Wildcard Wednesday: Of Ziegler, Fifi, and the Capitol Building

It has been a good while (literally, almost the entire summer, I believe) since the last Wildcard Wednesday post. Clearly it is time for a wee resurrection.

First, I have for you a tidbit that I would have shared weeks ago if I had been on the ball. Yahoo Sports puts out a list of fun, quirky MLB stat facts every year. This season’s edition included a fascinating bit about Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler, an alumni of my beloved New Market Rebels, and you must know by now that all such alums are huge favorites around here. I like to brag on their successes, which is why I must share what Jeff Passan had to say about Brad’s achievements this year.

As great as his relief peers’ accomplishments may be, what Brad Ziegler is doing this season is a hundred times more unfathomable.

The 32-year-old Ziegler already is something of a freak as an Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher. He’s a pure sidearmer whose fastball floats in around 86 mph, the eighth-slowest among pitchers with at least 50 innings. To make up for his lack of velocity, Ziegler sinks the sucker like the Lusitania, sinks it so hard that he makes opposing hitters turn into Jeter.

Ziegler’s flyball rate this season is 6.9 percent. That is not a misprint. Ziegler has thrown 712 pitches this season. Hitters have lifted 10 of those as flyballs. Nobody has popped out. Nobody has hit a home run. Nobody can do much with a Brad Ziegler sinker.

The previous low flyball rate also was owned by Ziegler – and it was 13.4 percent, nearly double. Ziegler, as you might imagine, also is on pace to set a groundball-rate record at 72.9 percent, a smidgen better than Jonny Venters’ 72.5 percent last year. That makes another record he’s close to doubling: groundball-to-flyball ratio, where his 10.5 will top Venters and Cla Meredith’s 5.29.

Cool, right?

And now for the traditional Wildcard Wednesday stuff…

Today’s Birthdays:Gio Gonzalez, Jim Abbott, Joe Maddon, Joe Morgan (booo!), Duke Snider, and my grandma. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDMA!!! (And baseball guys).

On a less joyous note, these guys both kicked the bucket today: Jimi Hendrix (1970) and Frank Morgan (known best as the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz, 1949)

As for 9/19’s other historical occurrences:

-Cornerstone of the Capitol building is laid in Washington DC (1793)

I like the Capitol Building.

-The first US-made locomotive is outrun by a horse near Baltimore, MD (1830)
-The New York Times is born (1851)
-Phillies pitcher Chick Fraser no-hits the Cubs (1903)
-Major League Baseball sees its first black umpire (1972)
-Hurrican Fifi hits Honduras, killing 5,000 (1974). I’m sorry guys, I know this is really sad and serious, but I just can’t help thinking… who names a hurricane “Fifi”?
-Joe Kittinger completes the first solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic (1984)
-A 500 lb. Hershey’s Kiss is displayed in Times Square (1990). Sadly, I could find no pictures. Only this:

Disappointing, I know.

-Atlanta is chosed to host the 1996 summer Olympics (1990).

So, between that giant chocolate kiss and the Olympic selection, I’d say September 19th was a good day for America in 1990.

Have a great rest of the day/week, guys.

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