Archive for February 23rd, 2016

No Big Story Here

Posted by on Tuesday, 23 February, 2016

The Fantastic 4

February 18, 2016
New York Yankees 2016 Spring Training


By Rocky Julich

He was born on February 28, 1988 in Holguin, Cuba. His dad is Jamaican, his mother is Cuban. He will celebrate his 28th birthday as a pitcher’s Closer on the 2016 New York Yankees team. The left-hander is 6’4” tall and weights 215 lbs.

During July, 2009, Aroldis Chapman defected from Cuba to the United States while pitching in a baseball tournament in the Netherlands. According to Chapman, he simply left his room at the Domina Hotel in Rotterdam and went down to the lobby “got in a car and left”.

Chapman was originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds on January 11, 2010 to a six-year, 30.25M contract, extending through the 2015 season. A National League All-Star in each of the last four seasons (2012-15). He is the only relief pitcher ever to be named to four All-Star teams while playing for the Reds. He tossed the ninth inning for the National League in the All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park, striking out all three batters faced.

In the home clubhouse at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, Aroldis Chapman most often sat quietly at his locker before games, perhaps because of a cultural or language barrier, he rarely spoke to anyone. He seemed to stand alone among the Cincinnati players.

While consideration was being made to bring Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees, he was described to the Yankees as very quiet and private. A quiet personality. Introverted. Very careful about the people he let into his life. An exceptionally hard worker, with a work ethic off the charts. And, all Business. While the New York Yankees where mulling on getting Chapmen, the Manager Joe Girardi was consulted and asked for his advise regarding the signing.

Chapman went 4-4 with 33 saves and a 1.63 ERA (66.1 IP, 12 ER) in 65 relief appearances with the Reds in 2015. His 15.74K/9.0 IP ratio led all Major League relieves, while his 116 K ranked second behind Dellin Betances (131). He recorded his 500 career strikeout on July 19 vs. Cleveland, having reached the plateau in 292.0 IP to become the fastest to 500 K be innings pitched in Major League history (surpassed Craig Kimbrel’s record of 500 K in 305.0 IP, set earlier in 2015.

Since 1901, 746 pitchers have thrown at least 300 innings. Chapman is not only the all-time leader in strikeout percentage (42.9%), he is also leader in lowest batting average against .153. Already establishing incredible facts, Aroldis Chapman may be the hardest throwing regular pitcher baseball has ever seen. For certain, the hardest thrower of the hardest-throwing generation of pitchers.

According to MLB’s Statcast, Chapman threw the 62 fastest pitches in the Majors in 2015, with a high of 103.92 mph on June 29 (fouled off by Minnesota’s Brian Dozier). He also posted the highest average fastball velocity in the Majors (99.96 mph) ahead of Kansas City’s Kelvin Herrera (98.46).

Over six career Major League seasons (2010-15), Chapman has gone 19-20 with 146 saves, a 2.17 ERA (319.0 IP, 169 H, 77 ER, 155 BB, 546 K) and 1.02 WHIP in 324 relief appearances. Since 2010, he leads all Major League relievers with a 15.40 K/9.0 IP ratio and ranks second on strikeouts, trailing only Kimbrel (563). He is the only pitcher in Major League history with four seasons of a least 30 saves and 100 K, having done so in each of the last four seasons (2012-15). Only Eric Gagne (2002-2004) and Billy Wagner (1999, 2003, 2010) have had as many as three such seasons in their careers.

Aroldis Chapman has more career saves than any other Cuba born pitcher, surpassing Danys Baez’s record (114) on April 10, 2015 vs. St. Louis.

Yet, while in Cincinnati he had a penchant for finding trouble or trouble finding him. Allegations of weapons misuse, driving violations, social behavioral pattern and domestic issues.

On December 28, 2015 the New York Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds with a one-year non-guaranteed contract thus, avoiding arbitration. In the exchange with Cincinnati were included Yankees RHP Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davies and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda.

It is thought that Aroldis Chapman is a Yankee mostly because of his troubling off the field issues. To acquire him from the Cincinnati Reds, the Yankees took advantage of Chapman’s situation, which included the reliever’s pending free agency, by using a discounted Minor Leagues package.

It is questionable how the transition from a small market Cincinnati to the metropolis of New York will impact the phenom Cuban left-hander.

In the questionable transition, according to a police report, is the allegation that he choked his girlfriend and fired eight gunshots in the garage of his home in Davie, Florida. While the police decided not to charge Chapman, Major League Baseball, under its new Domestic Violence Policy, will make its own ruling. A suspension is possible, as it will be among the first rulings under the new Agreement in which the Players’ Association ceded authority to Commissioner Rob Manfred to make the final call and it is rumored that Manfred is being pressured to send a clear message.

Chapman has spoken to investigators from MLB concerning the domestic violence incident he’s alleged to have been involved in early in the off season and had nothing to clarify other than what was included in the Police Report. Through a translator he said “if disciplined by MLB, he would appeal any suspension”. “I understand everybody is worried about the issue, I understand everybody wants to know” Chapman said. “It’s something that is out of my hands and my main focus is to play baseball. I feel great, I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to get started”.

RTFR Radio – Stay tuned.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.