Wendy Thurm

wendythurm

Wendy was born a die-hard Mets fan but overcame that affliction when she moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s. Now she's a die-hard Giants fan. Baseball has always been a big part of her life. She started writing about baseball in early 2011 when she created HangingSliders.com, a blog devoted to baseball analysis, commentary, humor and poetry. Wendy is now a contributing writer at FanGraphs, Baseball Nation and Getting Blanked.

Recent Posts

I’m a west coaster now, chillin’ by the beach with my freshly-made guacamole, organic heirloom tomatoes, and fifteen different types of lettuce. But it wasn’t always this way. I was born in Brooklyn, and while I was raised out on Long Island, I spent a great deal of my childhood in the Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay neighborhoods of Brooklyn. I’ve always felt a strong connection with the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs. Well, that is until I moved to San Francisco and renounced by Brooklyn Dodgers heritage to become a fan of the Giants.

So while I won’t root for the successors to the Brooklyn Dodgers, I do root for players who grew up in Brooklyn. Players who had to travel the city by subway and bus to get to the decent baseball fields. Players who had to fight for attention from scouts and big-league college baseball programs. City guys like former Mets closer John Franco and Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia.

And guys like Adam Ottavino.

Who?

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There was a time when I spent many hours watching do-it-yourself design shows on HGTV. We were in the pre-pre-planning, pre-planning, planning, and doing stages of our home renovation. I can’t remember the show titles anymore but my favorite ones featured the couples who got halfway through their renovations, ran out of ideas, energy and money, and then called in the TV experts to clean up their mess. I also liked the shows that taught how to make any room look like it was designed by an expert on a shoestring budget.

As I combed through last week’s boxscores on Sunday night, looking for the unsung heroes, my days as an HGTV addict came rushing back. That’s sounds weird, so let me explain.

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Remember when we started the Impact Index, and I said we’d be focusing on more than just numbers? That we’d be peering behind the statistics to tell the stories of the unsung heroes? The long roads traveled by the middle relievers and utility guys who get little press but sometimes do big things to help their team win?

Yeah, well, sometimes the numbers are the story.

Last Thursday, Kansas City Royals platoon catcher Brayan Pena hit a walk-off, pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth against Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford. The Royals were down 3-2, with two outs, and runners on first and second. Pena looped a liner to left field, scoring the runner on second. The Brewers then misplayed the ball on the relay, allowing the winning run to score. It looked like this:

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If one of the goals of the Impact Index is to introduce you to players you may not know, but who made a big impact on their team in the past week, then I’ve been remiss in not writing several posts about the Los Angeles Dodgers. And not just one utility player and bullpen arm. More like the entire starting lineup.

You know Matt Kemp is on the disabled list for the second time this season, and has only played in 36 games. Second baseman Mark Ellis, who was off to a hot start, suffered a scary leg injury and is out at least another month. Juan Uribe was expected to play third base after a season of injuries in 2011 but 2012 has been no better. Here’s the lineup manager Don Mattingly rolled out for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies last week:

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Yeah, these headlines are getting pretty, pretty goofy. I suppose that’s what happens with a week off from the Impact Index. You did notice we were gone last week, right?

With time off for the Memorial Day holiday in America, we have a lot of ground to cover. This week, we’re focusing on the best and worst in pinch hitting over the last two weeks. In the National League West. For the last-place San Diego Padres. By former starter but now utility player Jesus Guzman.

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Impact Index: Getting Eveland

Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays who frequent these parts know all too well about Dana Eveland. The soft-tossing lefty started nine games for the Jays in 2010, winning three, losing four, and posting an unimpressive 6.45 ERA. It was so unimpressive that the Jays designated Eveland for assignment and then traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jays fans, among others, likely lost interest in Eveland’s career after his short stint north of the border.

I’ll catch you up; it won’t take long.

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There have been 2,681 appearances by a relief pitcher so far this season. Three of the worst bullpen performances by Win Probability Added took place on Friday night. In the same game. Three of the best bullpen performances by Win Probability Added also took place on Friday night. In the same game.

The same game.

The match up in question pitted the Chicago Cubs against their National League Central rivals the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Matt Garza was on the mound for the Cubs, sporting a 2-1 record and a 2.67 ERA in five starts. Crafty lefty Randy Wolf took the ball for the Brewers with a less impressive record: 2-3 and a 6.68 ERA in six starts. It was a pitchers’ duel through the first six innings, with the Brewers holding a 1-0 lead.

Jose Veras came on for the Brewers in the top of the 7th after Travis Ishikawa pinch hit for Wolf in the 6th. After getting Wellington Castillo to ground out, Veras gave up a triple to Darwin Barney, hit Ian Stewart and walked Reed Johnson to load the bases for the Cubs with one out. Veras departed with a -.192 WPA for his troubles, replaced by Kameron Loe. With the bases loaded, David DeJesus stepped to the plate and did this:

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