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The other day, the Rangers’ Derek Holland and his incredible mustache were nice enough to sit down with Next Level Ballplayer.com for an exclusive interview. Holland was the second most dominant AL pitcher during the second half of the 2011 season (Verlander) and then shined during the World Series. The Rangers where not only one strike away from their first World Series title, but had Nelly Cruz caught that ball in the 9th, Holland would have had his second win of the World Series and a serious shot at the MVP (even though I think Napoli would have taken it).
None the less, Holland’s road to World Series stud was not an easy one. Here is his quick career timeline:
2006: Drafted by the Rangers in the 25th round out of Wallace State Community College in Alabama.
2009: Had an up and down rookie season in which he went 8-13 with a 6.12 ERA.
2010: Spent most of the season in AAA before getting called up towards the end of the season. It was in the 2010 World Series against the Giants when he had one of the worst October outings of all time. Holland walked all three batters he faced on a total of 13 pitches before getting pulled out of the game.
2011: Started much like his previous years with inconsistent starts. On July second he had a 5+ ERA. Then something clicked. The rest of the way he went 10-1 with a 2.77 ERA and finished with the AL lead in shutouts (4), 3rd in winning percentage, and 4th in wins.
The video is about 12 minutes long. If you prefer skipping to questions of interest, the interview outline is below. (This is the first time I’ve posted an interview without writing it out. Please let me know in the comments if you like videos better than written interviews and anything I can do to improve the presentation. Thanks!)
0:25 – What is one baseball related lesson you learned early on that has led to your success?
0:51 – What’s the best piece out pitching advice you’ve ever received?
1:33 – Toughest batter you’ve ever faced?
1:50 – What was the hardest adjustment for you when transitioning to minor league baseball from Juco?
2:34 – How do you build arm strength? (This question comes from NLB reader Colin from Strongsville, OH)
3:17 – Specific exercises to help arm flexibility
3:51 – How did you turn your 2011 season around from the mental and physical side of things?
5:26 – The importance of confidence and positive self talk
5:50 – Mindset and approach in the bullpen before a start
6:38 – Mindset and approach walking out to the mound to start a game
7:16 – What was your mental and physical preparation before your WS game 4 start where you threw 8 1/3 shutout innings of 2 hit ball? (This question is from NLB subscriber, Coach Wes from Dallas, TX)
8:52 – Main advice to aspiring pitchers who want to get better
9:14 – Impersonation of Ron Washington taking him out in the 9th inning of game 4 of the World Series.
10:45 – Motivate yourself!
11:02 – Harry Caray shows NLB some love