A Slightly Sabermetric (But Not Really) Look at the Best Starting Pitcher in the NL East

I love talking prospects and trust me, as we get closer to pitchers and catchers reporting and we continue to mark our calendars towards opening day, I will do plenty of writing on baseball’s up and comers. For now, I want to switch things up and open a new conversation about some of the established guys in the bigs, in particular the NL East. I am going to start a 10 week series picking the best player at each position within the division, leading us right up to opening day. As the title says, I will back up some of these choices sabermetrically but more so by the impact I think each guy has on their team as a whole. I would love to get your take and start a conversation on your picks! For now, let’s dive in with week one and the best starting pitcher.

Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer (WAS)

We begin with a position that could be a coin flip between Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard in terms of who you would want on the mound more in 2017. They are the two best starting pitchers in the division, but for different reasons.

The Slightly Sabermetric:

When you evaluate these guys by slightly more advanced numbers the argument can be made in Syndergaard’s favor.  

2016 Syndergaard Scherzer
WAR 6.5 5.6
ERA 2.60 2.96
AVG .240 .196
WHIP 1.15 0.97
FIP 2.29 3.24
BABIP .334 .255

I love FIP and BABIP when it comes to evaluating pitchers. It factors in how much of a role the team’s defense played into a pitcher’s numbers. Based on these numbers, there is no disputing Scherzer had the better defense behind him last season which boosts his numbers and makes them more appealing to the casual baseball fan. I’m putting the stats right in front of you and the majority of them say Syndergaard is the guy, Scherzer’s defense makes his numbers look better than what they really are. Right? The thing is, I’m not “sabermetric crazy” when it comes to evaluating pitchers and apparently neither are the 25 BBWAA writers that gave Scherzer first place Cy Young votes in 2016.

The Not Really Sabermetric

At the end of the day, you have to factor in how much better a workhorse like Scherzer makes your team. He has thrown at least 214 innings each of the last four years, including logging more innings than any other NL pitcher in 2016. He also gave up the second fewest hits among guys that threw at least 200 innings and he led all of baseball in strikeouts… by 30. He gave up a lot of home runs, 31 in 34 games, but outside of that he was as reliable as they come. It is hard to measure how much a guy means to a team when he can almost guarantee an easy day at the office for the bullpen and defense, that is exactly what Scherzer does every time he takes the mound.  

Let’s hear from you! Which starting pitcher would you want leading your team in 2017? Also, be on the lookout for part two of the series when we discuss which guy you want coming out of the pen for your team next season! Best relief pitcher for 2017 in the NL East next Wednesday!

Photo Courtesy of: twitter.com/max_scherzer

Stats Courtesy of: fangraphs.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s