Change-UpJanuary 24, 2007
Last Impressions Are Lasting Impressions Part 2: The Hurlers
By Patrick Sullivan

Last Friday, I took a look at those hitters whose Post-All Star break numbers might portend a 2007 that will surprise baseball fans. This week, I will tackle the pitchers. Whose second half of the year in 2006 spells great things for 2007? Here goes one guy's take.

Starting Pitchers

Andy Pettitte
Post-All Star Break 2006: 93.1 IP, 2.80 ERA, 3.19 K/BB, 8.29 K/9

While teams tripped over themselves to ink the Gil Meches and Jeff Suppans of the world, the Yankees signed the guy that may very well have been the best pitcher in baseball over the last few months of 2006. Andy Pettitte, with little fanfare, dominated after the All Star break in 2006. While the press focuses their attention on the Bombers' neighbors to the northeast and their signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Yanks might have made the low-cost (relatively speaking) deal of the off-season.

C.C. Sabathia
Post ASB 2006: 103.0 IP, 2.97 ERA, 4.33 K/BB, 7.95 K/9

Doesn't it seem like this guy is perpetually on the cusp of superstardom? Now cast aside as a guy whose time has come and gone, the general baseball public seems to have settled on the notion that Sabathia is a mid-rotation, serviceable entity and little more. I disagree. Sabathia flashed good peripherals in 2006 and was phenomenal in the second half. Just 26, his time is yet to come.

Matt Cain
Post ASB 2006: 99.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 2.48 K/BB, 8.97 K/9

He's 22 and one of the most valuable commodities in baseball - a young pitcher with years of cheap service time ahead of him. The San Francisco Giants, and in particular their General Manager Brian Sabean, may have a reputation for assembling old teams but Cain is one of the best young players, position or hurlers, in all of baseball. I look for Cain to be a Cy Young candidate in 2007.

Rich Hill
Post ASB 2006: 80.0 IP, 2.93 ERA, 3.29 K/BB, 8.89 K/9

Rich Hill has been putting up video game type Minor League numbers for quite some time now. Stat-heads who like to contend that Minor League performance can very easily predict MLB numbers have witnessed their dissenters pointing to Hill as an example that it takes a little something extra in "The Show." Time and again Hill would warrant a call up, and time again he would fall flat on his face. Until the summer of 2006 that is. Hill seems to have figured out what he needs to do in order to translate his Minor League dominance into Major League competence.

Ben Sheets
Post ASB 2006: 85.2 IP, 3.15 ERA, 8.80 K/BB, 9.25 K/9

Everybody knows about Sheets and the numbers he put up in 2004. Everybody also seems to have written off the 28 year-old right-hander after consecutive injury-plagued seasons. Injury risk is real and I have no idea how Sheets is going to hold up going forward but fans ought to recognize that this guy is still one hell of a dominant force when he is out there. With their promising young nucleus, Sheets may well be the difference between Milwaukee competing for a division crown and faltering once again.


Dennys Reyes
Post ASB 2006: 29.0 IP, 0.31 ERA, 3.30 K/BB, 10.24 K/9

If you want a data point for the ground-ball/strikeout type that Rich has demonstrated are so damn effective, Reyes is your guy. A lot of the time he strikes 'em out and does it without letting 'em put it in play. But even when they do hit it, the result is often harmless as Reyes induces grounders with the best of them. Major League defenders are capable of scooping up grounders and tossing hitters out at will. Look for Reyes's star to shine a little brighter in 2006. He'll get the recognition he deserves.

Cla Meredith
Post ASB 2006: 45.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 5.50 K/BB, 6.60 K/9

Doug Mirabelli, huh? And Josh Bard as a throw in? Meredith dominated down the stretch in 2006, as he walked a batter about every full moon or so and effectively employed a strategy whereby he let hitters make a little contact at spacious Petco Park. Not quite a household name, look for Meredith to emerge as a bullpen star in 2007.

Takashi Saito
Post ASB 2006: 36.1 IP, 1.98 ERA, 4.17 K/BB, 12.39 K/9

Takashi Saito was as dominant as they come late in 2006. I am well aware that he will be 37 on Opening Day of 2007 but this guy clearly has the stuff to shut down Major League hitters and better still, his motion and delivery remain unfamiliar to the vast majority of them. Saito will still be one of the National League's very best in 2007.

You never know with the pitchers but these are the guys that I think will take up a lot more of the public's mindshare than you might anticipate in 2007. Each showed impressive stuff to close out 2006 and each should continue to impress in the forthcoming year.


C.C. may be underappreciated by the casual fan, but a lot of casual fans would take Randy Johnson over John Lackey.

Guys like Sabathia, Bonderman, Lackey and Myers are overlooked, but all of them are legit aces in my book. Bonderman is the one who is most in need of showing that he can turn his peripherals into a good "popular stats" season (ERA, W-L, etc.), but he's solid all around the board in every other wya.

I'm with Steve. I think it's kind of strange to call for a break-out for CC when he already broke-out the second half of 2005 and all of last year. He's already a star and already one of the 10 best pitchers in the world.

Cain a Cy Young candidate in 2007? He still needs to experience a large improvement in command and control to be a Cy Young Candidate. Unlike Sabathia's 2nd half of 2005, Cain's 2nd half of 2006 is overrated if he's being mentioned in Cy Young circles.

-I think there may be a little bit more than all that regarding the perception of Sabathia (not that I don't agree with the comments here, I'm just pointing out what the "other" side of the arguement might say). I think a lot of people look at him like they do Bartolo Colon...somewhat inconsistent, and always one more cheese steak away from eating himself out the league. Whether that really means anything or not, it is there.

-What makes you think Pettitte has received so little attention? As far as I could tell, he got plenty of attention AND was regarded as a tremendous pickup. The fact is that NY should have never let him leave, and everyone's nodding their heads now that he's back where he, quite honestly, belongs. I think the only reason the attention might have died down is because there's nothing more to say...we know what Pettitte can do, he's a NY expert, and we all expect him to be very good, as long as he avoids injury.

-Before we get too excited about Meredith, one reason to take pause: dominant statistical setup men are a dime a dozen in SD (something also seen in Atlanta). While I don't doubt that he is a very good pitcher, how much of his "stardom" his own ability, and how much is the place he plays in, I wonder?

the Yanks might have made the low-cost (relatively speaking) deal of the off-season.

Kinda think it was the other starter they signed, but I hope they both look very smart.

All fair points guys. A reasonable fan could put together one of these lists with their favorites and there could be no overlap whatsoever with mine.

Its just something fun to slap together while looking over 2nd half splits. These are the guys that stuck out to me and are being overlooked by the broader public from my vantage point.

Pettitte's 35. He's moving from one of the worst hitting divisions in baseball to one of the best. I don't seem any reason not to assume that he's going to give the Yankees exactly what you would expect from a 35 year old guy in those circumstances. I think it's a little loony to project some sort of surprise from such a player based on 93 IP after the ASB. I also think it's a little disrespectful to readers to put something like this together as analysis (after all, the site is Baseball Analysts) and then throw out the comment that it was "something fun to slap together".

Whoa, that sure strikes me as an unnecessary low blow. What's wrong with this article? Just because it doesn't use sabermetric adjustments and the like doesn't mean it isn't valid or worthwhile! Come on now...I'm sure there are plenty of casual visitors to this site who appreciate having the names of guys who performed very well after the ASB rolled into a single, simple article.

I think he was only pointing out that it's a nice thing to have, despite not being tremendously difficult to produce. He still did his research and made some sure satisfied me. Let's not turn up our noses at efforts like this...why should "knowlegeble" fans get all uppity because they know the limitations of articles like this? Get off your high horse!

What's wrong with the article is that I find it a little disrespectful to your readers to present your work as having value and have them read your work and then respond to their comments and questions by saying this is just something "fun to slap together". I'm not sure why you think saying something is a little disrespectful is such a low blow. It's not like I tore him a new one.

I do think that at a site like this that usually presents pretty solid analysis, expectations are higher than just slapping things together. Anyone can get that on any half-baked fantasy board.

the Yankees signed the guy that may very well have been the best pitcher in baseball over the last few months of 2006

Johan Santana, post ASB:

IP: 102.2
ERA: 2.54
K/BB: 4.65
K/9: 9.42
Pitchers faced: 0

Pettitte was very good, but "may very well have been the best pitcher in baseball"? Puh-leeze.

Pettitte seems to have a history of better second half performances. With Houston in 05, he was better than Clemens in the second half. He also had the same tendency the first time around with NY..his career pre-ASB ERA is 4.12 and his career post-ASB ERA is 3.50. My point is that the 06 second half performance may not signal anything about "continuing" that level of performance into the first half of 07; that second half performance was just a continuation of a normal pattern for him. His 2nd half performance in 06 may be helpful in showing that he can continue to pitch through elbow problems, though.