Feb 7, 2013, 4:01 PM EDT
If you had to bet big on a pitcher for the next seven years, Felix Hernandez seems as good a choice as any. He hasn’t been in Justin Verlander‘s league these last two years, but he also hasn’t been extended to 270 innings per year like Verlander has. And while I think I’d choose Clayton Kershaw over anyone, I do feel a little bit safer trusting someone with Hernandez’s thick build over the slighter left-hander. I think Kershaw is the better bet to contend for Cy Young awards deep into the decade, but Hernandez is the more likely of the two to still be throwing 220-230 excellent innings per season.
Still, it’s all just a guess. Pitching is inherently risky. Unlikely candidates have survived the rigors and won 200 games, and some who look like they’ll last forever are gone in an instant.
Since the expansion era started in 1961, Hernandez, with 32 WAR, is one of a dozen pitchers to have racked up at least 28 WAR through age 26 (using the Baseball-Reference version). Here are the other 11, their WARs through age 26 and their totals from age 27 onward.
Bert Blyleven – 47 WAR – 165-137, 3.71 ERA, 109 ERA+, 44 WAR
Tom Seaver – 35 WAR – 216-151, 3.07 ERA, 121 ERA+, 66 WAR
Dwight Gooden – 35 WAR – 62-59, 4.45 ERA, 99 ERA+, 11 WAR
Roger Clemens – 34 WAR – 259-139, 3.15 ERA, 144 ERA+, 99 WAR
Bret Saberhagen – 34 WAR – 70-47, 3.49 ERA, 124 ERA+. 22 WAR
Frank Tanana – 33 WAR – 138-158, 4.03 ERA, 100 ERA+, 20 WAR
Dave Stieb – 32 WAR – 95-70, 3.57 ERA, 116 ERA+. 22 WAR
Fernando Valenzuela – 30 WAR – 60-71, 4.29 ERA, 90 ERA+, 4 WAR
Pedro Martinez – 29 WAR – 135-54, 2.89 ERA, 160 ERA+, 53 WAR
Dennis Eckersley – 29 WAR – 99-99, 3.59 ERA, 114 ERA+, 30 WAR
Kevin Appier – 29 WAR – 109-93, 4.16 ERA, 112 ERA+, 23 WAR
Of the 11 best young starters in the last 50 years, just three accomplished more from age 27 onward than they did through age 26. There are three Hall of Famers on the list in Blyleven, Seaver and Eckersley and two more guys with Hall of Fame numbers in Clemens and Martinez. None of the other six came anywhere close to getting elected.
My feeling is that the Mariners should have waited on a Hernandez extension. He was under control for two more years at a total of $39.5 million. In essence, today’s seven-year, $175 million contract is really a five-year, $135.5 million extension. In guaranteeing Hernandez $27.1 million per year for those five years, the Mariners are giving him 10 percent more than any pitcher has ever gotten in a long-term contract. CC Sabathia‘s Yankees renegotiated deal, Cole Hamels‘ Phillies extension and Zack Greinke‘s free agent deal with the Dodgers were all for $24.4 million-$24.5 million per year. The Mariners weren’t getting any kind of discount here and thus should have revisited extension talks next winter.
On the other hand, it’s not really all that outrageous of a contract. Had Hernandez been a free agent this winter, he surely would have gotten $200 million on the open market. There’s also something to be said for a move like this reassuring the fanbase. The semi-annual “should Felix go” columns are out the window now, and eager Yankees and Red Sox fans will have to turn their attention elsewhere in search of prey. Salaries are likely to keep going up, so if Felix stays healthy, there’s a good chance he’ll be worth the money. The Mariners’ future through 2019 now hinges on it.
Oct 22, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
Paul Molitor remains the frontrunner.
Oct 22, 2014, 7:53 AM EDT
Not living up to a nickname: forgivable. Not giving your team a chance to win in the World Series: a way bigger problem.
Oct 22, 2014, 6:23 AM EDT
And to fight history: 15 of the last 17 Game 1 winners have gone on to win the World Series.
Oct 22, 2014, 12:58 AM EDT
It’s up to the rookie in Wednesday’s Game 2.
Oct 21, 2014, 11:41 PM EDT
The 2014 Royals have finally dropped a postseason game. And it was an ugly one for the home team.
Oct 21, 2014, 11:06 PM EDT
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was working on a shutout in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium until Royals catcher Salvador Perez slugged a two-out solo shot over the left field fence.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:49 PM EDT
Royals manager Ned Yost has gone to the bullpen early in Game 1 of the World Series, lifting starter James Shields after he allowed an RBI single to Giants designated hitter Michael Morse in the top of the fourth inning.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
The Giants exploded for three runs in the top of the first inning on singles by Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey, a double by Pablo Sandoval, and a Hunter Pence two-run homer to center field.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted this picture on his Facebook page this evening with a caption that reads “Gearing up to watch my hometown Giants in the World Series.”
Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
Here’s a Royals pump-up video that MLB Advanced Media put together featuring the music of Motley Crue …
Oct 21, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT
From Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca comes word that left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski has officially agreed to a contract with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Oct 21, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Williams has pitched for seven different MLB teams in nine seasons, posting a combined 4.40 ERA in 891 career innings.
Oct 21, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
That’s the same alignment the Royals used in the ALCS, when they swept the Orioles in four games.
Oct 21, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT
Madison Bumgarner vs. James Shields.
Oct 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Joe Posnanski looks at where they came from and just how dominant they’ve been.
Oct 21, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Zimmer came into this season as a top-25 prospect according to Baseball America and MLB.com.
Oct 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Now they just need a site. If you have a few hundred acres in the Palm Beach area, call Mark Lerner.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
Mark Appel had a weird season, as the former No. 1 overall pick was awful at Single-A with a 9.74 ERA in 12 starts and then made headlines over the weird quasi-controversy of him throwing a bullpen session in Houston.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
So drunk that today’s editorial says that the taxpayer subsidies to renovate the place several years ago are all worth it. Um, yeah.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
He replaces rookie Christian Colon.
- What’s in a name? “Big Game” James did not come up big for Kansas City 6
- World Series Reset: The Royals look to pick themselves up off the mat 1
- Royals’ World Series hopes in Yordano Ventura’s hands 3
- Giants stomp Royals 7-1 in World Series Game 1 rout 31
- World Series, Game 1: Giants vs. Royals lineups 0
- HBT Daily: In which I waffle on my World Series pick 13
- Must-click link: surviving spring training on $0 a day 79
- Your Official HardballTalk World Series Preview 28
- So, if you’re not a fan of the Royals or Giants, who ya got? (120)
- Erroneous Narrative Alert: no, the Giants are not a “gritty,” anti-stats organization (116)
- Pedro Martinez has some opinions about who the new “face of baseball” is (111)
- “The Kansas City Royals Are the Future of Baseball” — someone actually said that. (93)
- Travis Ishikawa sends Giants to World Series on walk-off three-run homer (79)