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Javy's homer rate

You’ve heard this from me before, but I’ve been trying to lose weight. I’ve been successful this time around and am down a nice handful of pounds, though I have gotten so zeppelin-like that it’s difficult to tell—though I was accosted by a professional sushi vendor the other day and told that I could bring $250 a pound at auction in Tokyo. He was so disappointed when I convinced him I wasn’t a carp.

Yesterday, as I made my usual rounds of doctor’s offices, I spent the time listening to Sirius/XM’s MLB Radio, a channel I quite enjoy and have been fortunate enough to occasionally appear as a guest. The commercials, though, were hard on a man who hasn’t eaten, or eaten as much as he might like to, in about six weeks. "Presenting the fantastic new diet product, STUFF-U-SHAKE! We’ve impregnated each glass of STUFF-U-SHAKE with alphaprobathyominedroxyl™! This revolutionary new compound is not only delicious, but it accelerates your metabolism to a place that nature is incapable of achieving on its own, helping you shed pounds while standing stock still, as if a bear were stalking you. And because alphaprobathyominedroxyl™! is derived from industrial packing materials, you will feel as full as if you had just eaten a spring-fattened buttered boar! No more feeling hungry, ever! Just one dose of STUFF-U-SHAKE and your appetite will permanently cease to exist! Yes, you will be a mere ghost of yourself in days with STUFF-U-SHAKE! (Warning: Stuff-U-Shake is not FDA approved, nor has it been reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Do not consume if pregnant. Do not even look at Stuff-U-Shake if your name is Alex Rodriguez as there will be hell to pay when the media finds out. Weight loss is dependent on your actual diet and not guaranteed by Stuff-U-Shake.)

When a man is driving down the highway, knowing that at home he will tuck in to a dinner of lettuce, tomato, and aspirin while the rest of his family dines as if it’s Orson Welles Day on TCM, these commercials are hard to take. There are no shortcuts. I’ve had enough surgeries, thank you, so I’m not bypassing anything voluntarily. I shouldn’t have gotten here in the first place, and while I feel like I have some legitimate excuses, medically speaking, it doesn’t change the fact that I earned it and now the only way out is that I have to pay it back, bit by bit until it’s all gone. No pain no gain. Also, no apple pie a la mode no gain. Calories in, calories out, and no magical elixirs—but, oh, how I want one!

The average American League pitcher allows about one home run per nine innings pitched (.94), which is about 20 in 200 innings. Javier Vazquez, scary-yet-effective fly ball guy, allows 1.5 home runs per nine innings, or about 34 in 200 innings. While Vazquez has mostly pitched well (3.11 ERA) since mid-May, or about the same moment that Phil Hughes started pitching badly, and the home run rate has declined a bit as the year has gone on, but remains above average and probably will, as home runs are just the way the guy rolls.

Vazquez’s home runs are what makes him such a bad bet in the postseason. He doesn’t discriminate as to who gets to knock one over the wall. Real power hitters like Andruw Jones, Hideki Matsui and Carlos Pena have taken him deep this year, but so have Travis Buck, Bobby Wilson, Mark Kotsay and Willy Aybar. This is one reason why his career postseason record, brief though it is, is so miserable: facing better lineups, the home run rate jumps up. In 15.2 postseason innings, he’s allowed six home runs, or 3.4 per nine innings. At that point he’s not pitching, he’s throwing batting practice. He may be the quintessential example of a pitcher who can give excellent value to a team in the regular season but none once they get to October.

The Yankees almost certainly won’t see the two teams with the most home runs in the AL in the postseason, as the Red Sox and Blue Jays seem certain to go home. The White Sox (if they hold on in the central) and the Rangers also have their share of power hitters, and the latter plays in a ballpark more than a little conducive to home run hitting. This brings us back to the postseason question we’ve been asking throughout the July trading-fever period: after Sabathia and Pettitte, if Pettitte, who?

• Forgot to mention that over at Baseball Prospectus as part of a just-for-fun look at manager’s best-of teams, I have the Whitey Herzog All-Stars. One former Yankee on there, one should-have-been-a-Yankee (or at least a Yankees property that should have been given away for more. I have Ralph Houk and Joe Torre coming up next in the series (free).

• After a layoff due to all my recent family medical fun, I have a new original tune up at, a true story about my meeting a girl who talked to the animals and felt certain that they talked back. I had to call it "Twilight Bark." I hope you enjoy.