PERSPECTIVE ON JOSE’S 40-START DOMINANCE

jose-fernandez-featureAs he prepares to make his 41st career major league start tonight against the Nationals, Jose Fernandez has limited opponents to a .188 batting average, a .253 on-base percentage and a .279 slugging percentage in his career.

To put those numbers into perspective, among all qualifying big leaguers in 2015, only 2 have a batting average below .188 (Chris Carter of the Astros is hitting .184, while Mike Zunino of the Mariners is batting .180). Only 2 qualifying major leaguers have a sub-.253 OBP this season (Kansas City’s Omar Infante is at .244, while Zunino is at .239). And not a single qualifying major leaguer has a slugging percentage lower than the .279 mark Jose has permitted in his career. The 2015 major league low is .291 by Billy Hamilton of the Reds.

Fernandez has allowed a .532 opponents OPS (on-base + slugging) in his big league career. The 2015 major league low: .549 by Zunino.

Since the start of 2013, Miami is 26-14 when Jose starts, good for a .650 winning percentage. In that same span, the Marlins are 154-229 when anyone else starts, a .402 winning percentage.

For more on the Marlins and Major League Baseball, follow me on Twitter at @GlennGeffner and friend me on Facebook at Facebook.com/GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts delivered directly to you via email, please click the “Follow” button and enter your email address. And you can catch Marlins play-by-play on the radio all season long on AM 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.

JOSE FERNANDEZ: THE PATIENT’S PATIENCE

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at St. Louis CardinalsWith the Marlins tomorrow facing Mets ace Matt Harvey, who’ll be making his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery, I’ve got a conversation with Jose Fernandez coming up on Sunday’s edition of Marlins On Deck.

Jose’s continuing his rehab work in Miami and not traveling with the team, but we sat down to talk at Marlins Park the day the Marlins left town to begin the current 10-game trip.

Among the things I asked Jose is, realizing how competitive he is and how much he loves to pitch, how he’s been able to remain so patient throughout the 11 months (so far) of his own rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.

“It’s about being mature. It’s about being mature and being responsible. And it’s about respecting the work the doctor did, the work my therapist Ron Yacoub has done, the work the Marlins have done, the work of my Mom, my girlfriend, anybody who has been there and knows how hard it’s been for myself.

“It’s just more out of respect and being responsible. If you do something crazy, you’re going to just throw away what everybody has done to try to help you.

“It’s tough. It’s not easy. I want to pitch today in the big leagues. People ask, ‘How have you been so patient?’ I have been because I have to be. But I would love to pitch in the big leagues today. It’s just what I love to do—to pitch.”

To hear my full conversation with Jose Fernandez, tune into Sunday’s edition of Marlins On Deck at 12:40 on 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.

For more on the Marlins and Major League Baseball, follow me on Twitter at @GlennGeffner and friend me on Facebook at Facebook.com/GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts delivered directly to you via email, please click the “Follow” button and enter your email address. And you can catch Marlins play-by-play on the radio all season long on AM 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT TEAMMATE?

Prior to joining the Marlins this winter, third baseman Martin Prado had spent the first 9 seasons of his major league career earning the immense respect of teammates with the Braves, D-Backs and Yankees as well as the admiration of other big leaguers, like many Marlins, who’d watched him from across the field over the years.Featured image Chipper Jones called Prado the best teammate he’d ever had. Braves executive Henry Aaron has reportedly frequently discussed the high regard in which he holds the 31-year-old Venezuela native, who spent his first 7 seasons in Atlanta. When I sat down with Prado for a conversation that aired on Marlins On Deck earlier this week, I asked him about the reputation he’s earned over the years, and I asked, specifically, what he thinks makes a great teammate.

“You’ve got to be patient first of all. You’re going to have 25 different kinds of (people) plus coaches. And everybody’s got a different personality. “The main thing you’ve got to have is respect. I have respect for all my teammates. I make sure that I keep my distance. You can joke around. You can play with the guys. But always have your distance. If you respect every person that you’re around, you’re going to be fine. “Another thing is you respect the game. You do everything right. You go up there, and they see that, even when you struggle, you’re doing everything you can to show them that, ‘Hey, I’m here no matter what.’ That’s when people start realizing that this guy’s for real. “I’m just making sure that when I walk away from this game I can look back and say that I did everything I could to be a good teammate and a good baseball player.”

So many of the things Prado does that stand out to those around him occur off the field–in the clubhouse, away from the ballpark and away from the cameras. For that reason, it’s sometimes hard for fans to have a true understanding of the kinds of things that don’t show up in the boxscore that a player like Prado can do to help a team. One example is the night this spring when he took every Latin player in the Marlins organization out for dinner. Every major leaguer and every minor leaguer. Nearly 50 players in all. I asked Prado why he felt that was important to do.

“I didn’t have anybody who did that for me, and–believe it or not–that kind of thing can make a huge impact on young players coming up. They (don’t really know) what it takes to be in this position that we’re in now. We’re so lucky to be here. “Every single day I spend in the big leagues is like my first day, and I play and live like it might be my last. “So I want to let them know that there are guys up here that care about them. And at some point in their career, they might do the same thing for guys coming up. It’s like a chain. You return the favor for guys who don’t have the same privilege you have to be here. “Besides that, they’ve got a routine down there. They just eat the same thing everyday. We went to a restaurant, and there were TVs, and we were watching games and talking about baseball. They asked questions, and you can see guys who want to know. They want to learn about the game. I was open to share my experience and make sure they don’t make the same mistakes that I made.”

I thought this was some great perspective from a respected 10-year major league veteran, and I think it helps illustrate why those who know him best—Hall of Famers; future Hall of Famers; and teammates–past, present and even future–respect Martin Prado the way they do. To hear my complete interview with Martin Prado—and other interviews we do on Marlins On Deck—go to Marlins.com/Podcasts. And for more on the Marlins and Major League Baseball, follow me on Twitter at @GlennGeffner and friend me on Facebook at Facebook.com/GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts delivered directly to you via email, please click the “Follow” button and enter your email address. And you can catch Marlins play-by-play on the radio all season long on AM 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.

A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria today celebrated his 26th birthday by going 3-for-3 with a home run, a sacrifice fly, 3 RBI and 2 runs scored in the Marlins’ 6-2 win over the Braves at Turner Field.

With a 5th-inning 2-run home run off Eric Stults, Hechavarria became the 8th Marlins player (9 times) to go deep on his birthday:

Jeff Conine on June 27, 1993

Orestes Destrade on May 8, 1994

Charles Johnson on July 20, 1996

Preston Wilson on July 19, 1999

Derrek Lee on Sept. 6, 2001 and again on Sept. 6, 2003

Paul LoDuca on April 12, 2005

Jarrod Saltalamacchia on May 2, 2014

Hechavarria is the 9th Marlins player (11 times) to collect at least 3 hits on his birthday:

Preston Wilson had 4 hits on his birthday in 1999.

The other Marlins with 3 hits on their birthday are Chuck Carr in 1993, Charles Johnson in 1996, Edgar Renteria in 1996, Jeff Conine in 1997 and again in 2004, Paul Lo Duca in 2005, Miguel Cabrera in 2005 and again in 2006 and Logan Morrison in 2010.

The only other Marlins with 3 or more RBI on their birthdays are Jeff Conine (4 in 1993), Derrek Lee with 3 in 2003 and Conine again with 3 in 2004.

After starting the season 1-for-22 over his first 6 games, Hechavarria went 7-for-11 in the 3-game series against the Braves, a series in which the Marlins won 2 out of 3.

For more on the Marlins and Major League Baseball, follow me on Twitter at @GlennGeffner and friend me on Facebook at Facebook.com/GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts and my Stat of the Day delivered directly to you via email, please click the “Follow” button and enter your email address. And you can catch Marlins play-by-play on the radio all season long on AM 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.

MY COMPLAINT ABOUT THE COMPLAINTS ABOUT DEE GORDON

Dee Gordon

Ever since the Marlins acquired Dee Gordon in December, I’ve read one comment after another from the number crunchers complaining that the man who ranked 5th in the National League in hits a season ago doesn’t walk enough.

What they don’t tell you, or what they clearly overlook, is this:

In 2014, Gordon saw a higher percentage of strikes (49.5) than any hitter in the National Leagues. In the majors, only Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox saw a higher percentage of pitches in the zone (51.8).

Digging deeper, a check of the numbers available on Fangraphs.com tells us that Gordon swung at only 44.6 percent of the pitches he saw in 2014. Only 17 players in the NL swung less often.

And 66 percent of the pitches he saw a season ago were fastballs, the 5th-highest rate in the majors, 4th-highest in the NL.

So, to recap, he sees more strikes than anyone in the league, swings less often than virtually anyone and sees a steady diet of fastballs. But some still complain that he doesn’t walk enough.

I’m not quite sure what the critics want him to do other than go to the plate without a bat and watch as pitchers pump fastball after fastball over the plate.

Because of his speed and the type of hitter he is, pitchers are always going to aggressively attack him with fastballs in the strike zone. They don’t want him on base because he is so disruptive, so the last thing they want to do is walk him. And they’re not afraid of him hitting a home run (he has 4 in 1,230 major league at-bats), so they’re simply going to pound the strike zone, usually with fastballs.

So again I ask: How is Dee Gordon supposed to walk more?

For more on the Marlins and Major League Baseball, follow me on Twitter at @GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts delivered directly to you via email, please click the “Follow” button and enter your email address. And tune in for all the Marlins action throughout the spring and all season long on 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.

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