Tuesday, September 3, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #56 JUAN GUZMAN


3 OUT PITCHES: FASTBALL, SLIDER, CHANGE.




NO RELATIONS TO BUBBA BLUE FROM FORREST GUMP.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • It didn't take Juan Guzman long to prove he belonged in the majors but it took a while for him to get there. Debuting in June 1991 after being signed in '84 out of the Dominican Republic, Guzman was 40-11, averaging 13 victories with a 3.28 ERA and 161 strikeouts in his first three seasons. The Blue Jays made the playoffs each year and won back-to-back World Series titles in '92 and '93. He benefited from a high-90s fastball and hard slider, both of which had incredible movement and resulted in him leading the majors twice in wild pitches. Add an effective changeup and it's no surprise Guzman missed a lot of bats during the prime of his 10-year career.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Guzman's maturation into a big-game pitcher was complete in Game 6 of the '92 ALCS against the Athletics. Pitching on Oct. 14 to get the Blue Jays into their first World Series, he went seven innings and allowed one earned run, striking out eight and walking two. The Jays cruised, 9-2.

DEFINING SEASON

  • His ALCS performance was not a surprise based on his regular-season numbers in '92. He finished the year 16-5 with a career-low 2.65 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 180.2 innings.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. He was an ALCS pitching savant in the early '90s, fashioning a 5-0 record, including going 2-0 in '92 and '93.
  2. Averaged 16 wild pitches in his first four seasons, most on that wicked slider.
  3. Originally signed by the Dodgers but battled control problems brought on by poor mechanics before being traded to the Jays for Mike Sharperson in '87.
  4. Led the AL in ERA (2.93) in '96.
  5. Played ball with #29 Ramon Martinez in Santo Domingo and both were signed at the same time by Dodger scout Ralph Avila. Some package deal.

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