November 9, 1984 |
Chula Vista, California
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|April 3, 2006 for the Detroit Tigers|
(through 2010 season)
|Earned run average||3.05|
|Career highlights and awards|
Baseball career 
Zumaya was drafted out of Bonita Vista High School in the 11th round by the Tigers, the 320th overall selection of the 2002 MLB Draft. He was chosen because of his power arm, but it was not clear whether he would be able to develop adequate control of an off-speed pitch. He is known for his 100 MPH fastball.
Minor league career 
Zumaya began his stint in the Tigers minor league system as a starting pitcher. Because he was drafted straight out of high school, Zumaya frequently pitched against players older than himself. In 2003, the 18-year-old Zumaya made great strides pitching for the Low-A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps. 2004 saw Zumaya begin the year pitching for the High-A affiliate Lakeland Tigers, before a late season promotion to the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. He finished the season with a .500 win–loss record and struggled with walks. Zumaya began the 2005 season back in Erie; however, his results were much improved from 2004, and he was soon promoted to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. He finished the season with 199 strikeouts in 151 innings pitched. In 77 games over four seasons, Zumaya was 27–19, and averaged 6.4 hits and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Major league career 
Detroit Tigers (2006–2011) 
With the Tigers, he has most often been used as a middle relief pitcher and occasionally as a setup man, filling the innings after the starter has finished and before the closer has come in. Zumaya is a fan favorite for his intense, aggressive attitude on the mound and his 100 MPH fastball, which has topped out at 104.8 MPH. This was the fastest pitch ever recorded at that time. He also has a very good knuckle-curve that he uses as an off-speed pitch. He was among the primary reasons for the Tigers bullpen success in 2006, joining fellow rookie Justin Verlander on the resurgent 2006 Tiger team. However, Zumaya has been hampered by injuries to his throwing arm since his rookie season in 2006. He has yet to be an effective force since that season.
While he held batters to a .187 batting average in 2006, he was even tougher with runners in scoring position (.176), and two outs and runners in scoring position (.143). Zumaya remained in the bullpen for the 2006 playoffs. However, Zumaya was sidelined for the 2006 American League Championship Series by a sore wrist, which Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski disclosed in a December 2006 radio interview was due to Zumaya playing the PlayStation 2 video game Guitar Hero. On the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II, the credits read: No pitchers were harmed in the making of this game. Except for one. Joel Zumaya. He had it coming.
Zumaya's future was then clouded by injury: in May 2007, he ruptured a tendon in his hand, requiring surgery and 12 weeks rehab. On August 2, 2007, the Tigers activated Zumaya from the 15-day disabled list after not playing since May 1. The next day, he made his first major league appearance following the injury, pitching to one batter in a game against the Cleveland Indians.
Zumaya sustained another injury, this time to his shoulder, during the 2007 offseason. While helping his father move some boxes in the attic at his father's home in advance of a fire approaching the area, a 50–60 pound box fell on his right (pitching) shoulder, separating it.
He was placed on the 60-day disabled list at the start of the 2008 season. After appearing in six successful minor league rehab games for the Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers and Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, Zumaya rejoined the Tigers on June 20, 2008.
Zumaya was placed on the 15-day DL with a sore right shoulder on March 27, 2009. He was reactivated by the end of April; however, he was placed back on the 15-day DL following a July 18 appearance against the New York Yankees, where it was reported he could barely move his right (throwing) arm. Zumaya had surgery in August, ending his season.
On June 28, 2010, Zumaya injured his elbow in the eighth inning, while pitching against the Minnesota Twins' Delmon Young at Target Field. He was in obvious pain and needed assistance walking off the field. The next day an MRI revealed he had a non-displaced fracture of the olecranon. Doctors said it would take four months to heal, ending his season.
Zumaya missed the entire season after undergoing exploratory surgery on his right elbow on May 10. While the surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews found no new damage, it was determined that the screw inserted during his previous surgery needed to be replaced. He was unable to recover sufficiently to return to the team that season, his last before being able to enter free agency for the 2012 season.
Minnesota Twins (2012) 
On February 25, 2012, Zumaya tore an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery and ended his 2012 season. He was throwing a live batting practice session, when he felt a pain in his elbow after 13 pitches. He is guaranteed to earn $400,000 this year. He was released on March 3.
Record-setting fastballs 
During the 2006 season, Zumaya often threw pitches that were measured at or above the official record reading of 101 MPH. On July 3, 2006, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California, Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney each threw multiple fastballs measured in at over 100 MPH, becoming the first time in MLB history that three pitchers on the same team had done so during a game. Just five games into the season, they became the first MLB team to have the same three pitchers throw over 100 MPH in a season. On July 4, 2006, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California, Zumaya threw a pitch measured at 103 MPH, thus tying the "unofficial" record held by Mark Wohlers. Similarly, on May 20, 2006, Zumaya gave up a grand slam to Ken Griffey, Jr. on a pitch that FSN Detroit's radar gun measured at 104 MPH.
Zumaya hit 104 MPH on the Comerica Park radar gun on August 7 while pitching against Minnesota Twins infielder Nick Punto. Zumaya reached 101 MPH or higher on five of six pitches during the at-bat. He also reached 103 MPH during the Tigers' 4–3 playoff victory at Yankee Stadium on October 5, 2006; and also on October 10, 2006, during Game 1 of the ALCS in Oakland, against the A's.
In an interview for Detroit radio station WRIF, former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain stated that he believed the numbers on stadium and television radar guns were inflated. However, he also claimed that Zumaya had the most consistently fast pitches he had seen in person since Nolan Ryan and former Houston Astro J. R. Richard.
However, there is a new technology on the horizon that reads pitch speeds more accurately and does not inflate those numbers. It uses cameras and software to obtain the data. This new technology comes from Major League Baseball in its Advanced Media section. Part of Enhanced Gameday tracks pitch speed, break, and trajectory. One pitch registered on this was measured at 104.8 MPH at release by Joel Zumaya. This was during Game 1 of the ALCS against Frank Thomas of the Oakland Athletics on October 10, 2006, at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum (other readings were at 103 MPH; the slowest reading was 102 MPH).
After the 2006 season, The Bill James Handbook published a list of pitchers and the number of their pitches thrown at 100 mph or more. Zumaya led the major leagues with 233. Zumaya's average fastball was 98.6 MPH, with 100+ MPH fastballs coming one out of six pitches.
See also 
- Guitar hero? Pitcher hurt playing video game
- Dave Dombrowski on WXYT 12/13/2006
- "GUITAR HERO: Sequel strikes the perfect chord". CanWest News Service. 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- [sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3090054 "Zumaya hurts shoulder, might miss part of '08 season"] Check
|url=scheme (help). Retrieved 10 June 2012.
- Zumaya placed on 15-day DL
- Zumaya out for year with fracture in elbow MLB.com
- No new damage found during Joel Zumaya's elbow surgery Sporting News staff report, May 11, 2011. Retrieved from sportingnews.com October 29, 2011,
- Was Tuesday Joel Zumaya's swan song? Despite surgery, he wants to stay Tiger by Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, October 12, 2011
- Silva, Drew (15 January 2012). "Twins, Joel Zumaya agree to terms on one-year deal". NBC Sports. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- Twins, Zumaya sign one-year deal mlb trade rumors
- Girandola, Chris (February 26, 2012). "Torn elbow ligament to cost Twins reliever Joel Zumaya 2012 season". twinsbaseball.com.
- The Fastest Pitcher in Baseball History
- Reds Top Plays Archive (multimedia, see "Griffey's slam" under May 20
- Tigers even series with Yankees
- Mo' town
- Latest technology enhances playoffs
- Zumaya more than just a flame-thrower
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)