With Jeremy Guthrie officially being traded this week to the Colorado Rockies, I want to look back at five things that I will fondly remember about Jeremy Guthrie and his time in Baltimore.
5. Fan & Media Interaction
Given that he is a graduate of Stanford University, it isn’t too surprising that Jeremy Guthrie has been one of the more intelligent interviewees on the Orioles in recent history. In formal and informal settings, Guthrie is always interesting, well thought-out and diplomatic – traits that served him well as the O’s player representative. Few pitchers in baseball that have pitched as well as Guthrie over the past few years have as little (in terms of wins) to show for it. Over the past couple of years, the lack of run support in games Jeremy started became somewhat of a running joke around Baltimore. Guthrie always took the high road, never blamed teammates for the lack of run support, and was always quick to remind reporters that team wins, not individual wins, are what matters. Even when his teammates let him down in the most dramatic fashions imaginable, Guthrie never resorted to finger pointing or self-pity.
Jeremy also bonded with the fans and Baltimore community. Although I am a relative latecomer to Twitter, he was probably my Orioles favorite player to follow in that medium. He has a subtle and dry sense of humor that comes through in that setting. I never got any impression that during his time in Baltimore that he was anything less than a stand up human being, which is something that cannot be said for too many professional athletes.
4. Pinch Running
Who doesn’t enjoy a good “player playing outside of his normal position” moment? It can be a position player having to pitch an inning in a blowout, an outfielder ending up at shortstop, or a team losing its DH for several innings in a tight game. Those unusual situations always create a lasting memory and the same can be said for Jeremy Guthrie’s pinch running appearances for the Orioles. My recollection was that Guthrie served as a pinch runner on a half dozen or more occasions, but it was actually only four times. He twice scored a run as a pinch runner, with the more memorable of the two coming when he scored a run in the memorable 2009 game where the Orioles came back from 10 runs down to beat the Red Sox, 11-10.
3. Innings Eater
On a team that has constantly struggled in recent years to get innings out of their starting pitchers, Jeremy Guthrie was usually the lone bright spot for the O’s in that regard. He hit the 200 IP mark the past three seasons and got to 190 IP in 2008. He pitched deep into games many times, saving the bullpen from being additionally over-worked. He wasn’t just a warm body to throw out on the mound for 200 innings per season. 43 times during his tenure with the Orioles, Jeremy pitched seven or more innings in starts where he let up two runs or less. That’s not bad for five seasons of work. Guthrie’s stamina can most likely be attributed to the fact that he keeps himself in tremendous shape, as he is famously known to ride his bicycle to OPACY every day when the team is at home.
2. Entrance Music
When you go to sixty or more games during the course of a season, you start to pay attention to the little nuances of the ballpark experience. Take players’ “entrance music” for example. It gets to the point where you don’t even have to be paying attention to the field; you know who is coming up or coming into pitch simply by the song playing over the PA system. Players generally pick one song and stick to it for the entire season. Jeremy Guthrie took another approach in 2011, rotating through a handful of songs throughout the course of the season, often taking to Twitter to allow the fans to decide what song he should take the mound to when it was his night to start. It wasn’t just the rotating collection of songs that was notable, the song selections themselves were equally as memorable. In 2011, Jeremy took to the mound before the first inning to songs by Usher, the Backstreet Boys, and Justin Bieber, just to name a few. Not exactly you’re the typical song selection one would expect from a professional athlete. Every 5th day during the O’s upcoming season won’t be the same for Tim and I without the intrigue of guessing what song Guthrie is going to take the mound to on that night.
1. Getting the most out of his ability
During his tenure with the Orioles, Jeremy Guthrie consistently outperformed his peripheral statistics. His strikeout numbers, walk numbers, and GO/FO ratio, among other statistics, all suggested that he shouldn’t have had as much success as he did. Early on in games, Guthrie often looked like the pitcher that the numbers suggested he should be – somewhat wild, not overpowering stuff, and homerun prone. Before you knew it, the O’s were down 2, 3, or 4 runs and Guthrie was on the ropes. Just as quickly however, it would all of a sudden be the 7thinning, Guthrie was still in the game and more importantly, no additional damage had been done. A few examples out of many: May 26, 2011, August 8, 2011, May 13, 2008.
With the O’s, Guthrie had a knack for settling in after a rough start and turning a game around. Whatever the reason was – the ability to adjust to batters, some internal ability to bear down after a rough start – isn’t really important. Jeremy Guthrie has always been a guy that has gotten more out of his ability than the numbers would suggest he should be able to and that was never more evident than in these games. Guthrie was given the nickname “Guts” playing for the Orioles. Although the nickname is obviously a shortening of his last name, it is certainly an appropriate description of his pitching style as well.