Updated Aug 28, 2012 - 2:36 pm
Felix, hitters and rule changes
By Gary Hill
Last night Felix Hernandez baffled the Minnesota Twins on his way to another complete game shutout. He continues to dominate Major League hitters as he surges towards his second Cy Young award.
At this point one can begin to feel badly for the hitters. What does a hitter do without hope?
They do have one alternative. Hitters need to pressure Bud Selig into implementing the following 11 rules starting the next time Felix takes the mound. These new rules will give hitters an opportunity to not be completely overwhelmed every single time they step to the plate.
1- Teams will start every inning with a "ghost runner" on second base
If childhood taught us anything it was that ghost runners were really fast and would tend to score in even the most absurd situations. The American League needs the help. Felix boasts the best ERA in Major League Baseball (2.43) and scoring on him in the second half has been as rare as spotting a Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat in the wild (7-0 1.23 ERA since the All-Star break).
2- The Little League World Series walls will be placed in the outfield when Felix pitches.
Teams are slugging a microscopic .304 against him which is best in baseball by 9 full points. To give you an idea of exactly what that means Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies maintains a .304 slugging % as a hitter. Felix has essentially turned all of MLB into a hitting pitcher. Furthermore, cleanup hitters against Felix are hitting .181 with 0 Homers and 2 Doubles in 86 plate appearances. That is a slugging % of .208. Felix has a career slugging % of .296. The premium power producing spot in every MLB lineup has been transformed into a wasteland of punchouts, cracked bats and broken spirits.
3- Opposing batters will now get four strikes instead of three
Felix has fanned 184 batters which is 3rd best in all of baseball. Opponents are hitting .138 when down in the count to Felix with exactly 4 extra-base hits in 249 plate appearances. Four!
4- Felix will be banned from facing the Minnesota Twins
Felix has faced the Twins twice and yielded 0 runs in 17 innings. The Twins scratched out a grand total 5 singles and 1 triple. He K'd 14 and only issued 3 free-passes.
5- Opposing teams will automatically get a run before the game even starts
Felix leads all of baseball with 5 shutouts. There have only been two pitchers since 1990 who have thrown more than 5 shutouts in a season (Cliff Lee- 6 2011 and Randy Johnson- 6 1998). Felix has more shutouts this year than the entire combined pitching staffs of the Red Sox, Tigers, Marlins and Twins.
6- Felix will no longer be allowed to pitch in the ninth inning
Teams should at least be given the chance to take a crack at another pitcher. The King has finished his work five times this season which happens to be more than all but seven entire baseball teams this year. The Milwaukee Brewers have 5 complete games in the last four seasons combined. He also has thrown 196 2/3 innings this year which is tops in baseball.
7- Bases on balls will move from four balls to three
Teams are only hitting .218 against The King this year which is 3rd best in the AL. To make matters worse for AL hitters, he only offers 2.11 free passes every 9 innings which is 9th best in the league.
8- The second inning will be skipped all together
Felix has coughed-up exactly one run in a second inning this year which translates to a 0.33 ERA. Opponents are hitting .185 in second innings with 0 HR 1 2B 0 3B in 97 PA. His first inning ERA is 3.00, so the opposition is advised to try and score then.
9- The M's offense will be required to score more than 1 run in Felix starts because it feels too much like taunting
So close…..yet so far away. One run is all Felix has needed four times this year. Only Ferguson Jenkins in 1974 and Bert Blyleven in 1976 have four wins in 1-0 ballgames in a season since 1969.
10- Teams will be allowed to expand their rosters for a day to include as many lefties as they can
Stuffing the lineup with lefties will not get teams very far (.230 BA/ .603 OPS), but righties have helpless against him (.199 BA/ .540 OPS). Here are the right handed hitters who have homered off of Felix this year- Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Gordon Beckham twice. So yes, Gordon Beckham has as many homers as the rest of right-handed hitters in baseball combined off Felix.
11- The catcher will be required to tell the batter which pitch is coming and if it is the change up then the batter will have the option of using a cricket bat
Cricket bats are wider and may be more useful to go after a baseball that is swooping down in the zone like an Eagle descending from the skies on its prey. According to the pitch values on fangraphs.com, Felix achieves the rare feat of having all four of his pitches ranked in their individual Top-10's.
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