We’re going to close out this mini-series by looking at two NL pitchers who have been overshadowed by their teammates Cy Young-level performances. Though they’re not the best pitchers on their respective teams by any stretch, these players deserve more recognition than simply being acknowledged as the second fiddle to the aces fronting their clubs’ rotations.
Josh Johnson has been the most valuable pitcher in baseball in 2010, according to WAR. Though a Cy Young argument can certainly be made for Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, and any of maybe a dozen pitchers, there’s no question that Johnson is up there with the best of the hurlers in the NL. However, he’s not the only anchor in the Marlins’ rotation. Anibal Sanchez has quite quietly put up a 3.9 WAR season, 9th best among NL pitchers. Sanchez has been on the radar of baseball fans ever since 2006, when he no-hit the DBacks as a rookie. I’m not quite sure why his fantastic season isn’t getting him a little more press, but I have to think pitching on the same mound as Josh Johnson isn’t helping. Sanchez has put up a 3.35 ERA, which becomes even more impressive when you consider his 3.26 FIP, suggesting his season is due to his skill rather than the simple addition of some good luck. Still only 26, Sanchez should be a productive piece of the Marlins' rotation for years to come.
Jason Hammel has found himself in a quite similar situation. Though he’s pitched fantastically, Ubaldo Jimenez had a ridiculous start to the season and has cooled off only slightly since. Hammel’s having a great season in his own right, putting up a 3.9 WAR that equals Sanchez’s up to this point. Though his 4.34 ERA is unimpressive, he’s been quite unlucky, and his FIP of 3.48 ranks him 16th in the NL. Hammel’s high ERA-FIP split is due largely to a .324 BABIP that eclipses the rest of Colorado’s staff. Jimenez’s BABIP currently sits at .274, suggesting his stellar year involved a good bit of luck in addition to Jimenez’s raw pitching ability. Perhaps if Hammel hadn’t been so unlucky and his ERA more accurately reflected the skill he’s shown this season, he’d be getting a bit more ink. Whatever the reason, Hammel’s a name you should know, as the 28-year-old has been one of the best pitchers in the NL in 2010.
Thanks for reading! Check back tomorrow, when we’ll finally call the NL Central race. Sorry, St. Louis, but you’ve got plenty to be excited about in 2011. As if just getting to watch the greatest hitter of our generation isn't enough.