Saturday, June 29, 2013

Can Matt Harvey's 2013 Season Be A Repeat of Felix Hernandez's 2010?

After last night's start Matt Harvey of the New York Mets sits with a 7-1 record with a league leading 2.00 ERA, 132 strikeouts and 0.85 WHIP in 17 games started. He has nine no-decisions so far this season and the lack of more wins due to his team's lack of run support and bullpen's inability to hold leads are causing the Mets' faithful to get more and more frustrated (or disappointed for Harvey as Sean stated yesterday). I can't help but wonder if Harvey continues as he is as a victim of his team, can he win the National League Cy Young in the same kind of fashion that Seattle Mariners starter Felix Hernandez won the American League Cy Young with a 13-12 record in 2010.

The winning of the American League Cy Young by Hernandez was historical in the sense that never had a starter won the award with so little wins (in a non shortened season) and leading (or being close to the top) of most of the major statistical categories. Also historical was the emphasis by the voters to overlook the wins and loss record of Hernandez and realize that he was a league leader that had no support from his offense throughout the year and that he shouldn't be penalized for that. Here are Hernandez's statistics from the 2010 season:

Felix Hernandez
249.21948053.221 70 232 1.057 
Here are Harvey's statistics up to today's date:

Matt Harvey
117762626.184 24 132 0.85 
Here is the breakdown of Hernandez's starts in 2010 by season halves:
1st Half: 19 starts, 7-5, 2.88 ERA, 137.2 IP, 131 K, 42 BB, 44 R, 42 ER 
2nd Half: 15 starts, 6-7, 1.53 ERA, 112 IP, 101 K, 28 BB, 31 R, 19 ER
Harvey's first half performance is better than Hernandez's by a significant amount (with probably two starts to go) with the exception of innings pitched. Hernandez just tore it up in the second half.

Here is a little more statistical analysis by Bob Roarman from November 19, 2010 on the White Sox Interactive forum page:
Last season Hernandez had 30 quality starts. There was only one of those quality starts that could be considered "cheap" in where he just barely met the requirements. Pretty damn good, led the MLB, and I hope by god that we can all at least agree that quality starts is a legit stat, something that can help measure a pitcher's performance. Help to measure, understand I'm not going on that one stat alone, I'm just using it as a jumping off point.

Assuming we can agree on that, let's delve deeper into those starts and start to expand analysis and not just spout off those darned tricky advanced stats like WAR and ERA+ and confuse everyone. So out of those 30 quality starts, Felix had 13 wins. His stat line in those 13 wins:

106+ IP, 0.84 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 117 K, 19 BB, 10 ER.

About as good as you can possibly be. But there were still 17 games he either got the loss or a no decision. Of those 17 quality starts where he didn't get a win this is his stat line:

0 wins, 8 losses, 9 no decisions. 123 IP, 2.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 30 ER, 97 Ks, 103 H, 30 BB.

Wow, still great numbers. So how the hell did he not get a single win out of any those games? Going further into those 17 games while he was still the pitcher of record, this is what the Seattle offensive juggernaut supported him with:

24 runs (not even a run and a half a game) a .208 collective batting average, .268 OBP, .295 SLG and hit .149 (15-101) w/RISP.

That is what you call stunningly and shamefully ****ing awful. One of, if not the, worst offenses of the past decade. 7 of those games they scored jack **** while he was in the game. They scored a whopping one run 4 times and 2 runs twice. But let's go even deeper, just for fun, and see how the bullpen did in those same games.

Of those same 17 games, Felix completed two of them (both losses of course) and the bullpen pitched in the remaining 15 games. In 3 of those games, they actually did their job and let up nothing. In 12 of the 15 games this is how they fared:

31 IP, 45 H, 23 BB, 32 ER (!!), 9.29 ERA, 2.194 WHIP

That's Boone Logan bad. "No chance" bad.

Hernandez's overall numbers in his 30 quality starts are:
229.2 IP, 167 H, 40 ER, 56 BB, 214 SO, 11 HR, 1.57 ERA, 0.97 WHIP

Great numbers. Couldn't ask for those kind of numbers. But that's what he put up. And he has 13 wins to show for it. The funny thing is that if he's just a bit worse than a world beater in those games, he probably has even less wins. Maybe he's not even over .500, who knows. The point is looking at the number of wins he has does not even come within a mile of how well he pitched this season or how any other pitcher performed. You're putting way too much emphasis on something that doesn't account for near enough of how well or poorly a player pitched during the season.

Like I said, you don't have to be a stat geek or a "propeller head" to understand why Hernandez won the Cy Young. He just had an absolutely historically bad offense which gave him less than minimal support in the vast majority of games he pitched and the bullpen definitely was not doing him any favors either. You can't rack up 19-20 wins if your team struggles to score a little over 1 run a game in over half the games you pitch in. Period. You can pitch lights out (and he did in those games) and most of the time it won't matter and it was no different for Felix. He was fortunate to finish with 13 wins. That's insane to have to say that, but it's true.
Its hard not to make a comparison with Harvey (at this point in time) and with Hernandez's 2010 season. It just seems that Harvey needs to throw complete game shutouts just to preserve any lead that he might have. It seems that Mets manager Terry Collins is against the idea of leaving his pitcher out there to burn himself out throwing complete games. As has happened all season, Harvey will continue to be at the mercy of his teammates if he pitches solid games and leaves with leads.

I believe if Matt Harvey can keep up with the way he's pitching (barring an undefeated season by Arizona's Patrick Corbin or an injury to Harvey) he would be a favorite to win the NL Cy Young. The precedent has already been set in 2010. We'll have to wait and see if History can repeat itself in 2013.

For Further Reading
- Click Here for Matt Harvey's season statistics from
- Click Here for Felix Hernandez's statistics from the 2010 season from Baseball
- Click Here for Felix Hernandez's career statistics from Baseball

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Pitchers With Two No-Hitters in One Season

I started writing this post the week that Virgil Trucks passed away at the age of 95 and as usual life has a way of interrupting the creative process. So here I go trying to finish the post.

Aside from having a cool name, Trucks had the distinction of being only one of five pitchers to have thrown two no-hitters during the same season. With this post, I wanted to profile all five pitchers who accomplished that feat. You'll see that I didn't go about it in chronological order. I did so in the order in which i found the achievement to be most impressive.

- Virgil Trucks 1952
Trucks pitched his entire 17-year career in the American League and complied a 177-135 record with a 3.39 ERA. In 1952, Trucks threw his first no-hitter of the season with a 1-0 victory against the Washington Senators on May 15, 1952. The second no-hitter was another 1-0 victory this time on the road against the Yankees on August 25, 1952. This would be the last time the New York Yankees were no-hit at home by one pitcher (The Yankees were no-hit by the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003 by six pitchers). Trucks would be a 2-time All-Star and helped the Detroit Tigers win the 1945 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. He was the third pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season.

- Click Here to Access Virgil Trucks' Career Statistics from Baseball

- Allie Reynolds 1951
Reynolds pitched for 13 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees and compiled a 182-107 record with a 3.30 ERA. In 1951, Reynolds threw his first no-hitter of the season with a 1-0 victory against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. He would again throw a no-hitter at home this time on September 28, 1951 with an 8-0 victory against the Boston Red Sox. Reynolds was a mainstay of the Yankees teams from the "Golden Age of New York City Baseball" by appearing in six World Series (1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953) and going 7-2 with 2 shutouts and 4 saves in 15 World Series games. Reynolds would be the second pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season.

- Click Here to Access Allie Reynolds' Career Statistics from Baseball

- Roy Halladay 2010
Halladay is the only active pitcher on this list. Through 16 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, Halladay is 199-101 with a 3.32 ERA. Halladay has the distinction of throwing one of being the only pitcher on this list to throw one of two no-hitters in the same season during the post-season. On May 29, 2010 Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins for a 1-0 victory on the road. His second no-hitter of the season came during Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series in Philadelphia on October 6, 2010. Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds for a 4-0 victory. This was the first no-hitter ever thrown at Citizens Bank Park. Halladay is a 7-time All-Star and is a 2-time winner of the Cy Young Award and one of five pitchers to win both the American League and National League Cy Young Awards (Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry). Halladay is the fifth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season.

- Click Here to Access Roy Halladay's Career Statistics from Baseball

- Nolan Ryan 1973
Ryan is the only Hall of Famer on this list. Ryan pitched for 27 years and compiled a 324-292 career record with a 3.19 ERA and is the Major league leader in Strikeouts with 5714. Ryan also leads the majors in career walks with 2795 and has the most no-hitters with seven. On May 15, 1973, Ryan no-hit the Kansas City Royals 3-0 for his first ever no-hitter at Royals Stadium. Two months later on July 15, 1973, Ryan would no-hit the Detroit Tigers for a 6-0 victory at Tigers Stadium. In his next start Ryan was throwing a seven inning perfect game against the Baltimore Orioles coming the closest to tying the record for consecutive no-hitters since a Johnny Vander Meer did it in 1938. Ryan was a 6-time All-Star. Ryan was the fourth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season.

- Click Here to Access Nolan Ryan's Career Statistics from Baseball

- Johnny Vander Meer 1938
Vander Meer is the first pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season AND the only pitcher on this list to have thrown back-to-back no-hitters. During his first full season, Vander Meer threw his first no hitter for the Cincinnati Reds against the Boston Bees at Crosley Field. In his next start, against the Brooklyn Dodgers at the first night game at Ebbets Field, Vander Meer no-hit the Dodgers for the distinction of being the only pitcher to throw back-to-back no hitters. Vander Meer would finish with a 119-121 career record with a 3.44 ERA and was a 4-time All Star.
So there you have it folks. I believe that Vander Meer's record of back-to-back no hitters might be one of those records that might never be broken...ever. 

Sisco Kid

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pitchers to Win Rookie of the Year, Cy Young AND MVP Awards

I came across the topic of this post when reading about a series of anecdotes and interviews done of members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in relation to their memories of their time playing in the city of Pittsburgh either as a member of the Pirates or as a visiting player. The article Pittsburgh's claim to fame from the Spring/Summer 2006 issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly by Douglas Heuck & Dan Fitzpatrick states that one of the Hall of Famers that was interviewed was (at the time of the article being published) the only player to have won the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young AND Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards.

In case you don't know, the Rookie of the Year was first given out in 1947 for the most outstanding rookie league-wide (1949 on for a Rookie in each league). The Cy Young was created in 1956 with one pitcher winning it yearly league-wide. (1967 for a pitcher in each league). The Most Valuable Player award has been awarded to one player in each league since 1931. So based on those dates, the earliest that anyone could have won all three awards is 1956.

Also something else to consider, it seemed that the MVP award was given to pitchers more often from 1950-1990. There has been movement that seems to think that pitchers shouldn't win the MVP award since pitchers already have an award specifically for them, which is the Cy Young Award. So keeping that in mind, I looked at the lists for the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP awards and found that up to the 2012 season, only two pitchers have won all three awards.

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is the most recent of the two pitchers to win all three awards. Verlander won the 2006 American League Rookie of the Year award with a 17-9 record and a 3.63 ERA. He won the 2011 Cy Young and 2011 MVP awards with a 24-5 record and a 2.40 ERA.

Hall of Famer Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers was the first player to achieve the honor of winning all three awards. Newcombe was the 1949 National League Rookie of the Year with a 17-8 record and a 3.17 ERA. He won the 1956 Cy Young and 1956 MVP awards with a 27-7 record and a 3.06 ERA.

Here is a video from the BBWAA dinner on January 22, 2012 where Don Newcombe discusses introducing reigning AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander.

So there you have it. Don Newcombe and Justin Verlander are the only two pitchers to win the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young AND MVP awards.

Sisco Kid.

For Further Reading
- Click Here to see the entire list of players to have won the Rookie of the Year awards from
- Click Here to see the entire list of pitchers to have won the Cy Young awards from
- Click Here to see the entire list of players to have won the Most Valuable Player awards from

Friday, June 21, 2013

Taking Another Look At The Potential All-Star Game Starters

Back on May 10th, in a post entitled Early Favorites To Start the 2013 All-Star Game, I looked at who could be the potential starters for both leagues at this year's Midsummer Classic which will be hosted at Citi Field on July 16, 2013. Where on that date I stated that The New York Mets' Matt Harvey and the Boston Red Sox's Clay Buchholz should be the starters up to that point, other pitchers have made their mark since then.

While Clay Buchholz is still the heavy favorite to start the All-Star Game for the American League, his being on the disabled list is opening the door for Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer to get consideration for the starting nod. As I described with more detail in my post from June 12, 2013 entitled I Might Have To Start Calling Tim McCarver Karnak Scherzer is at the top of the league in almost every pitching statistic. Here are his statistics up to today:

Max Scherzer
96.1643433.189 24 1160.91 
Here are Buchholz's statistics up to today:

Clay Buchholz
84.1571616.195 29 811.02 
The biggest difference in both pitchers is the amount of runs allowed. Buchholz has allowed half as many runs  as Scherzer has while Scherzer holds an advantage in walks, strikeouts, WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched) with 12 more innings pitched than Buchholz.

Bartolo Colon is a darkhorse to get the starting nod with a surprising 9-2 record with a 2.89 ERA. As well as Hishashi Iwakuma who sits at 7-2 with a 2.06 ERA.

I really think that the A.L. starting nod is a real toss-up at the moment with either Scherzer and Buchholz getting the nod. I think the game changer here is where Buchholz sits after coming off the DL and how he pitches after that.

In the National League, I believe that Arizona Diamondback starter Patrick Corbin has the advantage in getting the starting nod for the Senior Circuit but has two members of the St. Louis Cardinals hot on his heels.

Corbin is still undefeated at 9-0 as of today and is near the top of most of the National League pitching catergories. Here is where he stands as of today:

Patrick Corbin
94.2732524.212 23 741.01 
Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright of the N.L. Central leading St. Louis Cardinals have also made their case for the All-Star starting nod with their performances this season.

Lance Lynn
92.0733535.221 34 941.16 
Adam Waiwnright
110.01023129.248 9 1161.01 
While I think that Corbin is still in the lead, Wainwright with 4 losses makes a compelling case with his three complete games, two shutouts and only NINE walks allowed. I also think Jordan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals is a dark horse with a 10-3 record with a 2.26 ERA. 

Matt Harvey has been a victim of his team's lack of run support and sits at 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA. While I don't think he'll get the starting nod, I believe he will be selected to join the NL All-Stars and will get a well deserved inning in front of the hometown crowd at Citi Field. 

It'll be interesting to see where these starters stand by the time the All-Star game rolls around and who actually gets the nod to start for both leagues. Stay tuned folks.

Sisco Kid

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Should The Yankees Do About Phil Hughes

After sitting through the 6-0 loss by the Yankees to the Los Angeles Dodgers and reading some of the remarks about losing pitcher Phil Hughes it got me to thinking: What Should The Yankees Do About Phil Hughes. Now Hughes had nothing in his tank from the first batter on. The Dodgers got off to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back. While I think Hughes should take his fair share of blame for this loss I also believe the offense took the night off. In doing so, they made Dodger starter Chris Capuano look (as John Sterling described him on the air) fabulous. In six innings pitched, Capuano gave up only 3-hits while walking none and striking out 4. The Yankees got a runner to third only once and were 0-3 with Runners in Scoring Position. So the offense tonight was just as bad as their starting pitching. But back to Hughes.

This loss leaves Hughes with a 3-6 record and a large 5.09 ERA. Do they send him to the bullpen?  Who replaces him in the rotation. Looking at the Scranton/Willks Barre roster, do they give Ivan Nova yet another chance? Vidal Nuno? Bring up Dellin Betances? Do they wait out Michael Pineda's rehab and leave Hughes in the rotation.

I think for the moment, the decision not to bring up Chien Ming Wang and releasing him (Wang signed a Major League contract with division rival Toronto Blue Jays) will loom large. The Yankees just don't have an experienced arm to plug into Hughes' spot in the rotation. I think they have no choice but to keep putting Hughes out there every five days. Unless Hughes has a major turn around in the second half, I believe his days in pinstripes are numbered. I can even see Yankees General Manager packaging him in a trade near the deadline. But I am getting ahead of myself. We'll have to see what happens in five days.

What do you all think. Let me know.

Sisco Kid

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Might Have To Start Calling Tim McCarver Karnak

My friend Christopher and I had a good laugh right before the season started based on some comments made by Fox Sports Announcer, former MLB player and the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award recipient Tim McCarver. McCarver, who is slated to retire after this season from his duties at Fox Sports made some rather (at the time) far fetched comments concerning Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer. McCarver stated that he believed that Scherzer, rather than Tigers' ace Justin Verlander would win the American League Cy Young Award this season. Now imagine how many among Baseball felt that McCarver may have bitten off more than he could chew with his comments. Well, maybe everyone except Max Scherzer.

To give credit where it is due, Scherzer isn't on par with someone let's say like Oliver Perez. Scherzer did finish the season with a 16-7 record with a 3.74 ERA and a league leading 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings (231 K's in 187 2/3 innings). But in all reality, could anyone really see him being as good as he's been this season? Well, aside from McCarver and Scherzer. Here are Scherzer's statistics up to today:

Max Scherzer
90.1573332.182 22 1060.87 
Let's see how Scherzer compares with the league leaders. He's tied for first in wins (9) with Clay Buchholz, Patrick Corbin, Adam Wainright and Jordan Zimmerman. He's tied for first in losses (0) with Buchholz and Corbin. Scherzer is 33rd in the league in ERA, 10th in innings pitched, 2nd in the league in strikeouts behind Yu Darvish and has a league leading .182 opponents batting average. He trails the Seattle Mariners' starter Hisahashi Iwakuma in terms of WHIP (0.82) with a 0.87 WHIP. 

So I would say it is a safe bet at this moment, that Max Scherzer indeed is a prime candidate for the American League Cy Young award along with Boston's Clay Buchholz and Texas' Yu Darvish among others.

So to quote the legendary Mel Allen: How About That!!!

Sisco Kid