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Scott Baker Needs to Be a Strike Out Pitcher

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I think a common misconception people have about Scott Baker is that he is just another Twins' "pitch to contact" guy. On the contrary... As he showed last year before getting injured he is very capable of striking guys out. He is nothing like Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, Liam Hendriks etc... Those guys have to pitch the ball down to keep the ball on the ground and avoid the HR ball. Baker should throw a lot more at the waste and letters. His fastball is the rising kind and hitters often get under it. One drawback is that this can create a lot of foul balls causing the pitch count to rise. Then there is his above average slider to compliment the fastball.

Prior to last year I had one major complaint about Baker. His willingness to give the hitters something to hit when he is ahead in the count. A fastball in the strike zone with an 0-2 count is unnaccaptable. I'm not sure who to blame, Scott Baker for lack of killer instinct, or the Twins for there overuse of the pitch count. If he throws a slider low and away or a shoulder high fastball and the batter doesn't bite, that is one more pitch that he has thrown. God forbid a Twins pitcher gets his pitch count in the 120's. Let me ask this...If pitch count is so important in preventing injuries, why does it seem like relief pitchers are getting TJ surgury at nearly the same rate as starters? Honestly I think mechanics, strength & conditioning and even luck are bigger factors in a pitcher staying healthy. My guess is that the pitch count is a product of teams doing whatever they feel is necessary to protect thier investments.

Last year I was pleased to see Baker attempting to miss more bats when ahead in the count instead of just letting guys put the ball in play. Now I ask this...was it because Baker finally adopted that killer instinct that a guy with his stuff should have? Or was the poor defensive play behind making him feel like he had to get hitters out himself to have a chance of winning? Whatever the reason I want to see more. If Baker stays healthy this year he should be able to win 15 games and finish in the top 10 in strike outs

Updated 02-20-2012 at 01:05 AM by righty8383

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  1. John Bonnes's Avatar
    I think Baker's performance this year is going to be very important and also very interesting. A couple of notes...

    First, it's an important year for him financially. The Twins have a $9M option on him next year and he'll need to earn that.

    Second, it turns out tht pitch count has not been proved to necessarily be that important for reducing injuries. A lot of what that was based on is now been shown to be a myth. If you're interested, I did 3 stories talking about that research. They are at:


    Finally, I'll give a gratuitous plug for our Gleeman and the Geek podcast where we talk quite a bit about Baker and Pavano and disagree pretty vehemently about who was more valuable last year and what to expect this year. It will be published on the 21st.
  2. TheMix's Avatar
    Not to be the grammar tool in the bunch. I think whomever this person is deserves to be heard and propelled forward as far as writing. However, with that in mind....in this case his slider "complements" his fastball, not "compliments".

    Damn I hate being that guy. Great analysis though.
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