2011 A's Retrospective #26: Michael Wuertz
Speaking of disappointing years, how about Michael Wuertz's seven walks per nine, leading to 25 runs allowed in 33 2/3 innings in 2011? Batters stopped chasing his pitches out of the zone while Wuertz threw in the zone less than he ever has before, they made contact more often, and the results on contact weren't pretty: .327 BABIP. Sometimes you say "oh, that's just bad luck," but when every other indicator is down as much as it was for Wuertz (velocity, whiff rate, strikeout rate, swings out of the zone, etc. etc. etc.), and when the pitcher has had shoulder injuries in each of the last two years (along with what looks like a chronic thumb problem), the smart money is probably on "he's done" more than "he'll bounce back."
And forget about the smart money, that's where all the money is right now in baseball, as Wuertz was cut by the A's back in October and he hasn't been picked up yet. At this point, you've got to figure he'll take a minor-league deal with whichever team he feels provides him the most clear path to a major-league bullpen spot, which is just another way of saying that his days of relevance are through.
It's a little sad, though, because the last two years of difficulty have overshadowed, perhaps, his remarkable 2009, when he struck out 11.5 per nine while walking just over two and a half and giving up only six homers in 78 innings. All of that added up a 2.37 FIP. Among pitchers with at least 50 IP, that ranked fourth behind only Jonathan Broxton, Zack Greinke, and Tim Lincecum. That Broxton is basically done and there are whispers about Lincecum's ability to keep going as he has points up just how insanely impossible it is to pitch at an elite level for years on end in major league ball.
Beaneball by Jason Wojciechowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.