24 September 2004

Random Weekend Notes...

A few random notes on a note-worthy baseball news weekend...

The Smartest Pitcher Who Ever Lived...for 17 Years

Greg Maddux has done it again. He's won 15 games this year, for the 17th consecutive season. Everybody pretty much knows why: he's awesome. Not blow-you-away-with-108-mph-gas awesome like some pitchers, but rather I'm-smarter-than- whomever's-at-the-plate-and-I-know-it awesome, which might be better. Of course, it helped that he played for most of those Braves teams that averaged 98 wins per season for over a decade, and that he never does anything to get himself hurt (you listenin', Brown?), but it's still pretty remarkable any way you slice it.

Dumbest Athlete Baseball Player Writer BBTN Anchor Who Ever Lived

OK, so he's not the dumbest writer. I think Bill Conlin still works for the Philly Daily News. But John Kruk refreshes my amazement with him on a nearly daily basis by coming up with ever-more asinine things to say about baseball. His most recent column lists a few tongue-in-cheek awards and even acknowledges that The Big Unit has been a better pitcher than Roger Clemens this year, but c'mon, Chone Figgins for MVP?
What's next? Jeremy Affeldt for the Cy Young Award? Hey, Affeldt didn't know whether he was starting or relieving or closing on any given day, and his pitching was... um... mediocre, so why not?

Actually, I was in a Yahoo Fantasy League earlier this year that also thought Chone Figgins was pretty darn valuable as well. That league setup overvalued triples and steals while undervaluing silly things like, well, pitching, so I quit it. If MLB somehow starts giving awards to guys like Chone Figgins, I may have to seriously consider becoming a hockey fan. Oh wait, never mind.

Have You Seen This Pitcher?

Who Am I? Posted by Hello

GS  CG   IP    H   HR  BB   K   ERA   WHIP

30 4 217.1 177 20 60 271 3.35 1.09

He has fairly impressive credentials: over 270 strikeouts and barely more than a baserunner per inning in almost 220 innings of work. An ERA that ranks 4th in the AL this year. One of those complete games was a shutout, too, and the opposition has only hit about .215 off him. Not a bad resume, I'd say, except for this:


That's his record. In this day and age, that pitching line would put a guy at least in the running for the Cy Young award, if not at the head of the pack. Another 30 or so innings of work like that would nearly assure him of it, if not for the fact that he hasn't actually been able to win more games than he's lost (see Johnson, Randy). And besides, Johan Santana's running away with the AL CYA this year, with Schilling a distant second, right?

So why haven't you heard of this guy? What rock have you been living under to have not noticed someone who's struck out more batters than everybody but Randy Johnson?

Well, you have seen him. As a matter of fact, he's been on national television twice in the last week, pitching against (and losing to) the New York Yankees. You see, I've tricked you again (you keep falling for it...). The line above is Pedro Martinez, i.e. Punk-Ass, except it's his body of work against the Bronx Bombers over the course of his career, including three ALCS appearances. For reference, the rest of his career looks roughly like this, on average, not including postseasons:

GS  CG  IP   H   HR  BB   K   ERA   WHIP

29 4 210 159 16 56 241 2.65 1.02

In addition, you should know that his average record is 17-7 in games against not-the-Yankees. These numbers also include some of his relief work early in his career with Los Angeles, but you get the point. He's just about as stingy with the hits and walks, and just as prolific with the strikeouts, but for whatever reason, he just does a better job of keeping runners from crossing the plate when he faces everyone else. Granted, over the time he's been facing them (1998-2004 and counting) the Yankees have won their division every year, and have won three of the five World Series in which they've played, beating out (up, on) Pedro's Red Sox twice to get there. So I guess ascribing Wins and Losses to pitchers has some meaning after all.

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