Monday, February 29, 2016

Affordable Electricity: In Defense of Mike Pelfrey

Danville, Kentucky -- Our society takes electricity for granted. It keeps our houses warm in winter, and cools them down in summer. Electricity keeps the freezer icy so we can have chilled Fireball on demand. Electricity brought us the gift of Buffalo Wild Wings, and its techno-utopian panoply of massive plasma-screen televisions; so that no man would be forced to miss out on a pivotal sporting event while using the facilities. Each successive generation of Americans tries to guarantee that the country we bestow upon the next generation is even greater than the one we inherited from our mothers and fathers. My generation is able to simultaneously utilize a Buffalo Wild Wings restroom and watch a baseball game, thanks to the wisdom of previous generations of Americans and the miracle of affordable electricity.

Affordable electricity: a phrase that perfectly describes right-handed pitcher Mike Pelfrey, yet seems quaint in the age of Obama and his energy-strangling regulations. Mike Pelfrey, who once donned the lightning-yellow attire of the Wichita State Shockers, knows all about electricity.

Pelfrey Will Shock his Doubters

Make no mistake: a brief look at Pelfrey's resume and his pitching arsenal reveals a man that is both electric and affordable. Financially speaking, 2 years and 16 million dollars is a small price to pay for a man that will anchor a Detroit rotation that was woefully over-reliant on untested farmhands like Buck Farmer, Kyle Ryan, and Shane Greene last season. Signing Pelfrey is a slick depth move that will give youngbloods like Matt Boyd and Michael Fulmer time to cut their teeth in the minor leagues.

His arsenal is impressive as well. With his Tommy John surgery now further back in the rear-view mirror, his velocity was up last season. He throws his fastball hard and his offspeed pitches soft, featuring a wicked splitter and sinker that keeps hitters off balanceMr. Pelfrey stands to be a major beneficiary of the recently-improved Tigers defense as well.

In spite of the signing's obvious logic, the acquisition of Mike Pelfrey by the Detroit Tigers has become one of the most maligned moves of the offseason, with the basement-dwellers at Fangraphs calling it the #9 worst move of the offseason. Eno Sarris and his disciples disparage the Pelf's xFIP, claiming that his Ks are declining faster than Rubio's chances at becoming the Republican nominee.
Metrics don't like him; people who watch the game with their own two eyeballs do. I'm a longtime fan of Pelf, and considered him All-Star worthy last year. The Tiger scouts know what they saw when they told Al Avila to sign him. Even Dartmouth nerd Brad Ausmus got it right when he said the Pelfrey signing was based on "the eye test."

It would be a mistake more grave than hosting a private email server to believe that Pelfrey has nothing to contribute to the 2016 Tigers. Like the 2016 Tigers, the 2015 Twins were pronounced dead on arrival by the pre-season projections. When the 2015 Twins defied the proclamations of nerds and outperformed their projections, it was in no small part due to Pelfrey's suave stylings and steady leadership. Thanks to Pelfrey's contributions the 2015 Twins had a winning record and were playoff contenders, finishing second-place in the AL Central after every analyst (other than me) pegged them as a last-place team. There isn't an arm in the league you'd rather have on your side if your season depends on proving the nerds wrong.

Mike is a Man of Character with a Proven Track Record

Not only can Pelfrey beat the odds: he can beat the Royals.

The 2016 Tigers need to beat the 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals™ if they want to contend. Fortunately for the Tigers, Mike Pelfrey has been able to do what David Price, Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom couldn't do: beat the Royals. The Twins were undefeated in Mr. Pelfrey's 3 starts versus Kansas City last season, including a merciless shutout against the team that would eventually take the crown. Compare that to supposed ace Chris Sale; the White Sox lost both his starts versus the Royals last season. The path to the AL Central pennant runs through Kansas City, an aggressive hitting team that doesn't strikeout or walk. Against a team like that, you need a guy like Pelfrey who can produce weak contact and let the defense do the rest.

More important than Pelfrey's velocity or his ground-ball percentage is his fortitude. Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas -- a city I like to think of as the Detroit of the Heartland because of its manufacturing acumen -- Mr. Pelfrey is a man who knows rust, weathered iron, and billowing smoke stacks like the back of his hand. He's an underdog man from an underdog city. He will fit in well playing in the Motor City. This is a man who has stayed true to his roots; he was a Met, but there are no New York Values here -- just good old fashioned Mid West decency and work ethic.

Work ethic is perhaps the singularly most discounted factor in an era of STEAMER, ZiPs, and FIP. A man's K% or HR/FB ratio may regress, but work ethic doesn't. Hard work is what made America great, and it is what will make America great again. In lesser countries, wantonly consuming electricity with countless televisions in a sports bar would be considered excessive. But in America, it is my God given right to drunkenly bumble into a restroom full of flat screen TVs that are covered in the buffalo-sauce fingerprints of the great men who came before me. I believe in Buffalo Wild Wings. I believe in America. I believe in Mike Pelfrey.