Category Archives: pitching rants

All-Time F.I.P.’er Greats – Update

By popular demand here is an update to the “All-Time F.I.P.’er Greats“.  The last three weeks of the baseball season saw two new additions to the club.  Both coming from the AL West.

The parameters*:

  • 220 strikeouts
  • 4.50 K/BB
  • HR/9 allowed < 0.66

 

Player              Year  SO SO/W  HR9
Jon  Lester          2014 220 4.58 0.66
Corey  Kluber        2014 269 5.27 0.53
Clayton  Kershaw     2014 239 7.71 0.41
Felix  Hernandez     2014 248 5.39 0.61
Roy  Halladay        2011 220 6.29 0.39
Clayton  Kershaw     2011 248 4.59 0.58
Zack  Greinke        2009 242 4.75 0.43
Randy  Johnson       2004 290 6.59 0.66
Mark  Prior          2003 245 4.90 0.64
Pedro  Martinez      2002 239 5.98 0.59
Pedro  Martinez      1999 313 8.46 0.38
Kevin  Brown         1998 257 5.24 0.28
Pedro  Martinez      1997 305 4.55 0.60
Randy  Johnson       1995 294 4.52 0.50
Roger  Clemens       1988 291 4.69 0.58
Tom  Seaver          1971 289 4.74 0.57
Sandy  Koufax        1963 306 5.28 0.52
Walter  Johnson      1913 243 6.39 0.23
Ed  Walsh            1908 269 4.80 0.04
Christy  Mathewson   1908 259 6.17 0.12

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/18/2015.

 

*seasons since 1901

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The Mariners’ Mr. Durability

In each of his nine full major league seasons Felix Hernandez has made at least 30 starts.  For such a young pitcher to be so durable seems remarkable.  “King Felix” has not yet turned 29.

Here are the most seasons, all-time with at least 30 games started through age 28:

Name                Yrs From   To   Age
Felix  Hernandez       9 2006 2014 20-28
Bert  Blyleven         9 1971 1979 20-28
Walter  Johnson        9 1908 1916 20-28
Christy  Mathewson     9 1901 1909 20-28

 

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

The Phillies Pitching Problem

The Philadelphia Phillies are finishing this season in last place primarily because of poor starting pitching.

Cole Hamels did have a wonderful season and Cliff Lee was on his way to a solid year before going down with an elbow injury at the end of July.  Outside of their two horses the starting staff has given almost nothing to Ryne Sandberg.

Philly is the first MLB team since 2012 with two pitchers making 30 starts and finishing with an ERA+ of less than 85.

 

Year   Lg                    Tm                                   #Matching
2014   NL Philadelphia Phillies         2      A.J.  Burnett / Kyle  Kendrick
2012   AL     Cleveland Indians         2 Ubaldo  Jimenez / Justin  Masterson
2012   AL    Kansas City Royals         2        Bruce  Chen / Luke  Hochevar
2012   NL  San Francisco Giants         2         Tim  Lincecum / Barry  Zito
2011   NL         New York Mets         2      Chris  Capuano / Mike  Pelfrey

 

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/26/2014.

 

 

All-Time F.I.P.’er Greats

All-time, MLB, single pitching seasons with the following parameters:

  • 220 strikeouts
  • 4.50 K/BB
  • HR/9 allowed < 0.66

 

Rk              Player Year  SO SO/W  HR9  Tm GS  FIP ERA+
1    Christy  Mathewson 1908 259 6.17 0.12 NYG 44 1.29  168
2             Ed  Walsh 1908 269 4.80 0.04 CHW 49 1.42  162
3       Walter  Johnson 1913 243 6.39 0.23 WSH 36 1.90  259
4         Sandy  Koufax 1963 306 5.28 0.52 LAD 40 1.85  159
5           Tom  Seaver 1971 289 4.74 0.57 NYM 35 1.93  194
6        Roger  Clemens 1988 291 4.69 0.58 BOS 35 2.17  141
7        Randy  Johnson 1995 294 4.52 0.50 SEA 30 2.08  193
8       Pedro  Martinez 1997 305 4.55 0.60 MON 31 2.39  219
9          Kevin  Brown 1998 257 5.24 0.28 SDP 35 2.23  164
10      Pedro  Martinez 1999 313 8.46 0.38 BOS 29 1.39  243
11      Pedro  Martinez 2002 239 5.98 0.59 BOS 30 2.24  202
12          Mark  Prior 2003 245 4.90 0.64 CHC 30 2.47  179
13        Zack  Greinke 2009 242 4.75 0.43 KCR 33 2.33  205
14        Roy  Halladay 2011 220 6.29 0.39 PHI 32 2.20  163
15     Clayton  Kershaw 2011 248 4.59 0.58 LAD 33 2.47  161
16        Corey  Kluber 2014 223 4.85 0.62 CLE 30 2.60  152

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/7/2014.

Zach Britton Pitching to His Defense

The closer version of Zach Britton is shooting for a batted ball record.  78% of the balls in play against the Orioles relief ace this year are being hit on the ground.

Thanks to a great defense behind him only 22% of batted balls are falling for hits.

As per FanGraphs since ’02 the highest ground ball rate against was posted by Brad Ziegler in 2012 (76%).

Long Ball Supressing Relief Aces

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jake McGee has allowed zero home runs in 62 innings pitched this year. The lefty has totaled 80 strikeouts.

This zero HR’s thing is quite impressive even with scoring levels down sharply from historic heights. It turns out that another AL reliever has bettered McGee in 2014. His name is Wade Davis. Ned Yost‘s setup man in KC has whiffed 90 opposing batters and kept every batted ball against in the park.

So who has the most strikeouts in a single season while not surrendering a single long ball*? Terry Forster for the 1972 White Sox. The twenty year-old sent down 104 batters on strikes that year in just 62 relief appearances and a very impressive 100 innings pitched.

Forster’s set-up man in Chicago that year….rookie Rich Gossage.

*Live ball era (since 1920)

Extreme Home Run Suppression

San Diego Padres lefty Alex Torres pitched two innings of shutout relief last night against the Cubs.  The former Tampa Bay Ray has now thrown 87 career innings in MLB and allowed only one home run*.

Torres is one of only four pitchers to allow fewer than two HR’s while throwing over 80 innings in the MLB integration era….

 

Rk           Player   IP HR From   To   Age  G  BF      Tm
1    Lance  Rautzhan 94.2  1 1977 1979 24-26 83 414 LAD-MIL
2       Alex  Torres 87.0  1 2011 2014 23-26 65 348 TBR-SDP
3     Kevin  Cameron 86.1  1 2007 2009 27-29 69 383 SDP-OAK
4         Dan  Otero 81.0  1 2012 2014 27-29 66 334 SFG-OAK

 

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/25/2014.

*Martin Prado tagged him last August

The Rise of the Missed Bat

Before 1996 there was never an MLB season which featured more than four starting pitchers who averaged at least one strikeout per inning.  In 1965 and 1986 there were four starters who posted at least 9 Ks/game.  The ’60’s were led by Sandy Koufax and Sam McDowell while the 80’s featured fire-ballers Nolan Ryan and Bobby Witt.

As the strikeout began to rise during the steroid era we saw eight high K starters (9+ SO/9 innings) in 1998 and ten in 2002.  From ’02-’04 alone there were 29 individual high K starting pitcher seasons.  Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jason Schmidt, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez averaged at least one strikeout/inning in all three seasons.

There was a slight dip in high K starters during the next four seasons before an explosion in 2009.  An all-time high of thirteen high K starters appeared in ’09, a feat matched in 2010.  This record was quickly broken in 2012 with fifteen and subsequently tied last year.

Five pitchers recorded at least 9 strikeouts/game in each of the last two seasons, they are: Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer amd Jeff Samardzija.  How many of these will repeat the feat in 2014?

*Thank you to Baseball-Reference.com for all this awesome data.

King Felix Moving Up the K Record Book

Despite the Mariners loss to the Rangers Wednesday night Felix Hernandez hurled a gem.  Seven innings, one walk, one run allowed and a two-to-one groundball-flyball rate.  He also whiffed nine Rangers which brings his career total to 1,742.

Just last night King Felix passed Bob Friend, Tom Candiotti, Ed Walsh (HOF) and Dave Stewart on the all-time strikeout list.

A great night’s work despite the loss.

That ill-timed Dan Duquette quote concerning Clemens

There is a common misconception that Roger Clemens was toast when the Boston Red Sox decided to not re-sign him after the 1996 season. Sox GM Dan Duquette became infamous in our little world of baseball for saying that Roger was entering the “twilight” of his career.

The Blue Jays disagreed with Duquette’s assessment of Clemens and signed the 34-year old starter to a four year deal worth ~$31 million.  To put the money in perspective, Clemens was paid more than Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey in ’97 & ’98.

What made the Blue Jays so sure that Clemens was worth MVP level money when Boston said good riddance to him?  It’s pretty simple actually.  In 1996, Clemens last year with the Red Sox he led the American League in strikeouts.  He whiffed 42 more batters than the league runner-up Chuck Finley.

Roger Clemens was far and away the best strikeout pitcher in the AL when Duquette said he was in his “twilight”.  This is akin to suggesting that Cliff Lee today is nearly washed up.

In addition to leading the league in strikeouts by a mile the ’96 version of Clemens was top-ten in the AL in strikeout/walk rate, fewest home runs allowed, innings pitched, complete games and E.R.A.  In his 32nd start of the 1996 season “The Rocket” went to Detroit and tied his own MLB record for most strikeouts in a 9-inning game by sending down twenty Tigers batters on strikes while allowing no walks and no runs.

Roger Clemens did not have to go to Toronto and use PED’s to revive his career.  When the Red Sox let the former Texas Longhorn walk he was still an elite major league pitcher.