There's A New Sheriff in Town
Francisco Liriano pitched seven scoreless innings yesterday and is now eligible to be listed among the league leaders in rate stats such as ERA and one of our favorites, strikeouts per 100 pitches (or K/100P). The rookie southpaw allowed four hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in winning his 10th game and lowering his league-leading ERA to 1.83 Liriano's ERA is nearly a full run better than the #2 pitcher, teammate Johan Santana (2.76).
Among AL pitchers, Liriano ranks:
According to Elias, Liriano is the second rookie to head into the All-Star break with at least 10 wins and a sub-2.00 ERA. The other was Jerry Koosman of the New York Mets in 1968 when he was 11-4 with an ERA of 1.94. There is one big difference between these two seasons. Koosman's rookie campaign was the Year of the Pitcher. The league-wide ERA was 2.98. The Cincinnati Reds had the worst team ERA at 3.56. This year, on the other hand, the league-wide ERA is 4.56--or more than 50% higher!
Outside of the Mark Redman family, does anyone really believe that the fans of Kansas City would rather see the Royals veteran LHP than the Twins rookie LHP in the All-Star game?
Here are the K/100P totals for all qualified pitchers:
PLAYER TEAM K/100P F. Liriano Min 7.86 Johan Santana Min 7.08 Pedro Martinez NYM 7.04 Jake Peavy SD 6.59 J. Bonderman Det 6.50 Scott Kazmir TB 6.37 C.C. Sabathia Cle 5.91 Carlos Zambrano ChC 5.82 Felix Hernandez Sea 5.82 Mike Mussina NYY 5.81 Chris Capuano Mil 5.81 Aaron Harang Cin 5.81 John Smoltz Atl 5.78 Dave Bush Mil 5.78 Curt Schilling Bos 5.67 Chris Young SD 5.61 O. Hernandez NYM 5.52 Chris Carpenter StL 5.51 Ted Lilly Tor 5.43 Jason Schmidt SF 5.35 Brandon Webb Ari 5.28 Josh Beckett Bos 5.24 Randy Johnson NYY 5.16 Vicente Padilla Tex 5.14 John Lackey LAA 5.12 Dan Haren Oak 4.99 Brett Myers Phi 4.92 Cory Lidle Phi 4.89 Ian Snell Pit 4.84 Bronson Arroyo Cin 4.79 Javier Vazquez CWS 4.77 Jason Jennings Col 4.74 Erik Bedard Bal 4.73 Kelvim Escobar LAA 4.67 Gil Meche Sea 4.63 Brad Penny LA 4.62 Chan Ho Park SD 4.61 Roy Oswalt Hou 4.59 Ervin Santana LAA 4.54 Barry Zito Oak 4.49 Nate Robertson Det 4.48 Jose Contreras CWS 4.43 Taylor Buchholz Hou 4.38 Kevin Millwood Tex 4.37 Andy Pettitte Hou 4.34 Doug Davis Mil 4.24 Tom Glavine NYM 4.23 Jeff Weaver StL 4.19 Tim Wakefield Bos 4.18 Tim Hudson Atl 4.17 J. Verlander Det 4.12 Greg Maddux ChC 4.10 Roy Halladay Tor 4.04 Sean Marshall ChC 4.03 Cliff Lee Cle 4.03 Jeff Francis Col 3.94 D. Willis Fla 3.83 Kenny Rogers Det 3.78 Paul Maholm Pit 3.78 Wandy Rodriguez Hou 3.76 Zach Duke Pit 3.74 Matt Morris SF 3.72 M. Hendrickson LA 3.66 Miguel Batista Ari 3.66 Paul Byrd Cle 3.64 Freddy Garcia CWS 3.62 Rodrigo Lopez Bal 3.61 Mark Mulder StL 3.53 Jamie Moyer Sea 3.47 Jake Westbrook Cle 3.44 Livan Hernandez Was 3.41 Clay Hensley SD 3.37 Jarrod Washburn Sea 3.34 Joe Blanton Oak 3.30 Ramon Ortiz Was 3.28 Derek Lowe LA 3.26 Jamey Wright SF 3.23 Brad Radke Min 3.20 Jon Garland CWS 3.08 Aaron Cook Col 3.05 Jason Marquis StL 3.04 John Koronka Tex 3.03 Kris Benson Bal 3.01 Jeff Suppan StL 3.00 Mark Buehrle CWS 2.98 Josh Fogg Col 2.92 Steve Trachsel NYM 2.79 Carlos Silva Min 2.77 Joel Pineiro Sea 2.72 Scott Elarton KC 2.60 Chien-Ming Wang NYY 2.41
Four of the top five pitchers in the AL--Liriano, Santana, Scott Kazmir, and C.C. Sabathia--are left-handers. The only other pitcher in the top five is right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, who is enjoying a breakout season.
I like to look for pitchers who combine the ability to strike out batters and induce groundballs. The top five pitchers in K/100P who also have a G/F ratio of at least 2.0 are Liriano (2.31), Bonderman (2.03), Felix Hernandez (2.18), Chris Carpenter (2.15), and Brandon Webb (3.84). All five pitchers rank in the top 21 in K/100P and top 13 in G/F.
On the other end of the spectrum, I dislike pitchers who allow an inordinate number of flyballs and are unable to miss bats. The bottom five in K/100P with G/F under 1.00 are Scott Elarton with the second-worst K/100P and G/F (0.58) in the majors, Steve Trachsel (0.95), Jarrod Washburn (0.98), Livan Hernandez (0.86), and Jamie Moyer (0.93). Of these pitchers, only Elarton is an extreme flyball type. I have no idea why the Royals keep throwing his glove out there and hereby nominate the 30-year-old right-hander as the worst "regular" starting pitcher in the big leagues.
Chien-Ming Wang (3.24 G/F), Aaron Cook (3.43), Jamey Wright (2.86), Derek Lowe (3.56), and Jake Westbrook (3.28) can get away with low K/100P rankings because they keep the ball on the ground and in the ballpark. However, Wright is walking too many batters (43 in 110 1/3 or 3.50 BB/9) to be effective, as evidenced by his 1.26 K/BB rate and 5.06 ERA.
Now it's also important to point out that pitchers don't have to induce grounders to be successful. Pedro Martinez, Jake Peavy, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Chris Young, Jason Schmidt, and John Lackey have pitched well, despite allowing more flyballs than groundballs. Why? Because they all rank among the top 25 in K/100P.