MLB Power Rankings: LA Angels' Torii Hunter Lists Nastiest Pitchers in the AL

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IJune 6, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: LA Angels' Torii Hunter Lists Nastiest Pitchers in the AL

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 30:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim bats during the game against the Kansas City Royals on May 30, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    In his 15 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels, right fielder Torii Hunter has had the opportunity to match up against some of the toughest pitchers in all of baseball. While he had his share of success with some of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is anxious to face them again.

    On Friday night against the New York Yankees, Hunter faced starting pitcher Ivan Nova for the very first time, going 0-for-2 with a walk, his last at-bat a wicked liner back up the middle that nearly took Nova’s head off.

    Hunter is well-known as one of the hardest working players in all of baseball, and there’s no doubt that he will take Friday night’s experience against Nova and file it away for future reference.

    On Saturday night, before the second game of the series with the Yankees, Hunter was presented with a special crystal trophy in honor of his 1,000th lifetime RBI, collected on May 30 against the Kansas City Royals. Hunter became the 269th player in major league history to achieve that feat.

    With his vast experience and knowledge, Hunter fully knows what it takes to prepare for each team and each of its pitchers.

    In a wide-ranging interview, Hunter talked to Bleacher Report about facing pitchers for the first time, his success against certain pitchers and a list of the nastiest pitchers that he has ever faced from each American League team.

    All quotes and sound bites in this slideshow were acquired via first-hand reporting on site at Angels Stadium as a credentialed representative of Bleacher Report, Inc.

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

Torii's Take on Young New York Yankees Right-Hander Ivan Nova

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 31:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in action during the game against the Kansas City Royals on May 31, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    B/R: Torii, 0-2 with a walk against Ivan Nova on Friday night, the first time you have ever faced him. First impressions and what adjustments will you need to make against him in future matchups?

    Torii Hunter: Well, the adjustments I have to make, I won’t tell you that, ‘cause that’s a big secret (laughs).

    Nova has a great arm, good fastball, good off-speed, just give him some experience, let him have some starts under his belt, give him a year or two, he’ll figure out his way. If he hits his spots and doesn’t get behind in the counts, I think he’ll be fine.

Torii's Take on Saturday Night Starter CC Sabathia

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 04:  Winning pitcher CC Sabathia #52 comes out of the game with two outs in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 4, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Yankees won 3-2.  (Photo by Stephen Dun
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    B/R: You’ve had some success against tonight’s starter, CC Sabathia, in the past. A .284 lifetime average with three HR. Do you look at historical success, or do you focus more on how Sabathia has performed lately?

    Torii Hunter: Definitely how he’s performed lately. In this game, you’re only as good as your last start, so I just want to see what he did in his last start, what he did to the team he faced, I think it was against Seattle maybe, and I want to know what he did to those guys, did he get the win, was he throwing more off-speed or whatever, because his game plan might be different when he’s facing us.

    So when I get out there, and I can see what he’s doing, I’ll know if he’s doing the same thing that he did to Seattle, or if he’s doing something different. That will give me a pretty good game plan.

    Update: Hunter was 0-for-4 against Sabathia on Saturday night, dropping his lifetime average against him to .267.

Torii's Take on the Toughest New York Yankees Pitcher He's Ever Faced

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 22:   Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a two run home run in the fouth inning against the Atlanta Braves on May 22, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.   The Angels won 4-1.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Get
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    B/R: Is Sabathia one of the toughest Yankee pitchers you’ve ever had to face, and if not, who was?

    Torii Hunter: CC? No. Definitely Roger Clemens. Roger Clemens didn’t work for me. There’s been a lot of Yankees pitchers who were really good—Mike Mussina, David Cone, a lot of guys I’ve faced over there that were pretty filthy, but Roger Clemens seems to be the one that owned me.

    Every time I looked at the lineup when I was in Minnesota, and I’d think “Oh no, Roger Clemens again?” He was pretty much in my head. He threw his split-fingered to me all the time, never really threw his fastball, it was all splitters, so I was out. (B/R note: Hunter was 0-for-28 lifetime against Clemens).

    B/R: How about in terms of the rest of the American League, and we’ll look at each team, either current or historical.

    Torii Hunter: Okay, go for it.

    In the following slides, Torii lists the toughest pitchers he's ever faced from each team in the American League.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Mike Mussina
    Mike MussinaOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    TH: Mike Mussina. He was the nastiest pitcher. He was throwing 95-96 MPH with a knuckle curveball, changeup, cutter—you name it, he threw everything but the kitchen sink.

Boston Red Sox

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    ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 26:  Pedro Martinez #45 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during game three of the 2004 World Series on October 26, 2004 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Car
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    TH: Pedro Martinez. He was pretty tough. I hit him pretty good (actually .219 lifetime), I just didn’t like facing him.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 06:  James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    TH: James Shields might be the toughest because of the changeup and everything. In my years of facing Tampa Bay, Shields might be the toughest I faced there(Hunter has a .240 lifetime average against Shields).

Toronto Blue Jays

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    TORONTO - JULY 14 :  Winning pitcher Kelvim Escobar #45 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws the ball against the Boston Red Sox during the game on July 14, 2002 at the Skydome in Toronto, Canada.  The Blue Jays edged the Red Sox 6-5.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    TH: Blue Jays, hmmm. Kelvim Escobar, when he was a starter. He was a closer there as well, but as a starter, when he was starting he was pretty filthy with me.

    I’m a right-handed hitter, he’s a right-handed pitcher, and he threw a lot of splitties, so most of the guys that throw splitties I never had much success with (.130 lifetime batting average against Escobar).

Cleveland Indians

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    06 Apr 2002 :  Bartolo Colon #40 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the game at Comercia Park in Detroit, Michigan . The Indians won 5-3. DIGITAL IMAGE.  Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon /Getty Images
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    TH: In Cleveland, the toughest pitcher I faced was Bartolo Colon when he was on top of his game(.273 lifetime average against Colon).

Chicago White Sox

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 15:  Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 15, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    TH: Wow, White Sox. You’re really testing me, man! I’d have to say it’s always been Mark Buehrle.

    In all my years, Buehrle has just been a smart pitcher, he’s a hurry-up pitcher who never lets you get comfortable in the box. It was definitely Buehrle. Maybe not the best, but definitely the smartest. Changes speeds, in and out, north and south, just an awesome pitcher.

    B/R note: Hunter has a .224 lifetime average against Buehrle with three HR.

Detroit Tigers

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    DETROIT, MI - APRIL 11:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch while playing the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park on April 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    TH: I don’t know, I always hit Detroit pretty well. I had my first major league home run in the old Tiger Stadium. I would have to say it’s Justin Verlander. Verlander I just don’t like to face.

    I’ve hit him pretty well (.333 lifetime, one HR); I just don’t like to face him.

Kansas City Royals

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:  Zack Greinke #23 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on August 11, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    TH: Man, I really like hitting against Kansas City (.271 lifetime average against Royals, 30 HR, more than any other team).

    I’d have to say Zack Greinke. When I saw that he was starting, I didn’t like it. I hit him okay (.273 average, three HR), I just didn’t like facing him.

Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 23: Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Seattle Mariners during their game on May 23, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockies won 6-5. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    TH: Joe Nathan. Never liked facing him, before he had surgery. I was always with that team until recently, so no one else really that comes to mind (0-for-3 lifetime against Nathan).

Oakland Athletics

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    ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Mark Mulder #20 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Anaheim Angels in the second inning on September 26, 2004 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    TH: It was always Mark Mulder. Mulder I did not like because he threw splitties and everything, so definitely him.

    The numbers certainly bear out, as Hunter had a lifetime .125 average against Mulder.

Seattle Mariners

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 30:  Pitcher Freddy Garcia #34 of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the MLB game against the Kansas City Royals on August 30, 2002 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington.  The Royals defeated Mariners 5-1.  (Photo by Otto Greule
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    TH: I will go with Freddy Garcia. Garcia back in the day was pretty nasty. I didn’t have to face him too much, but he threw hard, up around 96 MPH, and didn’t like to face him.

    I knew Freddy wasn’t pitching in this series (now with the Yankees), and I was like “thank you!” Because now, he’s trying to fool you, he’s a little crafty now.

    B/R Note: Apparently, Torii must have hit Garcia better when he left Seattle, because he has a .413 lifetime average against him.

Texas Rangers

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    CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 3: Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 3, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    TH: Wow, that’s tough, I’ve always liked facing the Texas Rangers (.279 lifetime average, 18 HR). I missed facing Nolan Ryan, so I’m thankful for that.

    Maybe Alexi Ogando. I faced him, and he was okay; maybe he’s the best pitcher I’ve seen over there, but I haven’t seen much of him yet. No one else really comes to mind.