Monday, September 29, 2008

Coke Addict

I have a confession to make. When I started the "Best player to make his major league debut with the Yankees in 2008" poll, I was a much bigger Alfredo Aceves fan. I really thought he was going to outshine Phil Coke and win the poll, but it looks like I was wrong.

I just submitted my vote for Coke. It wasn't an easy choice, especially considering Aceves pitched twice as many innings, in a completely different role, as Coke. But, in the end, I have to say that Aceves looks promising, but I'm very excited about Coke. With a 7-to-5 advantage and the poll about to close in less than an hour and a half, it looks like the consensus is that he's the Yankees' top pure rookie.

The first game of Sunday's doubleheader was the deciding factor as far as I'm concerned. Personally, I was surprised that Girardi took Mike Mussina out of his potential 20th win after 6 innings, and just 73 pitches. But, when Coke pitched the 7th and blew away Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew enroute to a 13-pitch 1-2-3 inning, I no longer questioned the decision. Then, of course, Joba Chamberlain faltered in the 8th and had to be bailed out by Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte and Mariano Rivera. This further emphasized what an impressive performance it was by Coke, in the only game that still mattered for the Yankees this year.

Aceves ends the season with an impressive 2.40 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and .227 opponents' batting average in 30 IP. But, a few deeper statistics indicate that there's reason to be cautiously optimistic. With just 16 strikeouts, his 4.8 K/9 IP rate is below average, and although his control is above average (3 BB/9 IP), his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.6 is unimpressive. The league average is 2, and when I'm looking for a pitcher who I think is going to be dominant, I look for a ratio closer to 2.5 or better. I also look for a pitcher who keeps the ball in the yard, and his 4 HR (1.2 per 9 IP) allowed is a little worse than average. This is not necessarily cause for concern, but it's nothing to be excited about either.

Coke's statistics need to be evaluated on a somewhat different scale, because of a relief pitcher's inherent advantage of throwing only an inning or two at a time. However, there's really no downside to his September performance. I'll start with his 0.66 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and .160 opponents' batting average in 14 2/3 IP. Looking beyond those statistics, though, it gets even better. With a 7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (14 SO, 2 BB) and just 8 hits and no home runs allowed, I am absolutely hooked, and looking forward to another fix next season.


  1. I gotta say, I fully agree. I added both of these guys to my fantasy league (I know, I know...fucking dork, right?) But, it felt good on many levels. first it nice to add some Yanks to my roster, but more so, seeing Coke pitch a few times at the stadium made me really go, "Wow!" That kid is gonna be a force. I went to both games of that last double header versus Tampa Bay and had great seats for the second game. Right behind the dugout, Yanks side and just watched him make people look silly! All in all, he stepped up when he needed to and got us wins, sadly, just not when we really needed them for real playoff contention. I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch some more next year.

  2. By the way....a funny story. At the last game at the stadium in the seats that Lee and hope we don't have next year, I yelled, "I need some coke!" So many people stared at me with eyes of revulsion. I looked at Lee and wondered why nobody "got it." He was warming up for chrissake.

  3. Who said you couldn't write a catchy title> :)