|Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images|
A few weeks ago, like most people I had completely written off Juan Rivera as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays roster.
Back on April 17th he was hitting a paltry .103 and was at the centre of a maelstrom of scrutiny after he just flat out did not appear to be interested in playing for the Blue Jays.
It all came to a head after he refused to slide into a double play and just tiptoed into second base, making no effort to even break up the double play whatsoever. It was an inexcusable baserunning gaffe to say the least.
My how things can change in just a mere few weeks, because Juan Rivera might just be my new favourite Blue Jay.
Aside from how he’s turned his season around on the field, Juan Rivera was also at the centre of some controversy surrounding Justin Verlander’s no-hitter. Shi Davidi reported that Rivera said to Verlander’s face that he got “lucky”.
I believe think there’s a little bit of truth to that statement. Whenever a pitcher tosses a no-hitter and only strikes out three batters like Verlander did or just two like Francisco Liriano, it seems more about the defense than it does the pitcher.
Pitching to contact is an excellent strategy and is a great way to keep the pitch count down. It just so happened that all those pop-ups and grounders were hit to the right people at the right time, so there was some luck involved there.
Although it may have been a controversial thing to say, at least Juan Rivera had the decency to say that to Justin Verlander’s face rather than in the clubhouse during the post-game media scrum.
One can’t say whether Rivera was just trying to get into Verlander’s head or if he truly believed Verlander got lucky, but that may have been a situation where it’s better to just keep those thoughts as internal dialogue.
Luck plays such a huge part in the game of baseball: there are lucky bounces, lucky calls, and lucky guesses. Just take a look at the statistic batting average on balls in play (BABIP).
Justin Verlander just so happened to be on the right side of the luck scale on Saturday, but it was his skill that helped tip the scale in his favour.