To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


This baseball season has already seen some incredible pitching, both in single-game performances and overall numbers to date.

There have been 2.97 perfect games this year, an astounding number considering that there had only been 15 in the modern era of baseball before this year.

There has been Ubaldo Jimenez, who threw a no hitter earlier this year, and whose overall numbers have made some wonder if he could make a run at Bob Gibson's record 1.12 ERA, set in 1968. That quest saw a sizable setback yesterday, as Jimenez gave up 6 earned runs against the Braves, raising his ERA to 1.60.

And of course, there has been Stephen Strasburg, who sets strikeout records every time he takes the mound.

It may be time though, to start watching Cliff Lee, who is flying under the radar this season because he didn't make his first start until the end of April. In fact, one might argue he's been flying under the radar since last post-season: the Phillies may have lost the series, but Lee did throw an absolute gem of a complete game in Game 1 - in fact, using Bill James's Game Score metric, it was the 9th best post-season performance since the mound was lowered in 1969.

And heck, the biggest news regarding Lee these days are probably the trade rumors (Cliff, the Mets welcome you with open arms).

After his complete game tonight against the Cubs, Lee's numbers to date this year might draw comparisons to his Cy Young campaign in 2008. Especially notable is the fact that after 86 and 2/3 innings pitched, Lee has 6 wins to show for it, and has walked 4 batters. People are starting to notice.

For those wondering, and really, it might just be me, pitchers don't often win more games in a season than they walk batters. It has happened once since 1919. The last player to do it was Bret Saberhagen, who won 14 games and walked 13 batters in 1994 for the New York Mets (as an aside, given the tendency these days to coddle young pitchers and limit their innings, it's fascinating to take a glance at Saberhagen's early years at Kansas City and wonder).

And it's not too early to start wondering if Lee can do it, either. In 2005, TWO pitchers on the Twins (Brad Radke and Carlos Silva) at one point in June had more wins than walks. And while Radke ended up losing his pace and walked a whopping 23 batters in his 200 innings pitched, Silva kept up his miserly walk rate the entire season, finishing with 9 walks in 188 innings pitched. Unfortunately for him, the Twins that year were dead last in runs scored in the AL, and Silva only won nine games.

And about as unfortunately for Lee, the Seattle Mariners are currently second to last in the AL in runs scored, ahead of only the Baltimore Orioles, who are looking to set some history by having the worst year ever for their storied franchise. So Lee will not be able to count on much run support. Nevertheless, ground-ball pitchers who don't give up many home runs, who strike out almost a batter an inning, and who give up fewer walks in a month than most pitchers do in a game tend to help their own cause pretty well. It's worth keeping an eye on.