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Eric Cioe

Max Scherzer

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Fangraphs article on Max

Right-hander Max Scherzer looked poised to team with Dan Haren for years to come, giving the Diamondbacks an elite one-two punch at the top of the rotation. However, after January’s three-team headliner between the Yankees, Tigers and D-Backs, Scherzer now heads to Detroit to miss scads of bats alongside Justin Verlander.

Taken out of Missouri with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, Scherzer didn’t sign on the dotted line right away. The 6-5 power pitcher had a good, not great junior season for the Tigers, missing a run of starts with biceps and shoulder tendinitis. Baseball America said that Scherzer “only flashed” his mid-to-upper 90’s fastball velocity, generally sitting at 91-92 MPH. Scouts also had concerns about his herky-jerky delivery, as well as his promising-but-inconsistent hard slider and changeup.

With Scherzer still seeking top-line cash, negotiations between Arizona and agent Scott Boras moved at a glacial pace. This was before baseball instituted a mid-August signing deadline in 2007-prior to ‘07, teams retained the rights to a player up to one week prior to the next year’s draft. Scherzer kept sharp by pitching for the independent Fort Worth Cats. Eventually, Arizona ponied up $4.3 million in guaranteed money, with $1.5 million in incentives.

Max finally took a pro mound in 2007. He started his career in the High-A California League, scorching hitters for a 30/2 K/BB ratio and a 0.53 ERA in 17 IP and quickly earning a promotion to the Double-A Southern League. In 14 AA starts covering 73.2 frames, Scherzer struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings. His control left something to be desired (4.9 BB/9), but he posted a 3.46 FIP.

Following the ‘07 season, Baseball America named Scherzer the fourth-best prospect in a loaded Arizona system (Carlos Gonzalez, Jarrod Parker and Brett Anderson ranked ahead of him). BA gushed over his fastball, which hit the “mid-90’s with sinking action at its best.” Scherzer’s upper-80’s slider also impressed, though it was inconsistent.

However, they also noted that “some scouts who saw Scherzer as a starter at midseason wondered what the fuss was about.” His heater sat in the low-90’s, and “his overall stuff, command, feel and delivery all drew questions.” A dominant showing in relief in the Arizona Fall League (18 K in 12.2 IP) seemed to reinforce the concept that Scherzer could end up as a closer instead of a starter.

Scherzer began the 2008 season starting at Triple-A Tucson of the Pacific Coast League, but he was summoned to the majors in late April. He oscillated between the rotation and the ‘pen before being sent back to AAA in mid-June. Unfortunately, he came down with a case of shoulder inflammation, missing a month of the season. After a few relief appearances with the Sidewinders, Scherzer transitioned back to the minor league rotation in late July. Recalled to Arizona in late August, Max had a pair of relief stints and then spent September in the major league rotation. Whew-got all that?

In AAA, Scherzer simply outclassed the competition. He whiffed 13.4 batters per nine with 3.7 BB/9. Max’s FIP was a microscopic 2.07 in 53 innings. When batters weren’t swinging and missing wildly, they were chopping the ball into the ground (51.7 GB%).

With the Diamondbacks, Scherzer made seven starts and nine relief appearances in 56 IP. Overall, he displayed an impressive combo of power (10.61 K/9) and control (3.38 BB/9). Scherzer’s xFIP was just 3.19.

His stuff was as wicked as advertised. Scherzer sat at 94 MPH with his fastball, tossing the pitch about 73 percent of the time. That gas was supplemented by a mid-80’s slider (thrown 17 percent) and changeup (10 percent). Scherzer’s fastball had a +0.63 run value per 100 pitches, and his slider bucked knees for a +3.79 mark. The changeup lagged behind, though the sample size was small (-3.29). Scherzer pounded the strike zone, placing 54.7 percent of his pitches over the plate (51.1% MLB average in ‘08), and his 72.9% contact rate was well below the 80.8% big league average.

In 2009, Scherzer began the year on the DL with shoulder fatigue and tightness. Max became a full-time starter after his activation in mid-April, taking the mound 30 times and throwing 170.1 innings. The 25 year-old was extremely hard to hit, punching out 9.19 batters per nine innings. His 76.9% contact rate was 14-lowest among starters, and his 10.4 swinging strike rate placed 16th among starters (7.8% average for SP).

Scherzer’s control was solid as well. He issued a modest 3.33 BB/9, while getting ahead of batters with a 61.3 first-pitch strike percentage (58% MLB average). With a 3.88 xFIP, Scherzer placed in the top 20 among NL starters.

Max’s fastball didn’t lose much zip while making all of his appearances as a starter, sitting at 93.6 MPH. He still called on the pitch heavily: Scherzer’s 71% fastball usage was seventh-highest among starters. That heater was slightly below average on a per-pitch basis (-0.11 runs/100). Scherzer’s 85 MPH slider (thrown 12 percent) posted a +0.58 runs/100 value, while his changeup checked in at -0.61.

The high-octane righty subdued same-handed batters, holding right-handed hitters to a 92 sOPS+ (he performed eight percent better than the league average vs. RHB). Lefties fared better, with a 103 sOPS+.

Overall, Scherzer’s first year as a permanent starter was extremely promising. Many have wondered why the Diamondbacks shipped him out of town, preferring two years of team control over Edwin Jackson and six years of Ian Kennedy over five years of Scherzer and six years of Daniel Schlereth.

The most likely reason is that Arizona doubts Scherzer’s long-term health and viability as a starting pitcher. To recap his extensive injury history since 2006: shoulder and biceps tendinitis in ‘06, shoulder inflammation in 2008, shoulder fatigue and tightness in 2009. His health certainly bears watching, especially considering that Scherzer’s innings total increased from 109 in 2008 to 175 in 2009.

There’s little doubt that Scherzer has the talent to become one of the top 20-30 starters in the majors. Not many pitchers combine his ability to miss bats with average to above-average control. The question is: can he hold up physically?

Max Scherzer in Motown | FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

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On 12/10/2009 at 9:32 PM, tiger337 said:

Based on that video, I'm pretty sure he'll win the Cy Young.

Wrong. 

He'll win 3. 

Who knew??? What an epic transformation. 

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On 12/12/2009 at 6:38 PM, Hart said:

Question for you knowledgeable posters: Who will have the better career? Phil Hughes or Max Scherzer?

This was a legit question at the time. 

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On 12/12/2009 at 7:50 PM, cruzer1 said:

I don't think so, although it's close. I'd take Hughes.

Oops.

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1 hour ago, roarintiger1 said:

Not re-signing Max was the beginning of the end for the Tigers' playoff run.  It was a huge mistake for the Illitch regime.

They would have traded him off along with $100 million for the Red Sox’s 11th best prospect this past July.

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43 minutes ago, chasfh said:

They would have traded him off along with $100 million for the Red Sox’s 11th best prospect this past July.

I could also see a scenario where DD is still here, and with max under contract in 2014 they don’t trade for price or sign Zimmermann. Maybe cespedes is signed instead of Upton. Or maybe they extend JD. 

I could see DD continue to spend big here and with max instead of zimmermann it’s a different story. 

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On 11/16/2017 at 6:01 PM, Shelton said:

I could also see a scenario where DD is still here, and with max under contract in 2014 they don’t trade for price or sign Zimmermann. Maybe cespedes is signed instead of Upton. Or maybe they extend JD. 

I could see DD continue to spend big here and with max instead of zimmermann it’s a different story. 

At the very least they wouldn't sign Zimmerman and we'd make the playoffs in 2016.

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On 11/16/2017 at 6:01 PM, Shelton said:

I could also see a scenario where DD is still here, and with max under contract in 2014 they don’t trade for price or sign Zimmermann. Maybe cespedes is signed instead of Upton. Or maybe they extend JD. 

I could see DD continue to spend big here and with max instead of zimmermann it’s a different story. 

Like a gut punch.  So true.

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Wow, some great old time posters I'd like to see back here.....Coie, Truman, Yoop....did something happen to Yoop?  He disappeared after mid March suddenly....seriously, is he OK?

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2 hours ago, sabretooth said:

Wow, some great old time posters I'd like to see back here.....Coie, Truman, Yoop....did something happen to Yoop?  He disappeared after mid March suddenly....seriously, is he OK?

Yes, I have seen Yooper post on facebook. I see Cioe and Truman on twitter.   

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On 11/16/2017 at 5:13 PM, chasfh said:

They would have traded him off along with $100 million for the Red Sox’s 11th best prospect this past July.

Maybe.......but only after they would've won a world series or two.  :)

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1 hour ago, sabretooth said:

Wow, some great old time posters I'd like to see back here.....Coie, Truman, Yoop....did something happen to Yoop?  He disappeared after mid March suddenly....seriously, is he OK?

And what about DTroppens? 

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On 11/16/2017 at 4:00 PM, roarintiger1 said:

Not re-signing Max was the beginning of the end for the Tigers' playoff run.  It was a huge mistake for the Illitch regime.

Very much so. I think the organization just never believed in him for some reason. It was like just because they had one great pitcher it wasn't possible they could have or give props to a second. They were always worried about his mechanics or that the slider was unsustainable - or something. I also tend to believe that the slight of not giving him the opening day start after winning the Cy Young probably contributed to an unbridgeable rift. Who knows, maybe Verlander was a jerk about too - we just have no idea other than the net result, which was that the way the team played it produced the wrong result.

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19 minutes ago, Gehringer_2 said:

I also tend to believe that the slight of not giving him the opening day start after winning the Cy Young probably contributed to an unbridgeable rift. 

I always thought not giving Max that opening day start after his CY year was a slap in the face.  If there was any chance he was going to sign an extension, it was gone after that IMO.  Max never needed a reminder that baseball was a business, but that surely hardened his goal to be showered with money and affection in free agency rather than settle for being the Organization's second-favorite pitcher. 

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3 hours ago, mickeyb105 said:

I always thought not giving Max that opening day start after his CY year was a slap in the face.  If there was any chance he was going to sign an extension, it was gone after that IMO.  Max never needed a reminder that baseball was a business, but that surely hardened his goal to be showered with money and affection in free agency rather than settle for being the Organization's second-favorite pitcher. 

I think the bigger issue was when Ilitch forced DD to put out the press release.  And,  of course, our unwillingness to pay him what he ultimately received from the Nats.

in defense of the Tigers, I didn’t think there was any way he’d stay as healthy as he has been.

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3 hours ago, Gehringer_2 said:

... I think the organization just never believed in him for some reason. It was like just because they had one great pitcher it wasn't possible they could have or give props to a second. They were always worried about his mechanics or that the slider was unsustainable - or something...

IIRC, the BIG issue was that the Tigers refused to pay Scherzer more than JV. That's it. A money/ loyalty decision. I think they offered Scherzer an extension prior to his last season, at less money than JV (I think it was only $500K per year average less, but still...). And AFTER he had already won the CY.

Maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but they should've given him what he asked for. Although the other issue was that they were looking to not bust the tax-level at the time. Ilitch mighta been looking for some relief even though he was willing to spend, and it mighta been "we can't afford every star...". We had just traded Fielder for Kinsler. Not giving Scherzer the extension/ money he wanted might have been another cost-saving move. IIRC.

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10 minutes ago, Tenacious D said:

in defense of the Tigers, I didn’t think there was any way he’d stay as healthy as he has been.

I'm sure that did figure into their thinking.

I haven't done the numbers myself, but the claim has been made that once you figure in the time value of money against the deferrals in his deal with the Nats, it supposedly isn't significantly better than the Tigers' offer - though one can't deny the PR value of that bigger press number.

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3 minutes ago, 84 Lives!!! said:

IIRC, the BIG issue was that the Tigers refused to pay Scherzer more than JV. That's it. A money/ loyalty decision. I think they offered Scherzer an extension prior to his last season, at less money than JV (I think it was only $500K per year average less, but still...). And AFTER he had already won the CY.

Maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but they should've given him what he asked for. Although the other issue was that they were looking to not bust the tax-level at the time. Ilitch mighta been looking for some relief even though he was willing to spend, and it mighta been "we can't afford every star...". We had just traded Fielder for Kinsler. Not giving Scherzer the extension/ money he wanted might have been another cost-saving move. IIRC.

Don't disagree - they could have matched JV's number and I think they both could have lived with that. The tax thing may have part of the thinking, but it just goes to show how confused the FO was in their thinking about the long term to turn around and sign Price and say they would try to sign him - which was initial line - at least until Price made it pretty clear he was less than thrilled about being here.

I think in Mike's final years Dombrowski was just the wrong guy. Dave seems kind of an aloof guy and I think as Mike got toward  the end he probably got a little moody and mercurial and to work with that you have to be personally very close to smooth it all out and I don't the two of them were. I could be way off base, but it seemed to me in those last years, Mike would say something and even if it wasn't the best long term plan, Dave would just say "If that's what you want that's exactly what I'm going to do" instead of trying to use his expertise to work with Ilitch toward more coherent planning the way two people who were closer to each other would work things out. Sometimes as time goes by people are just not the right match for each other any more.

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I am not sure this organization at that time paid a lick of attention to things like luxury tax and health implications.  If they wanted Max they could have kept him.  Money's never been an issue.  Ilitch was senile by then, or Chris was involved... whatever.  Something in the negotiations pissed them off.  That press release was so odd. It wasn't written in typical DD style.  That right there was the beginning of the end of this Tiger era. That was the seed that signaled things would change.  I'm not sure DD made every move he wanted.   If I could have one wish it would be to redo that off season.  So many dominos.  Not just Max.  The Fister/Ray deal... the closer situation... trading Prince for Kinsler.... 

I've always held that DD had 90% control over things but that 10% was Ilitch and had so much more drama.

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I sat five seats down from Boras and DD the day negotiations broke down at the Spring Training game.

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They were probably lamenting that Ilitch is crazy.  When I say "pissed them off" I am referring specifically to Mike Ilitch and his family.  They are very polarizing. If you end up on their wrong side then it's over forever.  

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What type of polo shirt was Dave wearing?

Specifically, how many different pastel colors were used in the manufacture of the shirt?

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