Zack Greinke turns 29-years-old on Sunday. While I’m sure his friends and family are getting sentimental gifts like overstuffed pinatas and that sweater he really wanted, Greinke will have to wait for his big present a little longer. The soon-to-be top free agent starting pitcher is about to have multiple MLB teams lined up with gift wrapped boxes full of cash. He’ll finally be able to afford one of those monkeys that rides a dog like a horse that he’s always wanted (I assume).
Greinke came to the Angels from the Brewers around the July trade deadline for a bushel of Halo top prospects. From August 24 to September 25, Greinke looked like the ace the Angels were looking for to make a playoff run. Over those 50 innings, Greinke had a 1.62 ERA with 47 strikeouts to 11 walks. Unfortunately, in his other 39.1 Angel innings, he allowed 26 earned runs and six home runs. But that won’t stop him from signing a $130 million contract soon.
Greinke is probably just outside of that top tier of aces in MLB but he’s been the best pitcher on the planet as recently as 2009. How good was Greinke? The 2.16 ERA, 9.50 K/9 and 2.00 BB/9 were shiny and all but his 10.1 rWAR (Baseball-Reference wins above replacement) was otherworldly. There have only been 20 occasions that a pitcher has earned a 10 or higher rWAR since 1921. In the past 20 years, Greinke is in the 10 WAR club with Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. He won the Cy Young that year but finished 17th in MVP voting behind Bobby Abreu and Michael Young. Of course, Placido Polanco and new swivel chairs also got votes proving writers are zany.
With Matt Cain and Cole Hamels locked up prior to Hot Stove season, Greinke will have all of the usual suspects knocking on his door. The Angels have made signing Greinke priority number one but the Yankees, Rangers, Dodgers, Royals, mystery team, Nippon Ham Fighters and the red Boston team from RBI Baseball figure to be in the mix as well.
Before the stress of the free agency process, let’s just wish Zack a happy birthday with mild threats of the stink eye if he chooses a non-Anaheim destination for the next five or six years.
I do so enjoy these birthday posts. Without them, it feels strange having ice cream cake and scotch for breakfast.