The Wildest Fellows in Baseball

Wild is a relative term. Some would consider the wildest player in baseball to be someone like Brian Wilson, pictured below. Not me. Who would consider this fine gentleman to be wild?

*I’m fairly confident this is a picture of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson, and not the same-named member of “The Beach Boys”

I care not about the wildness of players who wreck their hotel rooms, run around with “ladies of the night,” or dress in bright colors. The type of wildness I’m concerned with, is the kind of wildness where a pitcher cannot throw the ball over the plate. When said pitcher could not “hit the broad side of a barn”, so to speak. That is the type of wildness that I am concerned with. There are six pitchers in the major leagues this season that have a BB/9 of greater than 5 – what I consider to be the criteria for extreme wildness. Now, These pitchers might be wild for different reasons. Some are perhaps wild due to their desire to throw the perfect pitch.* Others may be wild due to their inability to control where they throw the baseball. Others might just “suck” at baseball. Whatever the reason, these six pitchers have had trouble throwing throwing strikes.

*Not to be confused with the “perfect pitch” of the aforementioned Brian Wilson.**
**There’s a chance Brian Wilson doesn’t actually have “perfect pitch.” I know nothing about singing.

So without further ado, here are the six pitchers who, according to my criteria, are the wildest fellows in baseball:

6. Carlos Zambrano – 120 IP – 5.18 BB/9 – 6.68 K/9

Zambrano has struggled with control throughout his entire career – with both his pitches and his temper. His career BB/9 is over 4, but his mark of 5.18 this season is his highest since 2002 – his first full season in the majors. The Marlins trading for him was viewed as a savvy pick up in the offseason, but it’s not turning out quite as well as they’d hoped. Luckily he’s only given up 9 homeruns on the season, perhaps aided a bit by the “spacious” Marlins Park,* which helps to minimize the damage of all those extra base-runners.

*There have been 81 HRs hit in Marlins Park so far this season, but 74 of those were hit by Giancarlo Stanton if I remember correctly. I didn’t have time to verify that stat however, so there’s a chance I’m off by one or two.

5. Edinson* Volquez – 135 IP – 5.33 BB/9 – 8.33 K/9

*I was going to make up a long story about how Volquez’s parents named him after Thomas Edison, but tossed an “N” in there just to be unique, but then I realized that would require a significant amount of work just to make an awful joke. You should be grateful.

Volquez was also traded in the offseason, from the Reds to the Padres as part of the Mat Latos deal. This is the fourth straight season he has posted a BB/9 of over 5, meaning that if I had done this list of the wildest fellows in baseball for the last four years, I would have run out of things to say about Edinson Volquez. As it is, I don’t really have much to say. Volquez is having a decent season despite the walks, and his best since he won 17 games in 2008 with the Reds. He’s wild but, perhaps partly due to pitching at Petco, it hasn’t been disastrous.

4. Ubaldo Jimenez – 127.2 IP – 5.36 BB/9 – 6.91 K/9

This is the third guy so far who was traded within the last year, perhaps suggesting that teams are willing to take a flyer on a guy with good stuff, even if prone to bouts of wildness. This is the first season in his career that Jimenez has posted a BB/9 of over 5, having been under 4 for the last 3 seasons. What looked to be a good trade for the Indians has taken a turn for the worse. Well, not really a “turn” for the worse, as it didn’t really start out that great, and hasn’t improved. In 33 starts with Cleveland, over 193 innings, Jimenez has posted an ERA of 5.22, with 103 walks and 160 strikeouts. Not the best numbers from a pitcher who had a 2.88 ERA (3.10 FIP) in 2010 pitching half of his games at Coors Field. Maybe Jimenez has lost his stuff, or maybe he has gotten wilder just from having to spend time in Cleveland. Whatever the case, Jimenez has been one of the wildest guys in baseball this year.

3. Kyle Drabek – 71.1 IP – 5.93 BB/9 – 5.93 K/9

For 2 straight years, Drabek has started out the season looking somewhat promising, before completely falling off a cliff. Not literally. Figuratively. His 5.93 BB/9 this year is actually an improvement on his walk rate of 6.29 from last year. Over the past 2 seasons combined (27 starts), Drabek has pitched 150 innings, striking out 98 while walking 102. Normally it isn’t a good sign when you walk more guys than you strike out. It isn’t in this case either. Drabek had to have Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career after making only 13 starts this season, so he won’t be back until June 2013. That should still give him enough time to pitch 50 innings though, so he can be on next year’s list as well. On a happier note, Kyle Drabek has recently grown a mustache.

2. Daniel Bard – 55 IP – 6.05 BB/9 – 5.56 K/9

When considering whether to convert a relief pitcher into a starter, I think you can put one check-mark  under “Not a good idea” for Daniel Bard. His walk rate more than doubled from 2.96 BB/9 out of the pen last year to 6.05 as a starter this year, which prompted a demotion back to the minor leagues. If one were to ask “Was Daniel Bard wild this year?” the answer would be “Yes.” The next thing to say would be “Are you free Saturday night?” Answer: “Also yes.”

1. Jonathon Sanchez – 64.2 IP – 7.38 BB/9 – 6.26 K/9

Ahhh, Jonathon Sanchez. The Sanch.* The wildest fellow in baseball. And another offseason trade acquisition. As well as midseason trade acquisition. You see, the Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the Giants this offseason for Jonathan Sanchez. I haven’t heard how Melky Cabrera has done this year, but Jonathan Sanchez has certainly struggled. His utter inability to throw a pitch near the plate** caused him to be traded yet again to the Rockies. Because if you get the opportunity to acquire somone walking 7 and a half batters per nine innings – you do it. No questions asked. Sanchez’s walk rate is 1.35 BB/9 higher than the next wildest man in baseball. The current MLB leader in BB/9 is Scott Diamond at 1.3. Jonathan Sanchez would need to throw 303 straight walk-free innings to equal that rate. Jonathan Sanchez is a wild man. Or a wild fellow, as it were.

*I cannot confirm whether or not “the Sanch” is actually a commonly used nickname for Jonathan Sanchez, only that if it is not, it should be.
**rumor has it, that one misguided pitch Sanchez threw actually struck Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews up in the broadcast booth. RIP.

This concludes the wildest fellows in baseball. Later this evening, if laziness doesn’t overcome me, I’ll post some gifs showcasing each of these pitchers’ wildness. Or I might not. You never know. Don’t count on it.

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