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In December of 2008, the Braves bought low in a trade with the White Sox on a 31 year old pitcher with 2 years of control, Braves One Year Wonder, Javier Vazquez.

Braves One Year Wonder, Javier Vazquez: How did he get here?

With the White Sox in 2008, Vazquez’s strikeout rate was a solid 8.6. His walk rate, 2.6. His FIP was a near full run less than his ERA of 4.67. Vazquez had also averaged over 200 innings per year for 8 years. The cost wasn’t cheap: Brent Lillibridge, Tyler Flowers, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez. However, only Tyler Flowers had any real long term impact at the MLB level and 2 of the 4 never reached the bigs. The trade was seen by nearly all of MLB as a landslide win for the Braves as Vazquez was believed to have ace stuff that was hidden due to a fluky high ERA. They were right.

Tim Hudson, Braves ace since being acquired in 2005, was on the shelf with the Tommy John bug and it was known he would miss most of 2009. In turn, Javier Vazquez was brought in to slot behind Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe in 2009 as the number 3 starter in a near fully rebuilt rotation with a back end of Kenshin Kawakami and Jojo Reyes (for a little while…at least long enough for the Braves to manipulate Tommy Hanson‘s arb-clock).

Braves One Year Wonder, Javier Vazquez

While the Braves revamped pitching staff wasn’t so revamped, as Derek Lowe was awful and Kenshin Kawakami was just bizarre, Javier Vazquez and Jair Jurrjens were both brilliant, pitching a combined 434.1 innings with a 2.74 ERA. Vazquez pitched 5 innings or more in every start in 2009, including 2 complete games, 4 he made it 8 innings, and 12 more where he pitched 7 full innings. Yes, more than 1/2 of his starts he pitched 7 innings or more.

He was especially dominant with strikeout stuff, carrying 3 serious plus pitches in a knee buckling curve, a disappearing sinker, and a fastball that looked as though it found extra life about 2/3 of the way to the plate. It was his 2nd best year of his career as he put up a 5.9 fWAR, a number that hasn’t been reached by any Braves pitcher since, and one would have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a pitcher that topped that performance: Greg Maddux.

Yankees: “Sorry, no Take-Backs”

Tim Hudson returned at the end of the 2009 season, pitched a handful of games, and was ready to take his place back at the top of the rotation. With money committed to both Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami, and Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens filling out the rotation, the Braves decided to sell high on Vazquez, sending him to the Yankees (along with Boone Logan, who just so happened to be in the original deal with the White Sox) for Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino. With only one year of control, this was also seen as a landslide win for the Braves, but we as Braves fans know better. Melky…what a wanker. *spoiler*

Thanks for reading on Braves One Year Wonder, Javier Vazquez. Check out the rest of the Wankers and Wonders here!