Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong has a nifty excuse for his struggles in 2013. It's not the broken finger that he suffered in the middle of May, it's not the fact that he's 36, it's not the fact that some fortunate peripherals pointed to an implosion. No, Vogelsong has "some questions" about whether or not his struggles are because of his participation in the World Baseball Classic in March, an idea he floated to CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly during an interview.
“I definitely have some questions whether the WBC hurt me or not,” said Vogelsong, who had electric stuff in his two starts for Team USA. “But I doubt myself more for swinging at that pitch, because that’s something I could have controlled."
“The WBC … it’s a valid question,” Vogelsong said. “I’m just not sure. The only way we’ll have an answer is to have an offseason of rest and come back next year. I plan on coming back strong and having a great year, and then we can blame this on the WBC if you want.”
Hey, Ryan? You had an an amazing pair of seasons in 2011 and 2012 after not playing in the majors since 2006. You earned a two year, $8 million contract following that 2011 season, and you might make $6.5 million in 2014 if the Giants pick up your club option. You earned a spot on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic this past spring. Blaming your awful season on the WBC is a cop out to the fullest extent.
During the WBC, Vogelsong threw a total of 9 2/3 innings and 123 pitches over the one week of game action. Vogelsong's velocity before breaking his finger this year (over the months of March, April, and May) was consistent, though it did increase a significant amount from April to May, just like it did in both 2011 and 2012. Since returning from the broken finger, none of his pitches have been close to what they were.
Hmmmm…we can either blame the WBC that happened six months ago, or we can blame the more recent injury that has seemingly had a significant effect on Vogelsong's pitching. Age, the broken finger, and hitters being more patient with Vogelsong have destroyed him this year. We might be able to add in a slight amount of the "WBC effect", but it's not as if Vogelsong's elbow snapped in half two months into the year and we can directly point the finger at the WBC. If he doesn't break his finger during that May start against the Nationals, who knows what his season looks like?
This is what happens with players once they get to the wrong side of 30. RA Dickey hasn't been great this year, and it's not because of the WBC – it's because he's old and his velocity is dropping. It happens. Passing the buck to the WBC is just silly.