I'm not talking about the Beatles song, folks. I'm talking about the A's tendency to love players like Chad Bradford and now, AN's guest writer extraordinaire Brad Ziegler.
I love these guys because they're walking changeups. They're something that most batters don't know how to approach because most overhand or even 3/4 arm slot pitchers are coming at them from a consistent release point. The A's obviously feel the same way because they actively solicited Ziggy to make the switch in the minors as many of you already know.
It isn't just that these pitchers come with such a different look than most hitters are used to, it's that these guys are often extreme ground ball pitchers. Mike Myers was a lefty version of Chad Bradford, only he didn't really drop down as much as Bradford or even Ziegler. Myers had quite a few years where his ground ball/fly ball ratio was 2:1 or higher, but he also had a few years that were lower than that. That doesn't necessarily mean that his best ERA would correspond directly to that high GO/AO ratio because his best season he was over 3 in GO/AO and his ERA was up over four.
Ziggy has started off really well, obviously. He's got a ridiculous 4.50 GO/AO ratio. That's insane and yes, it's definitely a small sample size so it probably won't continue at that rate. Hell the best season that Chad Bradford had in terms of ground balls to fly balls was 2001 with the A's and that was 4.57. But it's a remarkable weapon to have coming out of the pen and I would imagine, hopefully, the thing that keeps Ziggy with the team.
As for me, I've always loved watching those guys. When Mike Myers was a free agent a couple of seasons ago, I'd hoped that the A's would sign him because he's so tough on lefties. There's just something about having a pitcher who not only isn't likely to give up a multi-run home run, but is often likely to induce a ground ball and an opportunity for the A's outstanding infield defense to turn a double play. It is also interested to me that, from my really poor memory, I can't really remember a starting pitcher throwing that way. I wonder if we'll see someone like that. I know that it would be a deterrent that usually the splits for pitchers like this are pretty extreme. Who knows, maybe there's already been a starting pitcher like that that I can't think of. I'm sure someone here will remind me.
Any way, I'm glad that the A's continue to value this kind of pitcher and the value that they bring to a roster. Chad Bradford was always one of the my faves coming out of the pen and Ziggy appears to be picking up right where he left off.