Fernandez, Machado impressing at age 20
June, 15, 2013
By Will Cohen, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Al BehrmanJose Fernandez has been one of just a few bright spots for the Marlins this season
Last season, we saw Bryce Harper and Mike Trout represent the small segment of Major League players unable to legally purchase alcoholic beverages as the only two All-Stars under the age of 21.
This year, we could very well be in line to see a new pair of bright young stars represent that same demographic at the All-Star game.
Fernandez coming into his own
20-year old Jose Fernandez broke camp with the Miami Marlins without any Minor League experience beyond A-ball, but the first 13 starts of his MLB career have been nothing less than stellar.
He's posted a 3.11 ERA to go along with 9.6 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, fourth-most in the NL.
But he reached a new high on Friday, racking up a career-high 10 strikeouts against the best team in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals entered ranked first in the NL in batting and runs per game, and notably, they were the NL's second-hardest team to strike out (behind the San Francisco Giants).
Fernandez became the first pitcher under the age of 21 to record 10 strikeouts since Felix Hernandez did so in 2007.
Known for a blistering fastball (94.7 avg MPH, 4th in MLB), the Cuban defector picked up each of his strikeouts via the breaking ball (highlights here).
What makes Fernandez' breaking ball, nicknamed 'The Defector,' good enough to hold batters to a .146 BA in at-bats ending with pitch? Horizontal movement.
The pitch has averaged nearly a full 10 inches of movement from right to left (pitcher's perspective), an amount only exceeded by Clay Buchholz' curveball among ERA qualified starters.
Machado piling up the doubles
In the AL, Manny Machado has not stopping hitting after a hot start. With three more hits on Friday, he increased his MLB-leading total to 95 on the season. And two of those hits were doubles, his 29th and 30th of the year.
He has eight more doubles than Gerardo Parra (22) who ranks second in MLB.
No player in the Live-Ball era (since 1920) has ever knocked more two-baggers through his team's first 68 games under the age of 22 (see chart).
Machado's current rate of double production puts him on pace for 71 this season, a mark that would break Earl Webb's all-time mark for a single season of 67 which he set in 1931.