FanGraphs Q&A: The Best Quotes of 2013

In 2013, I once again had the pleasure of interviewing a variety of people from within baseball. This year’s list includes 51 major league players — not counting the dozens who contributed to the Player’s View series — 38 top prospects, 16 coaches and managers and several others who fall into other categories.

Here is a selection of the best quotes from the 2013 FanGraphs Q&A series.


“I caught it under my armpit, but then dropped it. The umpire called him out. The opposing manager came running out. He grabbed the umpire and slapped him, and threw him to the ground… Then he goes back to the dugout and sits down.” — Pete LaCock, January 2013

“I don’t think they were reflective of him being a homophobic person. They were mostly blown out of proportion, but again, that’s baseball. Things get said, things get written, players get labeled.” — Justin Ruggiano, January 2013

“We were kind of like the same ham and eggs. Did we feed off each other? No, but Soup and I did the things baseball calls on you to do to be successful” — Tom Burgmeier, January 2013

“Everybody works on the perfect swing, but I don’t think there is one classic swing anywhere in the game. Tony Gwynn is no longer playing.” — Don Baylor, February 2013

“I accept being labeled a power pitcher. It’s part of who I am. I throw hard.” — Zack Wheeler, February 2013

“For some reason, on my first pitch of the game, I can never throw anything over 87 mph. It doesn’t matter how hard I try.” — Vance Worley, March 2013

“I probably throw as many variations of pitches as anybody in the game, yet most of my catchers — definitely [Ryan] Hanigan — only put down a one or a two. … He just needs to know if there will be a large variance.” — Bronson Arroyo, March 2013

“The reason the R-squared went up last year is that it made a very bold prediction that Jered Weaver was going to have a BABIP over 40 points lower than his teammates. It got it right to .001 of accuracy.” — Dan Rosenheck, March 2013

“A lot of GMs measure their own mortality relative to their job. If they feel they’re at risk, they’ll make different decisions than if they feel safe. That’s typical in any job.” — Mark Cuban, March 2013

“What you don’t want is to know something your competition doesn’t, and it’s wrong. If everybody is wrong about something, it doesn’t hurt you too bad. But if you’re the only one, you have 29 teams taking advantage of your mistake.” — Voros McCracken, March 2013

“Analytics, today, is kind of like 30 guys with 30 radar guns. That’s not meant as disrespect to scouts. … It’s more of an analogy to recognizing what data is commoditized, and what data really gives you a competitive advantage.” — Farhan Zaidi, March 2013

“When I was younger, I was kind of like Barry [Bonds] in that I’d sit in that chair and spin on that back leg. I could get that ball up in the air. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, it’s a lot tougher.” — Jason Giambi, March 2013

“I think Bruce Bochy is similar to Earl Weaver when it comes to the idea of giving away outs. From the moment he arrived with the Giants, he told me he hates the bunt. He almost hates to have the pitcher bunt.” — Jon Miller, April 2013

“We had one of the lowest walks-per-nine-innings in baseball. We had one of the highest percentage of first-batter efficiency. … Those are things we encourage, but having a philosophy doesn’t mean you’re going to execute something.” — Bryan Price, April 2013

“I was a Spanish-speaking kid from Nicaragua who didn’t understand the language real well, and I got a reputation in the Orioles organization as a hot-headed pitcher who didn’t want to go along with the system. The reason was that I fought for my rights.” — Dennis Martinez, May 2013

“Some balls you can get to, but you’re not going to make a play at first, so it doesn’t matter if you stop it or it gets by you. A hit is a hit.” — Jimmy Rollins, May 2013

“I hit one off Brad Lidge a few years ago that went 491 feet. It was a hanging slider, to left-center, in Arizona. I remember it like it was yesterday. The next day, one of the umpires told me it looked like a tee shot, like a high draw. He said the ball got small, real quick.” — Mark Reynolds, May 2013

“I really propel and force myself off the mound. That’s how I’m able to throw hard for my size. … Because of that it might appear that I’m max-effort, but I can tell you firsthand I’m nowhere near max-effort. I’ve seen max-effort, and that’s not me.” — Marcus Stroman, May 2013

“I’m a guy who tends to think, think, think, and analyze, analyze, analyze. Sometimes that’s not a good thing. Baseball is… I’m not going to say dumb, but most guys want to keep it simple. … As simple as it sounds, pick the leg up, get the arm up, attack the hitter.” — Ryan Rowland-Smith, May 2013

“A pitcher will look at his video and then come to me and say, ’Let’s break this down.’ The one thing we have to be very careful about is seeing something that isn’t there. As humans, we sometimes have a tendency to want to see something, so we see it.” — Jim Summers, May 2013

“I didn’t know what I was looking for. I had no clue what I was looking for. I was watching video almost blind, like ‘OK, maybe I did this or maybe I did that.’ That’s kind of how I got to where everything just kind of fell apart.” — Scott Kazmir, June 2013

“The off-arm is one of the most important parts of a delivery. Any time you do something with one arm, you want to mimic it with the other. What I’m doing out here with this arm is going effect what I’m doing back there with that arm.” — Mickey Callaway, June 2013

“Am I being lucky or not really lucky? If a guy has a 4.50 FIP and is consistently pitching at 4.00 [ERA] or 3.80, that has to mean something. Or if he has a 4.50 FIP and is pitching at 5.00, that is something too.” — Bruce Chen, June 2013

“You doubt yourself all the time. I’ve never been a guy who has strutted around, thinking I had it made. Every time I go 0-4, I’m wondering if I’ll ever get another hit.” — Lance Berkman, June 2013

“I think Bonds would do better in Ruth’s era than Ruth would do in Bonds’. Of course, they wouldn’t have let Bonds play in Ruth’s era.” — Dave Trembley, June 2013

“I told A.J. [Pierzynski] before the inning that I threw knuckleballs, so he called a few of them. The rest were fastballs. I threw zero curveballs. I threw one curveball in warm ups and it went to the backstop, so I figured that probably wouldn’t be the best idea.” — David Murphy, June 2013

“I’ve kind of turned myself into the mad scientist in the cage. … I don’t think it’s fair just to tell guys how to do things; I want to put you in position so your body can feel it.” — Chad Mottola, June 2013

“The catcher sees a pitch more as it actually, physically is. The pitcher sometimes sees it more how he perceives it, or feels it, coming out of his hand. How it actually is and how it feels can be two different things.” — Stan Boroski, July 2013

“When I got my first win since coming back, I threw the worst out of all of our pitchers. And the night before, our left fielder threw up a zero. That’s the way this game works sometimes. I didn’t really deserve the win.” — Neal Cotts, July 2013

“He could be hitting .170, then all of a sudden, with two strikes he’s hitting .320. What does that tell you? It tells you that on 0-2, he’s looking soft. Or maybe he’s gone from a .300 hitter on fastballs to an .080 hitter on 0-2 fastballs.” — Jarrod Saltalamacchia, July 2013

“It always sucks when they miss a strike for you, but that’s just the game — it’s always been there. It wouldn’t be baseball if we had some machine calling balls and strikes.” — Josh Outman, July 2013

“They met at the first base line and went after each other. Both of them had belts in karate. Corrales went to dropkick, and missed, and Stew smoked him. It was on after that. It was a good fight.” — Pat Tabler, July 2013

“Sometimes I try to hit like Ichiro. I’m not mechanically like him, but I try to do the way he twists and gets his body going. So it’s a definitely an art, but I also can’t say it’s more of an art than it is a science.” — Shane Victorino, July 2013

“Baseball is abstract, it’s not linear. There isn’t an equation you can put in that explains baseball. You can’t say, ‘If I do this every time, I’m going to win.’ That’s not true.” — Wally Joyner, August 2013

“Think of a hula hoop. If your swing were to come through the hitting zone and then continue on that same path around that axis, which is your body, it would form a circle, or a hula hoop” — Luke Scott, August 2013

“When Bo told me, I said, ‘Hey, I’m really proud of you; whatever I can do to help.’ He said, ‘You don’t understand. We got the job. You’re coming with me.’ After I hung up the phone, it was Chariots of Fire.” — Dave Trembley, August 2013

“Homers, bro. Chicks dig the long ball. Score ‘em all, bro. Just be the chauffeur, driving them home.” — Nick Swisher, August 2014

“People want to make baseball players out to be celebrities. We’re just baseball players. You see guys like Yasiel Puig all over the TV now. They show his outs.” — Gordon Beckham, August 2013

“I know who is an ass-kicker and who is a bit overrated. It kind of makes me sad watching a guy who is just so awesome not get the attention, whereas a guy who is not quite as good gets a lot of attention, and then Hall of Fame attention.” — Joey Votto, August 2013

“He didn’t have the career numbers, and maybe didn’t have the peak a lot of guys who are in the Hall of Fame had, but he was the guy on a lot of good teams. For every guy who hits 600 home runs, there are also guys like that who make it for different reasons. Reputation matters.” — Glen Perkins, August 2013

“I’m assuming Yadier Molina is right near the top in WAR right now, because of his combination of offense and defense. I don’t think WAR is the argument settler, but it sure is a useful tool.” — Dan Dickerson, September 2013

“There were those who didn’t think — at least a year ago — that Jose Iglesias was a frontline Gold-Glove-caliber shortstop. One of them was Bobby Valentine. He thought there was a lot of smoke and mirrors with Jose’s defensive ability.” — Dave O’Brien, September 2013

“Look at Chris Sale. If you see a snapshot of him, what’s going on with his arm is unbelievable. And he has no arm issues. That’s the game of baseball. You can be completely wrong, yet you’re right.” — Matt Thornton, September 2013

“We’re making sure we stay inside the ball with what I call ‘focusing on the nail.’ I try to give them a little small point on the baseball. Just imagine there’s a nail on the inside part of the ball and that’s what you want to hit.” — Lloyd McClendon, September 2013

“Ultimately, the way you got Tony Gwynn out was to throw it right down the middle of the plate. And this is God’s honest truth: Sometimes the good hitters who can manipulate the baseball, inner-half and outer-half… they don’t know what to do with it.” — Bob Tewksbury, September 2013

“Some of the questions are just atrocious. They’re just really bad questions. It’s not fun to give up a broken-bat single and then a guy comes in and asks what went wrong. Are you kidding me? What went wrong? The guy didn’t hit the ball hard enough.” — Tommy Hunter, September 2013

“I don’t have any sympathy for the devil.” — Phil Coke, September 2013

“[Tim] Raines. Never has anyone been so unfairly penalized for not being quite as good as an immortal. Was he Rickey Henderson? No. But Jimmy Foxx wasn’t as good as Babe Ruth and he’s still in Cooperstown.” — Craig Calcaterra, September 2013

Jeff Bagwell used to topspin balls to left field with the best of them. He put so much spin on it, it was like a tennis shot. But then he would also backspin balls to right center that would go 400-something feet.” — Greg Colbrunn, September 2013

“It’s almost an unwritten rule you can’t shake Yadier. Once you do it, you almost feel bad.”— Shelby Miller, October 2013

“You have other guys who throw in an unorthodox fashion and never have an arm injury. I don’t think anybody has it down to an exact science. I also don’t think anybody is going to watch me and say, ‘Hey, son, watch the way Jake Peavy throws. Let’s mimic that.’” — Jake Peavy, October, 2013

“That’s Butter’s baby, and I’m a big fan of it. I’m a fan of moving a bunch of defenders into one area where you know there’s a very good chance a player will hit the ball. The reason I’m a fan of it isn’t just because of probability. There’s a tail on that.” — Torey Lovullo, October 2013

“During the regular season, we don’t [have advance scouts] for every series. I think most clubs have gotten away from that. We do our advance work through video and statistical information.” — Dave Dombrowski, October 2013

“I think you have to look at statistics in the context of how they happened and make a decision from there. In my mind, without context, statistics aren‘t all that valuable.” — Neil Wagner, October 2013

“I don’t think there’s any one stat. There are a bunch of them. Maybe it would be Fielding Independent Pitching. Guys with the best defense in the league are obviously going to have a lower ERA than guys with the worst defense in the league. You try to take that to a mean.” — Justin Verlander, October 2013

“I have no idea what FIP is. I’m not much for the new era of stats. I think they’re just starting to make up junk, and trying to make these things relevant. It’s not that complicated.” — Casey Janssen, October 2013

“You’re just throwing a baseball off a mound. That hasn’t changed in 100 years. They can change the mound — they can change whatever — but the act of throwing a baseball is never going to change. Nobody is going to revolutionize that.” — Andrew Heaney, November 2013

“Maybe a few of our doubles will go over the wall next year, so our home runs will go up and our BABIP will go down. Would the narrative be that our luck regressed or that we added power? It kind of depends on how you choose to categorize performance data.” — Michael Girsch, November 2013

“It’s called a backup slider because the catcher moves over to try to catch it. He’s expecting it to break, and has to back up because he sees it is not breaking. Generally speaking, it is a mistake pitch. It’s a slider that doesn’t slide.” — Alan Nathan, November 2013

“The pitcher is on a mound, so he’s throwing the ball down to you. In order to catch the bus, you kind of need a little bit of an uppercut. On flat ground, you’d want a more level swing.” — Kris Bryant, November 2013

“Hitting coach is the hardest job in all of baseball. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.” — Lloyd McClendon, December 2013

Whitey Herzog once told me — when I was a minor league pitcher with the Mets — ‘Pitchers need to continue to work on their strengths while hitters must work on their weaknesses.’ I have never forgotten that.” — Brent Strom, December 2013

“You’ll hear people describe a pitcher having had a beautiful game. You usually don’t use that adjective for scientific discoveries. Not unless it’s something naturally beautiful.” — Mark Appel, December 2013

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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I can’t decide which is better: the Nick Swisher quote, or the fact that it will happen in the future.