My love for Sean Gallagher is blossoming faster than Travis Henry can say, "Can I borrow some of your piss?"
Something that has been going through my mind for the past few years is the importance of numbers in baseball. They've skyrocketed over the last whatever years for two main reasons. One is success. Everyone knows that Billy Beane and the A's are pretty competitive every single year with guys you've never heard of simply based on Billy's trickery with the digits. Also, overlooked is Bill James who pretty much invented the saber-metrics way of analyzing baseball and has had a large influence on Theo Epstein, the GM of the Rex Sox, among others.
Reason #2 that numbers in baseball, and really all sports, have been getting more press and more attention paid to them; is fantasy sports. Fantasy is absolutely HUGE. It's not even just the nut-jobs like myself and my co-writers here, so many people all over the world play in some sort of league. Therefore the numbers have become paramount for many and for some, fantasy is really their only bridge to sports at all.
The question that has been ringing in my head is simple. Has the numbers game gone too far? I fear that is has gone to the point where now the old school rugged scouting is being way overlooked, like in Sean Gallagher's case. There has to be a balance.
Of course sometimes the numbers DO tell the whole story. Take Omar Vizquel for instance. He has absolutely no right to be playing professional baseball anymore and his still great fielding is no excuse for his absolutely horrendous hitting. He is hanging out below the Mendoza line at .156 and is sporting a .229 obp and .177 slg... Omar should be staying away from bats for the rest of his life.
So anyway... I just watched Gallagher's first outing as an Oakland A, and man, he is serious. His career numbers in the minor leagues are very good, but nothing compared to some other young studs like Lincecum, Hughes, Yovani and even Ian KenneDONG.
And no, I'm not insinuating that Mr. Gallagher is about to take over as the best young pitcher in the MLB. All those guys mentioned before are F-ing sick, but the point I am making is that the 22 years young Sean Gallagher and his elite stuff have been greatly overlooked because of very good numbers, instead of unbelievable ones in the minor leagues (Edinson Volquez also comes to mind).
First and foremost the fastball. You gotta start with the fastball. Gallagher's isn't THAT exceptional. It is pretty flat, but with his great and sustainable velocity (between 94-96 mph according to a questionable A's gun), and very good location is makes a decent heater look great. Throughout his start against the Angels, Gallagher was painting all four corners with the heat to get ahead of batters.
Next is the curveball. I think that the A's broadcasters made a great comparison when they said that Gallagher's hook looks a lot like his new teammate's Justin Duchserer, who by the way is leading the MLB in ERA and opponent batting avg. For the amount of movement on his 12-6 snapper, it's also got great velocity sitting at high 70s, so it can beat you with speed or movement, but usually just both. This is Gallagher's best pitch and where he tallies most of the Ks.
Following the uncle Charlie is the splitter, although to me it looks more like a forkball. It was pretty much sitting at the 83-85 mph range which is a very nice difference in speeds from his heater. The movement on his forksplitweesh is phenomenal and the third time through the lineup this pitch started becoming to go-to strikeout pitch, and guess what? It worked perfectly.
His fourth and worst pitch is the slidepiece. His sits at mid to low 80s and is not great. He threw it so sparingly which tells you he's not very comfortable using it, but at this stage in his career it is just a pitch to keep the hitters off balance. It's got solid movement, and people, Gallagher is only 22 years old, by the time he's eligible to rent a car he'll have four pitches with varying speeds and good movement that he can throw for strikes... Uh oh...
I hope that all of this has also led you to loving Mr. Sean Gallagher and if not, maybe you'll at least understand and respect why.
SIDE NOTE: Former Tulane great Shooter Hunt made his second career professional start tonight going 5 innings, no earned, no hits, 2 BBs and 10 ks. Keep it goin' Shooter. Hollar.