Felix Is King

Sunday afternoon was simply another outing for Felix Hernandez. King Felix threw eight shutout innings against the Cleveland Indians, striking out nine, walking one, and only allowing four hits. The big game was nothing new for Hernandez this season, whose 2.38 ERA trails only Clay Buchholz among American League pitchers and whose 2.95 FIP trails only Francisco Liriano and Cliff Lee in that same group.

Given how remarkable Hernandez’s stuff is, it should be no surprise that he is among the best pitchers in the world. All of his pitches were at top form on Sunday, as we can see thanks to the Pitch F/X data from Brooks Baseball. His fastball sat between 92 and 96 and drew three swinging strikes in 40 pitches. Hernandez showed fantastic control of that pitch, as it was a strike 28 times overall – over 70% of the time. Batters clearly weren’t making good contact on his fastball either, as the pitch type linear weights value for the pitch was a whopping -2.2 runs for the game.

His other fastball, classified as a sinker by Pitch F/X but still in the 92-96 range, was similarly impressive, drawing five whiffs and notching 28 strikes in 43 pitches. Hernandez only had to go to his off-speed stuff 28 times, including a 90 MPH changeup which hardly classifies as off-speed. That changeup was only used seven times but proved deadly, as it drew four whiffs – an unfathomable 57.4% whiff rate. The slider, which averaged 85 MPH, wasn’t quite as impressive in terms of contact – three whiffs in 18 pitches – but Hernandez’s control of the pitch was excellent, as it went for a strike 13 times.

This start only adds to Hernandez’s fantastic 2010 line. Now, on the season, Hernandez has thrown 219.1 innings, striking out 209, walking only 60 and allowing 14 home runs. That comes out to rates of 8.58 K/9, 2.46 BB/9, and 0.57 HR/9 – numbers which finally equal the numbers that Hernandez put up as a 20 year old phenom with a blazing fastball out of the minor leagues. In 2005, that excellent rookie year, Hernandez posted a 2.67 ERA and a still career best 2.85 FIP in his first 12 major league starts. Hernandez’s FIP currently sits at 2.95, in a much larger sample. People expected great things out of him after that season, and although Hernandez has been nothing short of fantastic, this is the first time since that he has truly regained that level of greatness. It’s safe to say that Felix Hernandez has assumed the throne that many believed he would after such an impressive debut stint in the Major Leagues.

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EnglishMariner
Member
EnglishMariner

FYI Felix did issue one walk yesterday. It was still a great performance. It was nice to see him fill his boots against a weaker lineup before some potentially tricky starts later this month against TEX and TBR.

I’d love to see Felix win the Cy Young but with his win totals, I can’t see it going to anyone but C.C.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.

I think you’re right, and it’s unfortunate. As a Yankee fan, I love what CC has done in his two years here, and I shudder to think what the rotation would look like without him. But objectively speaking, he hasn’t been the best pitcher in the AL this year, and it’s not all that close. I think WAR undersells Sabathia a little bit because it’s based on FIP instead of tERA (which gives CC credit back for upping the ground ball rate instead of just docking him for falling strikeout rate), but it wouldn’t be enough to make a difference.

Dudinskyite
Guest
Dudinskyite

I like what you say. I give zero consideration to Fangraphs’ WAR for pitchers. Its supposedly saying that Liriano has been more valuable than CC, Hernandez, or Cliff Lee. That is just absurd. Just look at the innings pitched, Liriano’s not even on the mound enough to influence the teams chances as much as the other guys. Liriano has been good, and is probably underrated, but come on.

I hate the Yankees, but CC has been excellent and no one should take that away from him. Cliff Lee has been great as well. Its just the fact that Felix has been so insanely dominant that his performance overshadows all the other excellent pitching in the AL this year.

Unfortunately, sports writers have no shame in using faulty reasoning when they vote for individual awards, so Felix is probably going to get nothing to show for his brilliant season.

pele
Guest

totally ignoring FG’s WAR for pitchers is probably far worse than using only FG’s WAR to evaluate a pitchers value. I think using a weighting of FG and B-reference is probably best, giving more value to the site who’s method you agree with the most.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.

To clarify, I more agree with pele, that we should be looking at both metrics. Also, just because I prefer tERA doesn’t mean I think FIP is worthless.

pele
Guest

what site keeps updated tERA?

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.

This one does on the individual player pages (though I don’t think it’s on the leaderboards).