This from Bill James in 2012:
... and if Whitey Herzog got more production out of "pitchability" LHP's than most managers did, do you think that there was anything to this success beyond giving them an opportunity? Perhaps he could pick the good LHP's out of a pile because he had an ability to project intelligence, or grace and balance in their deliveries, or .... ?
Asked by: jemanji
Well, I vividly remember being in Herzog's office on September 26, 1978. Gura, then almost 31 years old, pitched a 3-hitter that day to beat Seattle 4-1, making him 16-4, and a reporter asked Whitey to what he attributed Gura's success. Gura was one of those pitchers. . .a guy with a modest fastball; he had waited a long, long time to get his chance, and he had bounced from team to team. "It's just a guy getting his opportunity and taking advantage of it," Herzog said.
I was very impressed with that answer, because it would have been so easy for Herzog to say something that suggested that he had played some role in Gura's emergence. "He's finally learned to use his changeup to set up his fastball," for example; who's going to prove that's not an accurate answer? Or "We've been working with him on establishing his fastball early in the early innings."
Instead, Herzog frankly admitted that Gura had ALWAYS been a good pitcher; he merely had lacked the opportunity to succeed. This implied that Herzog himself maybe should have given Gura an opportunity before he did. It was a simple answer of very unusual integrity. -- James
Beautiful. And we might ask that about "late bloomers" -- Justin Smoak and Mike Zunino got 2,100 and 1,500 at-bats because the ballclub was heavily invested in them (Cliff Lee trade, #3 draft pick overall respectively) and the ballclub NEEDED them to succeed.
It's rare that a team is going to say, "Look, we just blew the assessment on this kid." Maybe the D-Backs just blew it on Mitch Haniger (.290/.370/.490 in the minors) and Jerry Dipoto exploited that miscalculation.
Nick Vincent had a 2.35 ERA in 2015 and he had a 10.1/1.8/0.8 (!) slash line in 2014 -- and then traded him on March 30th for a PTBNL or cash. Not even Vincent himself can explain why his fastball gets so many SwStr's ... you may have heard that Aroldis Chapman leads the majors on swings and misses at his fastball, which F/X AVERAGED last year at 100.4 MPH; Nick Vincent was #2 in the majors with a fastball that averaged, as always, 89.9 MPH.
There are really no "Herzog / Gura" confessions to be made right now, that I see ... unless they're going to make it on Dan Vogelbach. If Vogelbach comes out this year and rakes for a .280/.400/.500 line, do you think they'll come up with a cover story about Vogelbach finally accepting their coaching to get himself straightened out? Or do you think they'll just frankly admit that Vogelbach was always a super-talented hitter, with a 1%'er batting eye, who needed an opportunity and some positive reinforcement?