There are differences of opinion over the reasons for Hrabosky's success. His teammates consider him a natural talent; he believes he would still be struggling had he not adopted his psyching technique during last year's All-Star break. "People may think I'm a weirdo when they see me, but it's something I've got to do," Hrabosky says. "I consider my fastball only average, but when I psych myself I'll put it against anybody's.
"It's positive thinking. I visualize myself throwing to a certain spot. Then I see the batter swing and miss. I make it a personal battle between the two of us by thinking about something he's done against my team. Too many pitchers look like they are scared to death on the mound. Not me. I try to turn the situation around. I want the hitter to be afraid, to wonder if I am a little crazy."
If Hrabosky is crazy, it doesn't seem to harm his pitching. His .818 winning percentage and 14 saves lead the National League. In 43 appearances totaling 57 innings he has struck out 45, walked just 17 and, despite his ferocious chatter, hit only one batter.
"I'm not the kind of reliever who likes to go in every day," he says. "I want to pitch only when the game is close. If I fail, I don't lose my composure or feel embarrassed. I figure I just didn't have good location with my pitches. On the road, people pay to see me fail. Nothing gives me more pride than a standing boo."