July 2011

“I used to play cards with Buster Posey before games and the loser had to shine the other guy’s cleats that day. There were times when he’d beat me and I’d shine his cleats, but there were also times I’d beat him and he’d be shining my cleats. I’d be like, ‘Hey Buster, you missed a spot.’” — Skyler Stromsmoe, July 2011

“If I was a cartoon character, I think I’d be Bugs Bunny. I’d be the baseball Bugs Bunny, because I’m kind of sneaky a little bit.” — Austin Jackson, July 2011

“A lot of times you can recognize pretty early if it’s going to be a curveball or a slider out of a pitcher’s hand, but depending on the pitcher — and depending on the velocity and the movement — it’s difficult to decide if it’s going to be a strike or a ball until it’s a lot closer to you.” — Ryan Braun, July 2011

“You try to look at a certain location, or for a certain pitch in a count, and you might guess at it. Actually, it really isn’t guessing. Sometimes you just have an idea — in a small part of the back of your mind — of what he’s going to throw.” — Rickie Weeks, July 2011

“It’s kind of hard to explain, but there are times when the ball feels like it’s a bowling ball and there are times when it feels like a golf ball. For the most part, the feel I have on a given day will [dictate] how I adjust on the seam.” — Josh Tomlin, August 2011

“Being a knuckleball pitcher is different from being a pitcher who throws a knuckleball. There are guys who throw one occasionally, or even half the time, but it’s hard to be a conventional pitcher with a knuckleball. You have to make a commitment to the pitch.” — Charlie Haeger, August 2011

“Playing catch is often the first professional act of the day. It’s a transition from personal life to team business. Lastly, as all position players think they can pitch, at least half of us are working on our off-speed stuff likely at the detriment of our elbows and shoulders, but we can’t help it. It’s too much fun. My changeup has come a long way since high school.” — Fernando Perez, August 2011

“I told Joe [Torre], ‘I’m not going to like this at bat.’ Joe had a little bit of a beard behind his mask and those great big coal eyes of his, and he didn’t say anything. The first pitch from Gibson hit me right in the back. It hit me right in the middle of my number. I looked back at Torre and he had a great big smile on his face.” — Ron Fairly, August 2011

“The best power hitter I played with was Willie Stargell. Nobody hit the ball harder than he did when I was around. I mean, I played with him for five years over there, and goodness gracious. He was old as heck, but oh god, he hit the ball hard. It just exploded off his bat.” — Mike Easler, September 2011

“Basically, that’s what the independent leagues look like right now. They look like the old Negro Leagues…. Why? That‘s a question you‘re going to have to ask me after I retire.” — Orlando Hudson, September 2011

“The purists thrive on statistics. It’s become such a numbers game that they need to have that. It’s almost like they need to have it for a fix, to be able to determine why a player is successful or why a player fails.” — John Gordon, September 2011

“I was maybe underrated because I didn’t say too much. I just played. I’ve always said that I’d rather be underrated than underpaid. I used to tell my agent that I felt I was one of the top 5% or 10% of the players in the league and I wanted to be paid that way. He made sure that I was.” — Ken Singleton, September 2011

“Bard was on the mound and Longo was hitting in the 11th inning. He hit the ball up the middle and the pitch was 99 [mph] at Longo’s neck. There’s no way he should have been able to hit it, but he did.” — John Jaso, September 2011

“It’s our goal to be an All-Star, an MVP, the best hitter or the best pitcher, but a lot of times you’re the Player To Be Named Later, instead. Not everybody’s a star.” — Chris Davis, October 2011

“It’s something that’s as easy as tying your shoes. You tie your shoes the same way every day, don’t you? It’s the same way with baseball players.… I don’t think about it. It’s natural and I just grip the ball and throw it.” — Matt Moore, October 2011

“Most people think it looks like a curveball grip — a traditional curveball grip. I show it to them and they say, ‘Is that a curveball?’ I say, ‘No, it’s my sinker.’” — Zach Britton, October 2011

“There was a certain amount of value to seeing pitches — [former general manager] Josh Byrnes was there — and that’s kind of what they liked. Then it switched to more of the old-school see-it-and-hit-it, where you either get it or you don’t.” — Kelly Johnson, October 2011

“God forbid that you’re ever caught — off the field by another player — wearing a team-affiliated shirt or hat. Or if someone asks if you’re so-and-so, or if you play for so-and-so, you have to come up with something like, ‘No, I’m a scuba instructor.’” — Brendan Ryan, November 2011

“The door was cracked, so I walked in. The room was pitch black. All I could see was the tip of a cigarette burning. [Ted Simmons] said, ‘sit down.’ I walk over, sit down and he immediately starts in with, ‘OK, here is the inning, here is the count, here is where the runners are and here is the score. What are your options and what are the red flags?’” — Bob McClure, November 2011

“If you’re looking in, and the pitch is away, you pretty much already have your front shoulder out there and you have nothing behind your swing. If you’re looking middle, you can work with it whether the pitch is in or out. You have time to drive the ball that certain way.” — Eric Hosmer, November 2011

“I probably didn’t get Boggs out until the very end of his career. I started throwing him a batting-practice fastball, down and away, because when I’d throw my normal fastball, he’d shoot in in the five-six hole. When I threw my batting-practice fastball, he’d be out in front just a click and hit it to the shortstop.” — Pat Hentgen, November 2011

“Today, everybody is looking for a guy who can get on base 250 times a year, and at the time I was doing it I was getting 200 hits and 100 walks. Then I would go to arbitration and be criticized for doing something that [front offices] now love.” — Wade Boggs, December 2011

“I remember seeing [former Angels catcher] Bob Boone that winter. Bob said that he was watching on TV when the ball went through Bill Bucker‘s legs, and he jumped up and yelled, ‘How does that feel? how does that feel?’ What happened to us is what had happened to them.” — Dwight Evans, December 2011

“I used to kick my leg, [Luis Tiant] used to turn his back. I used to love to watch him pitch.” — Juan Marichal, December 2011

“It’s almost a little Bill Madlock-like, but with longer arms. Sometimes [Jose Tabata] can get a swing off in a phone booth. It’s short and quick to the ball, and there’s intent.” — Clint Hurdle, December 2011

“As an organization, we [use data] a lot. That said, certain guys are able to use it and some guys aren’t, at least not as much. It’s our job to be able to give information according. Guys like Brandon McCarthy want a bunch, but a guy like Gio Gonzalez maybe doesn’t need as much.” — Bob Melvin, December 2011

“For some guys, I think it would probably be paralysis by analysis if I brought everything down that the sabermetricians have upstairs. I’m pretty sure we’d have some guys going numb thinking too much. Other guys would love the data.” — Mike Matheny, December 2011

“You can’t go out there and do exactly what you want to do without a brain. As you get older, you mature and put your knowledge to work, It’s like when you go to school for the first time. In first grade, you’re not going to know what you know in the sixth or seventh grade. Pitching is just the same.” — Mariano Rivera, December 2011

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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12 years ago

The Q&A series in 2011 was absolutely brilliant. I loved every piece. I think the only way to improve upon it is to get some of these guys actually write/dictate for Fangraphs. Brandon McCarthy (and maybe even his wife) would be perfect in my opinion.