FanGraphs Q&A: The Best Quotes of 2012

In 2012, I once again had the pleasure of interviewing a variety of people from baseball. This year’s list includes 46 MLB players, 19 top prospects, 12 coaches, 11 scouting directors, seven former players, six managers, five general managers and 15 who fall into other categories.

Here’s a selection of best quotes from the 2012 FanGraphs Q&A series.


“What we do with the data, internally, may be different than what other teams do. We’re always looking to find ways to improve the way we process data, and use data, and build our own internal metrics to, again, help with the process of assigning value to players. But really, fundamentally, all data starts externally.” — Ben Cherington, January 2012

“If you’re an extreme fly ball pitcher, that helps you at Petco. When the ball gets hit into the air, it hangs up and maybe doesn’t travel as well because of the coastal situation we have — the heaviness of the air.” — Bud Black January 2012

“Choo probably has the most raw power on our team, but Carlos is right up there. And he had a very good season. If you take away that batting average that so many people pay attention to… if you walk the way he walks, then the batting average isn’t such a concern to me.” — Manny Acta, January 2012

“Keeping your hands inside the ball is part of it. You can’t really hit the top inside part of the ball without the hands being in. That’s my way of dumbing it down for myself.” — Lonnie Chisenhall, January, 2012

“I’ve heard a lot of people call me a finesse pitcher, and I like that… At the same time, when you say finesse pitcher, you make it sound like you don’t throw hard, or whatnot. If I want to, I can get it up there. And I do, every game.” — Drew Smyly, January 2012

“The overall approach to mechanics and injury prevention would have to change — people would have to broaden their horizons a little bit — and I’m not sure that’s ready to happen. There would have to be more of a willingness to think outside the box.” — Josh Outman, February 2012

“A lot of people think Lincecum’s mechanics are bad, but according to the way we do it — the studies I’ve done — they aren’t as advertised. They’re not bad. He’s just a big-time tilter who rears back.” — Logan White, February 2012

“Mechanically, his delivery is an up-tempo, high-paced, high-energy delivery, somewhat in the Lincecum mold. Trevor [Bauer] is 6-foot-1 and he gets every bit of his 185 pounds into his delivery. Whereas some may call it a max-effort delivery, I call it a maximum-optimum delivery.” — Ray Montgomery, February 2012

“If you take a shortstop in the first round, and a shortstop is the best player available when your pick comes up in the second round, do you pass on that guy? What if you take someone else and that second-round shortstop — a guy you knew you wanted to take — becomes an All-Star? You’ll pull your hair out.” — Tom McNamara, February 2012

“I think there are different lines for different teams — what one team’s replacement level is might be well below another team’s replacement level. It depends on what your assets are and what is available to you given your resources.” — Dean Oliver, March 2012

“Conversely, Juan Pierre was all movement. He was hitting ground balls and running fast. It looked like a lot of stuff was happening. Of course, the main thing that was happening was he was making a lot of outs.” — Jon Sciambi, March 2012

“I looked at what puts starters in a good position to be successful, things like minimizing the amount of runners on base — your WHIP — and the data backs up my gut instinct. If I can translate my numbers to starting, I’ll be successful.” — Daniel Bard, March 2012

“Whitey was a stickler on stats and on positioning players, but he did everything by pencil. When I first started doing this — believe it or not — our defensive alignments were done with colored pencils.” — Nick Leyva, March 2012

“On balls hit to the third base-shortstop hole, MLB shortstops averaged 82 percent on balls hit to that [nearest] 7-foot slice. Ryan was at 86 and Jeter was at 73. You go another 7 feet to the right and the average is 61, with Ryan at 78 and Jeter at 40. Go another 7 feet and the average is 34 with Ryan at 56 and Jeter at 16. Go even deeper in the hole, where the average is just 8 percent, Ryan is at 13 and Jeter is at 0.” — John Dewan, March 2012

“I went through my numbers and found that my third baseman had made five plays for me. Over five months, that’s one play per month. And I was getting crushed in the six hole. I was thinking to myself, ‘What is the point of having a third baseman out there?’” — Burke Badenhop, April 2012

“For instance, the intent could be a fastball away. I give it either a plus or a minus depending on whether I was able to physically do what my mind intended it to. That’s a piece of data that FanGraphs or Pitch-FX can’t be helpful with, because they don’t know my intent on the pitch.” — Michael Schwimer, April 2012

“I’m kind of a max-effort guy, all over the place. I’ve been described a few times as a bull in the china shop when I’m on the mound. I’d be a one- or two-inning guy, maybe later in the game. I don’t know that I have quite the stuff to close out ballgames, which I kind of did in college.” — Mitch Moreland, April 2012

“I throw more of a split-change, but sometimes I throw a circle change. I try to throw a few different ones. If I’m throwing a four-seam fastball, I’m going to throw a four-seam changeup. Or if I’m throwing a two-seam fastball, it’s going to be a two-seam changeup. I want it to look the same out of my hand.” — Jarrod Parker, May 2012

“My old changeup was something nobody else throws. I gripped it with my ring finger, pinky finger and thumb… [The new one is] close to a split-finger grip, but it’s not as far down on the ball. My fingers kind of run along the sweet spot, just outside the seams.” — Brandon McCarthy, May 2012

“Going in, I have an idea of the sequences I want, based on execution. If I miss on the first pitch, then it kind of resets itself in the same manner that I know the hitter, but a 1-0 count is quite different from an 0-1 count. The same with a 2-1 versus a 1-2.” — Jerry Blevins, May 2012

“He threw me a two-seamer for a ball and then a cutter for a ball. That put me ahead in the count 2-0, so I was looking for a pitch middle to middle-in that I could drive. Instead, he threw me a fastball away.” — Michael Brantley, May 2012

“After standing him up, I went curveball and got a strikeout. The reports didn’t say that he’d chase, but they do say that he’ll get in swing mode every now and again. He’s a professional hitter, but it was one of those curveballs that started on the same plane as my fastball.” — Josh Tomlin, May 2012

“I’m aware of the luck in [BABIP], but at the same time, you can’t directly influence it. You can just keep mixing your patterns, executing and locating, That’s the human element of this game.” — Max Scherzer, May 2012

“There are stats now like defensive UZR, and all that, but they don’t show the placement of the player. Everything nowadays is so statistical. Like wOBA. We have a wOBA this year –weighted on-base average. It’s pretty cool to look at that, even though we joke about it.” — Adam Jones, May 2012

“When you’re fielding a ball, your glove is basically an extension of your hand. The louder it hits, the less soft it is. You almost want a dead fish hand, like you’re catching an egg. You don’t want it completely flexed, it’s almost like you want it to be dead.” — Brendan Ryan, May 2012

“My game shoes didn’t make it to Game 7. I’m not blaming the people in New York, but they had a tendency to lose stuff at the wrong time. I got to the game and I had zero shoes. Zero.” — Derek Lowe, June 2012

“We’re constantly evaluating ourselves. Self-evaluation is the most important evaluation that you make. The most important team that you cover is your own.” — Mike Rizzo, June 2012

“We are typically more aggressive than anybody else. We had a player here, Fernando Perez, who said, ‘We err on the side of aggressiveness.’ We harp on that in spring training and all year long. Don’t be afraid to mistakes. We value mistakes, as long as we learn from them. And we’re going to make mistakes.” — Dave Martinez, June 2012

“We preach trying to swing at about 80 percent. Typically, what happens when you over-swing is that you screw up your timing. Your swing gets longer and you miss pitches. What I tell our hitters is to stay at 80 percent and your timing will stay at 100 percent.” — Rick Eckstein, June 2012

“I don’t try to hit the ball 500 feet. It looks good when you hit it 500 feet, but as long as it goes over the fence, it‘s a home run. When you swing hard, it takes a little bit of recognition away from you. The power you’re trying to increase — you’re not all the way through it with your vision.” — David Ortiz, June 2012

“When an artist wants to paint a painting, they have all those things in their head that they want to portray on a canvas. It’s the same thing when I’m pitching. I have all these thoughts going through my head about how I want to pitch: which pitch I want to throw here, and why do I want to throw it?” — Justin Verlander, June 2012

“My curveball is a blessing. My father taught it to me. He felt that it was a pitch he wanted me to learn, right on the side of the house, and it just ended up working. I never asked what the tricks were, or anything like that.” — Gio Gonzalez, June 2012

“That was how I hit when I was 12 and it was how I hit when I was in high school. For the most part, hitting is a reactionary thing where guys are going to do what comes natural to them. It’s hard to truly make guys change the way they swing the bat.” — Rocco Baldelli, June 2012

“I think [defensive play] can kind of be equivalent to a guy who hits .300, but it’s a lot of infield hits and bloopers. He doesn’t really drive the ball, so he hits what you might say is a soft .300. You can’t judge based on just a couple of the numbers.” — J.J. Hardy, June 2012

“When you lose velocity off of your fastball, one thing that suffers is your off-speed pitches — the action on your off-speed pitches. Once you lose arm speed, it takes away rotation from your off-speed pitches. The rotation is what gives them the sharpness and the nastiness.” — Tim Hudson, June 2012

“A lot of guys, when they first start learning to throw a cutter, will get caught in between a slider and a cutter, trying to make the ball move. Their wrist action is different to where they start losing velocity on it. You don’t want that. When you start to lose velocity, it almost becomes a slider. They’re two different pitches.” — Randy St. Claire, July 2012

“You have to be confident, but there are no easy at bats. There are no lay ups; there is no wide open pass. There is a guy on the mound who is trying to feed his family.” — Giancarlo Stanton, July 2012

“I like WAR, but I don’t like it for relievers. I think it’s a good stat for starting pitchers and everyday players, because it’s a bulk stat. I don’t think you can quantify relievers the same way you can quantify a starter.” — Glen Perkins, July 2012

“Statistical analysis. We never messed with that too much back in the ‘70s, but we did in the ‘80s and the ‘90s and the 2000s. We’ve been looking at that forever.” — Terry Ryan, July 2012

“I just cared about my RBIs. When I saw men on base, I saw a chance for an RBI and I wanted to get it, no matter what. I didn’t care if it was with a ground ball. I wasn’t trying to get a hit. I just wanted to get the run in.” — Tony Perez, July 2012

“I’ve always had kind of a natural way of swinging a baseball bat. When I was younger, I used to hit a lot of rocks, using a broomstick. My best friend and my brother would flip me rocks.” — Tyler Naquin, July 2012

“The one thing I’ve stayed consistent with has been my fastball. It’s a little unusual the way I hold my four-seamer. I hold it with the horseshoe on my index-finger side. Most guys have the horseshoe on the other end of it.” — Phil Hughes, July 2012

“Murph? He’s got a long face and he eats a lot.” — Michael Young [on David Murphy], August 2012

“One of the reasons I appreciate being in a Pirates uniform is the greats who have worn it in the past. There was Bill Mazeroski hitting the walk-off home run to win the World Series. There was Roberto Clemente wearing the number 21. There was Pops: Willie Stargell. There was Dave Parker: Cobra.” — Andrew McCutchen, August 2012

“I don’t necessarily believe in throwing fastballs down in the zone, because when I look at the geometry of it — and creating deception to the hitter — it doesn’t make any sense to me to throw fastballs down. Petty much just everything I do pitching-wise can be explained and taken to be extremely complex.” — Trevor Bauer, August 2012

“The pitch would normally be low, but my ball starts carrying and stays on a sustained plane. Everyone always complains — ‘that ball is low’ — but then you go back and look at the tape, and it’s right there. My catchers tell me, and the hitters tell me, that the ball stays true flight the last five or six feet.” — Roy Oswalt, September 2012

“If you watch [Justin] Verlander and [Stephen] Strasburg throw their curveballs, a lot of people say they’re 12-6, but they’re really not. They can throw it at a guy’s elbow and drop in it for a strike. I’d say that’s more the shape of my curveball.” — Jameson Taillon, September 2012

“You have to treat this game the right way. You have to treat it with respect and go about your business. That’s how I see it. I’m a rookie.” — Manny Machado, September 2012

“You want to hit the bottom side of the ball and you want to create backspin. You want to have a short swing to the ball. I don’t really know if hitting home runs is mechanical or not. I just think it’s just that you have the ability to hit home runs better than some people.” — Wil Myers, September 2012

“I want a guy that I can count on at five. In this lineup, if I have a situation where I need someone to drive in a run, the guy I want at the plate is Salvador Perez.” — Ned Yost, September 2012

“When people ask what kind of manager I’ll be, I always tell them, ‘Give me a roster and then I’ll tell you how I’m going to manage that ball club.’” — Bo Porter, September 2012

“I chewed on that awhile and slowly tried to transfer the concept of how I felt on the basketball court when I was shooting my jump shot. I worked that into my delivery — my arm angle and my release point.” — LaTroy Hawkins, October 2012

“Nobody wants to be a middle reliever their whole career. It’s just like people don’t wake up and say, “I’d love to be vice president.” People want to be president. Instead of being a set-up guy for someone, if you feel you can handle the job, why not? Why not take the most-important job?” — Casey Janssen, October 2012

“Would I be more famous? I’m going to say yes. People in Colombia follow soccer a lot. But do you know what? I’ll take this. I don’t want to be too famous. I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, my God, you are a huge soccer player, or a huge baseball player.’ No. I just want people to treat me normal, like another human. I am another human.” — Ernesto Frieri, October 2012

“I wasn’t a Star Trek fan, but people have called it the Vulcan. My middle finger and ring finger are kind of separated. My ring and pinky fingers are on one side of the ball. Split apart from that, my middle and pointer fingers are on the other side.” — Danny Hultzen, November 2012

“I put my middle finger and my ring finger right on top of the seams to be able to pull them through. I’ll try to get over the top of it, just like you would a curveball if you‘re throwing a curveball 12-to-6. It’s just the opposite way. It’s like a curveball reversed.” — Hector Santiago, November 2012

“It’s crazy. We play against the Rays — geez, a million times — and B.J. Upton comes up, and I’ve taken hits away from him up the middle and in the hole. He’s taken hits away from me, too, in that gap and in that gap. Now it’s kind of like a game between us.” — Dustin Pedroia, November 2012

“The approach is more of the intangible. It’s a mindset; it’s your game plan as you head up to home plate. The tangible side of it is the physical and fundamental side — the hands, the swing, the lower-half — and it all works together.” — Eric Wedge, December 2012

“With Bronson, you can never tell what velocity he’s throwing. He’s so eloquent with his delivery that everything is just kind of flowing and then comes at you. His curveball looks the same as his fastball. You can‘t pick anything up from his arm action.” — Ryan Hanigan, December 2012

“There’s just not a lot of inventory, and to find a shortstop or a catcher, or a centerfielder, that you think that could stay at those positions… they’re very hard to acquire. Sometimes you have to overpay for them, because of that lack of inventory.” — Kevin Towers, December 2012

Joe Niekro. And I didn’t do a lot of catching, I did a lot of goalie-ing…. Joe threw a knuckleball that was about 10 mph harder than that of his brother. It was like a butterfly on steroids.” — Alan Ashby, December 2012

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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Sleight of Hand Pro
9 years ago

i hate to be a debbie downer, but most of these quotes are actually quite boring, more or less just stating basic, obvious, sabrmetric principles. most of these interviews had easy-to-answer, boring quesitons posed in them, and i understand thats whats necessary to get the interview in the first place… but it doesnt stop me from yawning at the list. of course, the answers are slightly more interesting when put in the context of the original interview instead of a “best quotes” list.

needless to say, your work is still appreciated anyway. keep on keepin on in 2013.

9 years ago

Wow, I logged in to say just the opposite. I don’t see these kinds of conversations with players and managers often and I enjoyed rereading the responses, and checking to see if my favorites made the list.

Sleight of Hand Pro
9 years ago
Reply to  majnun

well, if youre mostly reading the MSM, of course not. the article is presented to fangraphs readers though. granted, i didnt read every quote on the list, but the ones i read i just didnt find compelling. petco is good for flyball pitchers, the red sox have an evaluation process and work analytically, brendan ryan has more range than derek jeter, daniel bard would like to post the same numbers as a starter that he does as a reliever, etc etc….

i appreciate davids work, as i stated. its just that when i click on a “best quotes” list, i typically have a higher expectation of the quotes being interesting. thought it was a snoozefest, thats all. just my opinion.

9 years ago

I have to agree. This makes me wonder what the worst quotes of 2012 were.

Sleight of Hand Pro
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan

you mean like the michael brantley quote? granted, its taken out of context… but its so mind numbingly uninteresting, its inclusion could pass for complete satire.

9 years ago

Gotta say I agree unfortunately. Some are better than others, but hard to view these quotes as anything but disappointing

9 years ago
Reply to  David Laurila

Dave – I’m a HUGE fan of your work. Consistently great interviews from interesting subjects. And I agree that these quotes are all interesting in context. The problem is exactly that – lack of context. A larger snippet or some colloquial scene-setter for each quote would make this a perennial Fangraphs favorite (certainly better than an annual New Year’s Miguel Sano report).