Monday, November 17, 2008

Tribute to 1992 Topps - Joakim Soria

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Joakim Soria is a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. I have followed his career since the 2006-2007 offseason. As a starter, he threw a perfect game in the Mexican Winter Leagues.

Shortly after making headlines, Soria was claimed by the Kansas City Royals in the Rule 5 Draft. Since then he has quickly ascended from middle reliever to all-star closer.

I have seen him pitch in person and it was quite a thrill. His arsenal of pitches reminds of me of Eric Gagne in that his pitches vary in speed by more than 10 mph. The most obvious example of this is his slow looping curveball, which is the most entertaining of his pitches to watch.

But the curveball is not Soria's only weapon. According to fangraphs.com, Soria has four pitches. This is pretty rare for a closer. He throws a fastball (91 mph), change (84 mph), slider (79 mph) and curve (69 mph). Like many pitchers he works off the fastball (73%). He mixes his offspead pitches well, throwing each them about 9% of the time.

Soria is also reported to throw a cutter, referred to by some as a "cut fastball." I'm not entirely sure why fangraphs doesn't show this. They may be lumping this into his "fastball" category if it doesn't act a whole lot different from his standard fastball. It is interesting to note, though, because this is the pitch that has made Mariano Rivera a surefire Hall of Famer.

In addition to being a good player, Soria seems like a nice guy and has a humble, gracious attitude. It is impossible to really know if he is a nice guy, as is the case with most professional athletes, but everything I have seen and read seems to indicate that Soria is a class act. It makes it easy to root for him.

He is probably my favorite player in the game today.

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