Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: King Zack

One of the more remarkable stories of this year’s MLB season has been the complete dominance of one member of the Kansas City Royals pitching staff.

Being a casual baseball fan, I had never heard of Zack Greinke until I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated back in May while waiting to fly home from a trip to Vancouver (and by picked up, I mean I stood in the kiosk, read the article and put the magazine back).

Inside, Joe Posnanski described a 20-year-old pitching prodigy who, straight out of high school, was KC’s pitcher of the year in 2004 and by 2006 was straight out of baseball.

After a 5-17 season in 2005 that saw his ERA balloon to 5.80, things turned sour for the Florida native who would rather hit a home run than throw a fastball.

When a frustrated Greinke took a couple of months away from baseball in 2006, he was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and began taking medication. That signaled a change in his life, and since then he’s been a force to be reckoned with.

As Posnanski pointed out in his SI piece back in May, Zack Greinke “has been a phenom, and he has been a bust. He has walked away from baseball, and he has comeback. He has been a starter and a reliever, a genius and a flake, and even now he’s still only 25 years old.

When Greinke came back to baseball he did so with a vengeance, becoming one of the elite pitchers in the game. On April 29th of this year, for example, Greinke gave up his first earned run in 43 innings, a stretch dating back to the previous season.

Since that hot start, Greinke has won 15 games (fourth-best in the league), striking out the third-most batters (229). His most impressive stat, and the one that could earn him a Cy Young Award this season, is his microscopic 2.08 ERA.

Lets not forget that his club, the KC Royals, boasts the sixth-worst record, the third-worst fielding percentage and has committed the fourth-most errors in the entire league.

His is a story of triumph, failure and second chances – and one that I’ve enjoyed following this season.

And since we’re talking baseball statistics, I’ve got to give a hat tip to Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds, who hit a milestone this week.

On Tuesday, Reynolds struck out for the 205th time this season, setting and breaking his own MLB record for strikeouts in a season.

Now, we’ve all struck out a few times in our day to days, but damn!

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