“He was born with them,” said Jan Scherzer, Max’s mother. “Then he was 4 months old. I looked down at my baby, and he had a blue and green eye. Very clearly. I have pictures and everything. I took him to the pediatrician shortly after that, and he said, `They may go back and forth. They may change again this year.’ As the year went on, the blue eye got bluer, and the green eye changed to brown.
“And it was amazing. That night, on Johnny Carson, the actress Jane Seymour was on. She had different-colored eyes. It was just such a coincidence. She was talking about all the flak she’d taken growing up. She’s a beautiful woman. She did OK. We always made a big deal to Max that he was special, that it wasn’t something wrong.”
In grade school, when Max drew a cat or dog or giraffe, he always chose dissimilar colors for their eyes. On parent-teacher night, Brad and Jan could immediately tell which drawing hanging on the wall was their son’s.
– Jeff Passan, Kansas City Star, March 4, 2005.
If you haven’t noticed by now you certainly will sometime early in tonight’s Game 4 matchup between the Yanks and Tigers: Max Scherzer, the Detroit right-hander aiming to end the Bombers’ season, has heterochromia iridum, a 1-in-500 genetic anomaly that produces two different colored eyes. As Passan’s article notes, it prompted a lot of teasing until he started establishing himself as a pro-caliber athlete, much in the way I assume the name “Keena Turner” did. When you’re striking out more than a batter an inning with a fastball you can dial up to the high 90s, this looks especially awesome:
But that’s hardly the only interesting thing about Scherzer. In college, at the behest of his economics-major younger brother, Scherzer became interested in baseball’s advanced metrics — a Brian Bannister with the stuff to do damage.
In a 2009 article for the Arizona Republic, Nick Piecoro described Scherzer’s understanding of the whims of batting average on balls in play, a knowledge that likely helped him through some adversity in 2012. In front of the Tigers’ LOLtastic defense, Scherzer yielded a .333 BABIP, second highest in the Majors — trailing only teammate Rick Porcello. It’s hard to imagine a Major Leaguer would ever go on record saying as much, but perhaps it’s no coincidence that Scherzer’s strikeout rate spiked and ground-ball percentage dipped the same year the Tigers shifted Miguel Cabrera to third and imported Prince Fielder to play first.
The article notes that Scherzer’s brother occasionally teases him via text message about becoming a four-win (above replacement-level) pitcher. This year, per Fangraphs, he was worth 4.6 wins. By baseball-reference’s version of the same stat, he was worth exactly 4.
It also seems worth noting that Scherzer came to the Tigers along with pitchers Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth and center fielder Austin Jackson in a three-way trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks before the 2010 season. By Fangraphs’ version of WAR, the Diamondbacks’ acquisitions have yielded them about 19.7 wins in the three seasons since — 7.2 of them from Daniel Hudson, acquired in a trade for Jackson in the middle of the 2010 season. Granderson has been worth 13.2 wins to the Yankees.
Scherzer, Jackson, Coke and Schlereth have combined to be worth 26.6 wins to the Tigers since the start of the 2010 season. In that time, they have made, in total, about the same amount of money Granderson did this season alone. And all of them are under team control through arbitration for at least the next two seasons.