Top 5 Pitchers of the 2000’s

Now that the first decade of the 2000’s is gone, I know what you’re all thinking – “Jake, I’m a terrifically lazy, good-for-nothing human being, and I have no tolerance for doing any sort of research but I still really want to know who the top 5 pitchers of the 2000’s are.” Well good people, I have gone through the painstaking research necessary and am ready to present my exciting results.

Actually the results are not that exciting. I’m sure most people who know anything about baseball could guess 3, 4, maybe all 5 first try. But its still fun to have a go.

Preface: Let’s keep in mind the magnitude of achievement of these pitchers – The late 90’s and the first part of the 00’s were the heyday for steroids hitting. The kind of numbers these guys put up despite the widespread steroid use is amazing.

Honorable Mention: CC Sabathia (136 wins, 3.62 ERA, ’07 Cy Young), Roger Clemens (3.34 ERA, 203 K/year, Cy Young ’01, ’04), Roy Oswalt (137 wins, 3.23 ERA, 135 ERA+), Mike Mussina (134 Wins, 4.09 K/BB, Gold Glove ’01, ’03, ’08).

5.) Curt Schilling – He is probably the best pitcher of the ’90s and ’00s to never win a Cy young (finished 2nd three times). Greatly unappreciated, Schill’s numbers and his big game pedigree should not be overlooked. Ultra-consistent, and durable to the end, Schill was everything any fan could ever ask for. Over the 2000’s Schill averaged a 18-9 record and 228 K’s per 162 games. His most amazing stat was his K/BB ratio, which was the best of all-time in the modern era and during the 2000’s he averaged an amazing 6.01 (his career number is 4.38). Schill will be best remembered for his bloody sock game that propelled the Sox to the ’04 WS. Flat out dude was a fighter and a winner.

4.) Roy Halladay – One of the only pitchers considered still playing, and playing well at that, Roy Halladay started the 2000’s relatively unknown and struggling to find his stuff, making his presence on this list all the more impressive. Roy found his stuff fast, and his numbers are impressive considering he had to pitch against the Yanks and the Sox in division. Halladay leads all pitchers in the 2000’s with 6 All-Star game selections and won his first Cy Young in ’03. His 3.43 ERA, average of 17 wins a season, 1.17 WHIP and workhorse mentallity (lead the MLB in IP 3 years during the 2000’s) position him securely in the 4 spot.

3.) Pedro Martinez – Now to the meat of the list. The next three are by far the three best of the decade and only their order is disputable. Personally speaking, Pedro is my favorite pitcher of the of all time – the way he made right handers look silly with his back door two-seamer was the best – but there is no bias in this pick. Pedro’s numbers in the 2000’s back up his place in 3rd. Most people’s last memory of Pedro is him struggling at the end of his career, but the first half of the 2000’s he was dominant. Pedro’s Cy Young came in 2000 and capped a 3-in-4-years Cy Young kick. His 2000 season is worth recounting – facing the most juiced up batters in history, Pedro unleashed this stat line: 18-6, 1.74 ERA, 284 K’s, 8.88 K/BB, and 0.74 WHIP. 0.74!! My god for a starter that is unreal. Actually the best ever for a single season. Over the 2000’s Pedro’s 3.01 ERA and 1.03 WHIP was best, and his 244 K’s a year put him second. Pedro is really only trumped, somehow, by two guys.

2.) Randy Johnson – Arguably the best pitcher of the 90’s to 00’s, Randy won 3 Cy Youngs back-to-back-to-back from ’00-’02 and made 4 AS games. Guys were actually afraid of Randy and his upper ’90s stuff (if you remember the all-star game I’m referring to you know what I’m talking about). He was the most prolific strike out pitcher of our time, and in the 00’s he struck out 2182 averaging a meteoric 262 a year. His 3.34 ERA and 1.11 WHIP also weren’t too bad, and he was an integral part of that Diamondback squad that pulled out a game 7 win against the Yanks in ’00. Last thing – From ’00 to ’02 Randy average 21 wins a year, a 2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 351 K’s a year. You read that right, 351…

1.) Johan Santana – Even I forgot just how dominant Johan was during the 2000’s. When I started to look at his starts again I began to recall a game I heard on the radio when I was much younger. Pedro vs. Johan. Pedro on his way out and Johan on his way in, it was a game in which both pitchers brought shutouts into the 8th. I remember thinking it couldn’t be possible someone was better than Pedro, or as dominant, but I was proved wrong and Johan finished his complete game shutout with the Win. Onto the stats. Johan is the only guy in the 00’s with a Gold Glove (’07) and a Cy Young (’04, ’06). Across the board Johan’s numbers were spectacular – 122 Wins, 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 217 K’s a year. His consistency throughout the whole of the 2000’s is what puts him above all in my mind. In a five year period, Johan average 18 wins, 2.82 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 238 K’s a year and 4.58 K/BB. That’s five years of dominance that no one else can match and that’s what makes Johan the best of all in the 2000’s.

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Nancy Drew and the Curious Case of Sabremetrics

I was at the first game of the Sox-Orioles series last week where we put a hurting on O’s pitching for 6 HRs. Highlight of the game was Ortiz-Reddick-Saltala….whatever combining for back-to-back-to-back shots. The stadium was going insane, a great moment no doubt and everyone was cheering for a fourth.

Guess who but JD aka Nancy Drew was the fourth batter in the inning and if you know anything about JD Drew, you can predict the outcome – Brought the count to 3-2, without swinging of course, and then took ball 4 – Classic JD. Never has a stadium been more deflated after a home team walk.

Look, I’m not trying to say that I expect a player to go up and hit the 4th HR, no matter who they are, but I have some expectations of my players. I expect them to realize the situation – We’re up big, its late in the game, we’ve just hit 3 straight bombs, the stadium is on edge – And I expect that player to respond, not with a passive walk, but by swinging for the fences. Look he’ll probably strikeout or fly out, but at least we know the guy cares and we respect that.

And that’s really been the perennial JD issue: Does he care? No one really knows for sure, but for everyone that has seen him play, Sox fans now for 4 going on 5 years, the question has already been answered.

Years ago, before a little thing called sabremetrics gained saint-status in baseball, JD was considered an average player and he produced and was paid as an average player (.286 and a paultry 18 HRs 57 RBI a year, hence the “average” player rating). But once sabremetrics became, well, every GM’s porn, JD became a statistical superstar.

Before sabremetrics, MLB GMs were in the dark ages of analysis. AVG, HRs and RBIs were paramount, and there wasn’t much more after that. Once sabremetrics arrived on the scene, relatively older stats like OBP and OPS gained importance, and new stats like WAR and UZR became the new HR and RBI.

JD comes in now – In his time before coming to Boston, JD was .286/.393/.512/.904 which is, well, superstar-like. His WAR topped at 8.9, a very high wins above replacement, and per 162 he was over 5 almost every season. JD has had a positive career UZR, (an advanced fielding stat which would take 1000 words to explain) which is an above replacement stat, meaning he has always been better than the average fielder (topping at an amazing 16.3 in ’04). His other stats are not dissimilar, his BSR, a baserunning above replacement, is also positive for his career, BABIP is above average, weighted runs added are… etc. etc.

But if you’re a Sox fan, or you know your baseball, you know what you get out of JD Drew. He’s emotionless and may or may not actually have a pulse. The guy isn’t clutch by any means, and he goes through his at-bats in a meticulous, bordering-on annoying, way (by looking at every pitch). Sure he still has respectable OBP and OPS numbers these days, but he’s not the 5-tool player that scouts promised and sabremetrics backed up.

This is getting a bit long, so let me go ahead and make my point. The Red Sox, and the Braves and Dodgers before him, decided to use these advanced stats and they gave him a huge contract (he’s making $14 million a year today). Sure his advanced stats back this up, but these teams seemed to miss the point. Tangibly, JD is only really good for his aforementioned “average” stats because he can never make it through a 162 game season. More importantly, JD brings nothing to the table as far as intangibles go. He’s not a character guy, he’s not a fan favorite, and its what he doesn’t do (show emotion), rather than what he does, which pisses off every fan.

I personally love the baseball stats revolution – It has rewarded the players who’s HR/RBI stats were limited by his team, and those who cashed in on their teams successes statistically have been exposed. Managers have learned to use these stats and have built championship teams due to their creation. But sabremetrics has another side, the side that dehumanizes baseball, which turns men into statistical probabilities, and takes away from the passion of the sport, and JD is the the incarnate of the dehumanizing side of the sabremetrics era.

Is it fair then to hate on JD Drew for his huge contract and his weak statistical output? Probably not, he’s just the product of the sabremetrics era. But that’s not stopping me.

I’ve seen more emotion from wallpaper you bum.

Baseball Realignment… If We’re Lucky

Lurking in the background of the sports news landscape like Jax at a Sig Chi party stalking the next unsuspecting freshman girl is the discussion of baseball realignment. If you haven’t been paying attention its not entirely your fault, the NBA and NHL finals have been in the forefront, relegating the MLB to the secondary news of the day. That being said, such a monumental change to a sport hasn’t been suggested in our lifetimes, and with some owners claiming it to be a 50-50 ordeal, we ought to spend a little time thinking about what we as fans should really want.

So realignment essentially amounts to is a restructuring of the league to level out the competition. Of course this makes sense on paper – Having the Yanks, Sox, and Rays in the same division could very well amount to having the top three teams in a league together in the same division, with one team missing out on the playoffs as a result of the idiotic structure. Imagine the Colts, Pats, and Steelers in a division together – Then imagine that there was no salary cap and that these teams could maintain their dominance. Of course this isn’t the situation in the NFL, their league makes sense: It has a salary cap. Baseball on the other hand is the China of pro sports, everyone’s poor except for those 4 rich guys who run everything. Forget salary cap its not happening.

So say we have a realignment, what can we expect? Well the god-awful AL West and NL West finally get broken up. Seriously, how many years in a row do we have to have the embarrassing “I wonder if a team will finish above .500 in the NL West” discussion. The AL and NL East get broken up to diffuse the dominance. As fans this sounds pretty smart, but its the way that the divisions are broken up which matters most. So what can we expect?

Two possibilities actually:

1.) Divisions go away, AL and NL remain. One team moves from the NL to the AL and two 15 team leagues emerge. Pretty easy – Get some team to move that doesn’t belong geographically to its division or just generally flies under the radar (Marlins, Astros fit both criteria).

Problems: Rivalries go away for the most part, Yanks/Sox, Dodgers/Giants, Cards/Cubs become less meaningful. Remember there’s actually some pride in winning the pennant in your division. The Sox and their fans hate when the Yanks win, and vice-versa. Also all this really resolves is the Yanks/Sox/Rays power division situation and takes away a lot of the fun of divisional ball. As fans let’s go ahead and veto.

2.) Reorganize the divisions. Trickier yes, but done in the right way and we could be onto something exciting. Certain things must prevail for this to work. The aforementioned rivalries had better stay put – As a game of tradition you can bet that forcing new rivalries is going to be an unsuccessful venture. Also geographic proximity is still important, so that should be kept in mind. How then do we split the teams up for this to work? Let’s give it a shot:

2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 5 teams:

AL East – Yanks, Sox, Orioles, Reds, Pirates

AL Central – Cubs, Cards, Tigers, Twins, White Sox,

AL West – Angels, Rockies, Padres, Mariners, D’Backs

NL East – Mets, Phils, Indians, Nationals, Jays

NL Central – Rays, Marlins, Braves, Brewers, Astros

NL West – Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, A’s, Royals

Quick Thoughts: Yanks/Sox in AL East will always be dominant, lets sacrifice some teams to the baseball gods to keep status quo in that division. AL Central stays fun with Cubs/Cards – Inter-city Cubs/White Sox becomes a more heated rivalry. AL West has a much needed face-lift. NL East Keeps Mets/Phils – Upstart Indians and promising Nationals lurk behind the big spenders. NL Central get an interstate rivalry in Rays/Marlins, Braves can be counted on to compete. West gets real interesting with the 3-team Dodgers/Giants/Rangers fight to the top.

Of course this is never going to happen, but it would be fucking awesome if it did. Baseball needs a makeover anyway, so let’s think outside the box for once. I’m looking at you MLB. Make it happen.

Feed me feedback.

You Cheeky Bastards…

Yeah they say stuff like that here. First post, oh let’s do it.

Thursday night, 9:35PM, and guess what, no sports. This is standard operating procedure in the UK of course, once soccer ends, so does any semblance of sport as well. Honestly, unless you’re some sort of huge darts enthusiast, or you’ve been studying the intricacies of cricket for the 4 years required to learn the game, then you’re out of luck.

A few days ago we had the renowned summer boat races. Amidst the native-folk who apparently appreciate their boat races for their beauty or whatever nonsense they convince themselves to think, I found myself cheering slightly too aggressively for boats. Boats. Boats are not cool, they’re hardly interesting actually. Sometimes they bump into each other – Its like Nascar, only on water, much slower, and you have to substitute rednecks for really up-tight Brits.

I think it hit me there – There is a serious a lack of sports here, and everywhere around the world, besides the US of course. Its amazing actually, it also explains the drinking problem that has developed here. See there’s something really great about sports. It brings people together, it gets the blood pumping, we need it. Start to think about it, NFL, NBA, MLB, College football and basketball, NHL, Professional Lax (for the brahs) – We are so lucky.

Sports are great, and I miss them. Sure I can stream them sometimes, but its not easy staying up ’till 4AM, its also impossible to do on a daily basis. In all honesty I would take anything right now. So Nolan Patrick Seamus Finnegan Maalicky, the merits of baseball? Baseball is something, its something America has and cares about, and it doesn’t exist here. I would kill to watch a ballgame right now.

If you’ll excuse me I’m going to go watch the Ocho.