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Max Scherzer is trying to crash the aces-only party for MLB strikeout leaders

Aug 22, 2012, 5:20 PM EDT

Max Scherzer Getty Getty Images

Usually the MLB strikeout leader is a big-name, Cy Young-caliber pitcher.

In fact, every single MLB strikeout leader during the past 20 years fits that description:

Randy Johnson (nine times)
Johan Santana (two times)
Justin Verlander (two times)
Curt Schilling (two times)
Jered Weaver
Tim Lincecum
Jake Peavy
Kerry Wood
John Smoltz

You get the idea.

If the season ended today Max Scherzer would be joining that amazing company, as the Tigers right-hander has an MLB-leading 186 strikeouts to go along with a pedestrian 4.41 ERA. In terms of raw stuff Scherzer has always seemed like a potential ace, but he’s 27 years old with a 4.01 career ERA and would obviously stick out from the above list like a sore thumb.

Stephen Strasburg trails Scherzer for the MLB strikeout lead 186-to-183 and would certainly fit in better with that group, but the Nationals’ plan to limit his workload down the stretch will make it very tough for Strasburg to overtake Scherzer.

However, next up on this year’s leaderboard are R.A. Dickey (181), Justin Verlander (180), Felix Hernandez (179), and Clayton Kershaw (175). So if Scherzer is going to win the strikeout title and crash the big-name party he’s going to have to hold off a bunch of big names to do it.

  1. chill1184 - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Just another reason why Baseball is awesome.

  2. El Bravo - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Scherzer is on his way to big name status…if he wins the K record this season, he’s a lot closer to big name status. He’s putting together a second half so good that it makes his up n down first half meaningless.

    • dan1111 - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:55 AM

      When Randy Johnson won his first strikeout title, he was 28 with a 3.95 career ERA. He had a lot of potential, but had barely pitched above average up to that point.

      So maybe this bodes well for Scherzer.

  3. Brian Murphy - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    R.A. Dickey’s name among that group would sure looks a lot stranger than Scherzer’s.

    • bigleagues - Aug 22, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      No longer looks so strange to me – especially because Dickey is having an all-around high caliber season.

      That can’t be said of Scherzer.

      • Brian Murphy - Aug 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

        We’re talking about just strikeouts. When it comes to strikeouts and considering the company of Johnson, Wood, Verlander, etc., which name would look out of place?

        The guy who throws his fastball at 94 MPH on average or the knuckleballer who, until 2012, hadn’t had a K/9 average of more than 7 in a decade?

      • bigleagues - Aug 23, 2012 at 1:11 AM

        WHO is just talking about strikeouts? Seriously, I can read and comprehend fairly well . . .

        The premise of Gleeman’s post is, and I quote directly from his first two lines:

        Usually the MLB strikeout leader is a big-name, Cy Young-caliber pitcher.

        In fact, every single MLB strikeout leader during the past 20 years fits that description:

        Hmmmm . . .

        Well let’s see . . . is Max Scherzer having a Cy Young-caliber season? NO.

        Is R.A. Dickey having a Cy Young-caliber season? Arguably, YES.

        Since 2010, Dickey has pretty clearly been in a class above Scherzer. ERA, ERA+, WHIP and WAR pretty clearly illustrate that.

        Finally, your comment in the context of Aaron Gleeman’s post, did not reflect what you believed it to.

        Next time, I suggest you include a qualifier such as “If we are speaking strictly of Strikeout Pitchers, then R.A. Dickey’s name among . . .

        That is all.

      • bigleagues - Aug 23, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        I guess I should never be shocked at how many people ‘miss the point’.

  4. reggietfromda623 - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    I agree brian this is r.a.’s only good year

    • bigleagues - Aug 22, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      Uh huh.

      Only good year.

      And I guess his previous two season, were what? Terrible?

      Year        Age  W  L W-L%  ERA GS CG SHO    IP   H  BB  SO ERA+  WHIP
      2010         35 11  9 .550 2.84 26  2   1 174.1 165  42 104  138 1.187
      2011         36  8 13 .381 3.28 32  1   0 208.2 202  54 134  112 1.227
      2012         37 15  4 .789 2.82 25  4   2 175.1 140  40 181  136 1.027
      NYM (3 yrs)     34 26 .567 3.00 83  7   3 558.1 507 136 419  127 1.152

      Provided by View Original TableGenerated 8/22/2012.

      • atworkident - Aug 23, 2012 at 7:55 AM

        8-13 isn’t a good year… unless you pitch for the Astros, then you are the ace.

      • mntreehugger - Aug 23, 2012 at 8:39 AM

        Yeah because win/loss record is such a great measure of success.

  5. tmohr - Aug 23, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Scherzer’s BABIP is .355, which is the highest of any Tigers starter. That may help explain his high-ish ERA.

    • bigleagues - Aug 23, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      “may” being the operative word.

      Of course his BAbip was .316 (almost exactly his career average) last year when he sported a 4.43 ERA and 1.349 WHIP and a below average ERA+.

      If I dug deeper, I’m sure I could glean some more definitive reasons why he has performed as a slightly above average SP – but I’m pretty sure it generally has to do with allowing too many BB’s and too many hits for a guy who w/ a career 9.2 K/9.

      Maybe it changes in the future, but Scherzer is not as good as Dickey. Accept it.

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