Patrick Saunders has an exceptional profile of Tyler Matzek. The root of Matzek's pitching troubles appears to be performance anxiety. Interestingly, but unsurprisingly after thinking about it for a moment, this was something that began in late 2014. His excellence on the mound late that season created additional pressure to not just succeed in the same manner, but to exceed expectations the following year.
Based on a conversation with Matzek at his home in southern California, Saunders presents a great deal of statements from Matzek about the pressures of pitching professionally. His words access is the fact that baseball is designed to defeat everyone who plays it. The outcomes of the game itself are at once predictable and random. A bad luck streak can nudge one's psychological balance into disarray. At the same time, a stretch of good luck, one might determine, can fool observers, but the smoke and mirrors act of baseball's whims can't fool the player. Looking closely at each of Matzek's 2015 starts, it is evident that he was off the entire time, not just the final, disastrous, start against Arizona. Matzek recognized this, and it fueled the stress and pressure he felt.
The best aspect of Saunders's article is that it shows Tyler Matzek to be all too human. Baseball players are not a species apart. They're like us. Like us, they have to manage the difficulties and stresses of daily life. The pressure to perform that Matzek describes to Saunders will cause a lot of readers from many backgrounds to relate.
In June, Ryan Freemyer and I looked closely at Matzek's mechanical changes from 2014 to 2015. We knew that the mechanical issue was not an isolated problem, but we had no way to fit that piece of the puzzle into the big picture. Saunders's profile of Matzek gets us a step closer to understanding.
Michelle Stalnaker reviews Tom Murphy's 2015. Like Jordan Freemyer here a few weeks ago, she notes that Murphy played well enough to earn serious consideration to break camp with the Rockies next season. Stalnaker identifies Murphy's power as a bright in his 11 games and 39 plate appearances. She points out his 25 percent strikeout rate as something to work on. Finally, the defensive profile remains hazy. What it all amounts to is an interesting young player who will garner a lot of attention heading into spring training.
Baseball Hall of Fame aficionado Jay Jaffe is in the process of profiling every player eligible to be voted in. This introduction explains the system he uses to analyze every players' candidacy, JAWS. While objectivity does not exist, Jaffe's approach comes pretty close to being impartial. He uses a player's career rWAR and seven year peak rWAR and pits it against players from the same position already enshrined in Cooperstown. They are the peers against which the players are judged. Jaffe has already begun publishing individual profiles, each of which is worth reading.