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And then there were four.  All four of these men have produced outstanding seasons so far, but who is the best pitcher in all of baseball?  Is it Tigers ace, flamethrower Justin Verlander?  What about the Dodgers young stud, the national league strikeout leader, Clayton Kershaw?  Perhaps Kershaw’s cross town rival, the 2010 major league strikeout leader Jered Weaver of the Angels?  Or maybe it’s “The Good Doctor” himself, the 2010 NL CY Young award winner Roy Halladay?  Let’s find out.



To recap the stats of these four pitchers, they look like this:

Verlander

GS

W-L

ERA

IP

K

SO/BB

WHIP

WAR

FIP

17

10-3

2.38

128.2

124

4.59

0.839

3.6

2.83

Verlander leagues the major leagues in GS, W, IP, and WHIP.

Halladay

GS

W-L

ERA

IP

K

SO/BB

WHIP

WAR

FIP

17

10-3

2.40

127.1

123

7.69

1.029

4.5

2.15

Halladay pitches in the NL so the bold reflects the NL lead, though he does lead the major leagues in GS, W, SO/BB, WAR, and FIP.

Kershaw

GS

W-L

ERA

IP

K

SO/BB

WHIP

WAR

FIP

17

8-3

2.93

116.2

128

4.00

1.029

3.4

2.49

Kershaw tops the majors in GS and K.

Weaver

GS

W-L

ERA

IP

K

SO/BB

WHIP

WAR

FIP

17

9-4

1.97

123.1

106

3.79

0.932

3.9

2.36

For Weaver, his GS leads the majors, and his WAR and FIP lead the AL.

 And the leader board so far has eliminated Josh Beckett*, Jair Jurrjens, Cliff Lee*, and James Shields*

*all stats have changed since the original article, although only Lee would have a case to move up on the board. 


So who is the next to go?

One staggering stat stands out with Jered Weaver- his ERA.  1.97 is remarkable, and after Beckett’s outing yesterday, now leads the American League.  But Weaver’s career ERA is 3.36, nearly a run and a half higher.  Last year he took the baseball world by storm, striking out 233, nearly 60 points higher than his career best, so maybe Weaver is finally getting comfortable pitching in the AL.  But historically players have their best year at age 27 (which Weaver did) which may suggest he has peaked.  But then again, maybe not.  His strikeout numbers are down, but so are his walks, his home runs, his BAA, his WHIP, and his FIP.  Also down this year is his groundball rate, while his flyball rate has risen.  So somehow he is allowing more balls in the air, but less are leaving the yard.  For Weaver though, his BAA is indeed down as previously mentioned, but his BAbip is still 50 points higher.  With a high strikeout guy like Weaver (as well as an increased line drive rate), he is definitely garnering a lot of help from the Angels in the outfield (and infield).    Whether he is just getting a lot of aid from his defense, or this is truly Weaver’s best year to date, he’s just not having the year that the remaining pitchers are.

Verlander, Beckett, Halladay, Jurrjens, Kershaw, Lee, Shields, Weaver


I think that his name on this list is a bit of a surprise to non-Dodgers fans, as his national attention is minimal.  After examining his numbers, there is no doubt in my mind that Clayton Kershaw deserves to be this high.  So why did he make it this far?  Strikeouts are by far and away his most predominant stat, and that makes many wonder- where is he without them?  What if he suddenly can’t miss a bat?  He has a groundball rate 42.9%, has induced 7 groundball double plays, and has had 8 homers hit against him.  That means he has almost rolled up as many double plays as home runs allowed, extraordinary for a power, strikeout pitcher.  He throws a first pitch strike 62.8% time; to break that down further, 17 of 27 batters would start an at bat with Kershaw with an 0-1 count.  He throws his slider more than double his career rate, inducing 11% of his strikes swinging, a career high.  Many MLBNetwork analysts listed Kershaw as the player to watch as the NL CY Young Award, and it’s hard to disagree with them.  Kershaw deserves to be listed as an elite pitcher in this game, no doubt about that.   Unfortunately he’s not quite at the top…yet.  This year his home run rate is up, on pace for a career high 14 allowed.  Even if many of his peripheral stats are career highs, his ERA is also quite high, 2.93, the highest since his rookie year.  Basically, more balls are leaving the yard, and more runs are scoring this year against Kershaw.  If he can lower the amount of opposing players touching home plate, he might make it even more difficult for me to eliminate him.  The best way to compare Kershaw to the two remaining pitchers is the age old question- would you rather have Kershaw over Verlander or Halladay?  According to this list he is still the best LHP in the game so Dodgers fans, you better hope this guy doesn’t go anywhere.

Verlander, Beckett, Halladay, Jurrjens, Kershaw, Lee, Shields, Weaver

By the way,Kershaw and Weaver are set to duel Saturday Anaheim, so if you love pitchers duels, make you sure you keep an eye on that game.


Now comes the hard part.  Only two remain.  I think you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree that the AL and NL CY Young awards respectively belong to Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay.  Now Verlander is pitching right now, while Halladay doesn’t make his 18th start of the season until Saturday.  Therefore I will post the winner of Who Is The Best Pitcher In Baseball after Halladay’s start is over.


Once again all stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com
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