Zack Greinke has earned an award that he can add to his growing list of accomplishments. Per the Los Angeles Times, Greinke was named winner of the 10th annual Roy Campanella Award. The honor is given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame Dodger’s catcher.
The award is not a trivial deal. It’s voted upon by Dodger uniformed personnel. Greinke is scheduled to receive the award from Joni Campanella Roan, Campanella’s daughter, during Sunday’s pregame ceremonies.
Zack Greinke is having the season of a lifetime. A dream come true.
His 1.68 earned-run average is over 50 percent better than the league average. Even Greinke’s 2009 season, when he won his first and only Cy Young Award, falls short of his 2015 season. Greinke also leads the major leagues in winning percentage (18-3,.857) and WHIP (0.85). He looks primed for another. Traditional pitching statistics, the backbone of Cy Young Award voting since the award was invented, all present a strong case for Greinke. His 18 wins are a career high and his ERA is on pace to be the lowest in the majors since Greg Maddux (1.63) in 1995.
Zack Greinke is a thinker. He gets inside the batter’s head. The Los Angeles Daily News quotes Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
“At our place he threw me a 3-1 changeup. Not many guys throw me a 3-1 changeup. Then he backs me up with another one and I roll over on it.”
Saltalamacchia has two hits in 13 plate appearances against Zack Greinke in his career. He’s also struck out five times. Several players have described Greinke as being inside their heads at the plate. One of those players was Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. His stats are some of the beast in the league, for the 2015 season. His 41 home runs and 126 RBIs are tops in baseball. But Arenado has only five hits in 24 plate appearances against Greinke.
With his teammate, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke is part of one of the best one-two punches in baseball. Together they are tops in the league, in every major category. No other starter has 10 wins, or an ERA anywhere near Greinke and Kershaw’s. Like the 1964 team that showcased Koufax and Drysdale, this year’s version of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a huge drop-off with the rest of the starters.
Greinke was primarily a shortstop when he started playing baseball at Apopka High School. He had a batting average over .400 with 31 home runs in his high school career. Zack was used primarily as a relief pitcher, as a sophomore and junior, before becoming a starting pitcher as a senior. After the high school season ended, he played in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Classic and impressed pro scouts with his performance against some of the best hitters in the country.
In his breakout year of 2009, Greinke’s record for the season was 16-8, and he posted an ERA of 2.16, the lowest in MLB. On October 21, he was named American League Pitcher of the Year by Sporting News. Sparse run support gave him three less wins than CC Sabathia, yet his overall numbers garnered the prestigious award.
Greinke had a 45 and two thirds innings scoreless streak, earlier in the year. With that stretch, he threatened to have the lowest ERA in a season since Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 for the 1985 Mets. The Dodgers are 41-22 in Greinke’s and Kershaw’s starts this season. They are 47-47 in starts by other pitchers. Zack and Clayton have produced over 50 percent of the Dodgers’ wins.
Zack Greinke is rewriting the record books. He’s won the Roy Campanella award. Now his sights are set on Cy Young. His season isn’t over yet.
[Photos by Stephen Dunn / Getty Images]