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Adam Wainwright continues to be ridiculously good

May 26, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 8.07.29 AM AP

Adam Wainwright was outstanding yet again last night, notching 12 strikeouts while pitching eight shutout innings. He allowed just five hits and a walk. All five hits were singles.

Wainwright is now 8-2 on the season with a 1.67 ERA and 77 strikeouts to 16 walks in 81 innings. He turns 33 in August and simply looks better than he ever has. Which is saying a lot given that he has been so fantastic for so long.

I was about to say that he was the clear favorite to be the NL Cy Young Award winner so far — and he may be — but to get there I took a gander at the NL pitching leaders and it’s hard to get one’s mind around how many great years dudes are having. Between Wainwright, Samardzija, Greinke, Cueto, Teheran, Tim Hudson, Wily Peralta and many more, it’s been almost silly. Wainwright may be the best pitcher among them so maybe he’s the favorite among them all to make his great first two months carry over for the rest of the season.

But I gotta be honest and say that, selfishly, I want to see Jeff Samardzija dominate and continue to get no run support so that he’s 0-14 but leads the NL in almost every pitching category so as to set up a final apocalyptic showdown between the folks that like pitcher wins and the folks who don’t. It would make Trout/Cabrera look like tiddlywinks.

  1. nottinghamforest13 - May 26, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    And yet Keith Law continues in his refusal to acknowledge any of Wainwright’s accomplishments.

    • proudlycanadian - May 26, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      I refuse to acknowledge Keith Law.

      • sportsfan18 - May 26, 2014 at 9:40 AM

        Except you just did by mentioning him.

      • proudlycanadian - May 26, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        Drat!

    • paperlions - May 26, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Man, can’t even get your whining right. It was Carpenter that he left off the ballot not Wainwright….and there is really no argument that anyone other than Lincecum should have won that year.

      • cohnjusack - May 26, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Here’s my opinion on Keith Law’s ballot

        1. I disagree with the decision to leave off Carpenter
        2. So what? I disagree with a lot of people’s ballots. I don’t go around whining about it 5 years later.

        Lincecum: Slightly fewer innings, lower ERA, more K’s far few hits, far fewer home runs…but we’re all still mad that it didn’t go to Wainwright?

      • paperlions - May 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        If you objectively look at pitchers in the NL that year, there were a LOT of really good performances. Lincecum, Wainwright, Carpenter, Vasquez, Haren, Jimenez (should get bonus pts for Coors), Josh Johnson….all of those guys were close in performance and an argument could be made for any of them to be among the top 3. The narrative that develops about who people think will win is what skews views of ballots….that isn’t the fault of ballots that ignore the momentum of MSM narratives.

  2. yarguy - May 26, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    If speculation turns out to be true Samardzija might be more likely to win the AL Cy Young than the NL CY.

    • cincinata - May 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      I am sure Smardzija is hoping to go anywhere else.

  3. cincinata - May 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Who is keith Law? And who cares. We were wanting a Cueto Wainwright matchup for yesterday, but it could not be. We are sure that if anyone can beat him, Cueto can. If the Reds can’t beat this guy, it will be very difficult for them to beat out St. Lou. Very tired of watching him chew the Reds up.

  4. creek0512 - May 26, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Is that really the best picture of Waino you guys could get?

    • paperlions - May 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Obviously, that is the secret to his power arm….so, probably, yeah.

  5. paperlions - May 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    So….remember those discussions about which deal was better:

    Wainwright: 5 years for $97.5M (starting this year, $19.5M/year for age 32-36 seasons, turns 37 at end of last season)

    Verlander: 5 year extension for $140M (doesn’t start until 2015, $28M/year for ages 32-36 seasons)

    People were arguing that it was reasonable to expect Verlander to be about 50% better than Wainwright so the Verlander deal might be better, despite being signed 2 years before he would be a FA. At this point, Verlander has quite a bit of work to do just to show he’s still as good as Wainwright.

  6. gibbyfan - May 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    I questioned the wisdom of signing Waino to five years but right now it’s looking like just another case of Mo’s genius. It may even prove to be right up there with the Molina signing.

    • gloccamorra - May 26, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Don’t ascribe genius to what is nothing more than good luck. All signings like that are gambles: sometimes you win the jackpot, sometimes the croupier takes all your money. It’s safer than Russian Roulette, and it’s not Mo’s money, so he’s got that going for him.

      • gibbyfan - May 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        When dealing with signing professional athletes to guaranteed long term deals there will always be a significant element of risk. However, in a higly competitive environment, when an organiztion continues to have a record of a very high percentage of productive signings relative others, I think we have to give a little credit to something more than just the luck of the draw.
        As far as it not being Mo’s money, I think that is entirely irrelevant for at least two reasons: He is in the same position as his peers, in fact his peers often have much more to spend than he: and while it may not be ‘his money’ it’s his livlihood that is at stake.

      • paperlions - May 26, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        They aren’t gambles so much as making decisions based on risk assessment….yeah, that is kind of semantical, but hear me out. Teams have a LOT of information on their own players. They know a LOT more than we do about their injury histories, their work ethics, their athleticism, their abilities, and so on. Consequently, they can use that information as well as the likelihood that such a player will be worth a certain contract to make decisions. Yes, there is always risk involved….there is risk involved in NOT signing a player as well, as any error in decision can result in a suboptimal result. Mo has done well, in general, in his decision making.

        The Wainwright and Molina deals look good so far. The Holliday deal has been a HUGE bargain. Letting Pujols go was a good decision. Not extending Freese and then trading him was a good decision. Signing Beltran to 2 years and then letting him go was brilliance. Extending Craig and Carpenter were low risk decisions, Carpenter has been okay (some regression was expected), Craig has not been okay.

        So far, they haven’t signed a single long-term deal that didn’t work out…and they haven’t cost themselves money or performance on decisions on young players. That is likely to change as they try to navigate the mine field associated with Wong, Adams, Taveras, Martinez, Miller, Lynn, Kelly, Wacha, and the guys coming up behind them….it’ll be almost impossible to make good decisions all around with that group.

      • cincinata - May 26, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        I don’t think you are correct sir. Look at the Mets. They throw at players who don’t produce what is expected and then let them go and start all over again. It is a question of management. If it is not his money, then he certainly is in charge of it. And, if it doesn’t turn out well for the team, he will be out of a job. We have had a good experience in Cinti with Walt Jockety. Before he came, the GM’s threw all kinds of money at the problem here, and didn’t work out. Walt took control and managed very well to bring the team to respectability. Even though they are going through a injury problem just now, by the end of the year, they will be able to compete (we hope). I don’t know Mo at all, but he seems to be an excellent MANAGER!

      • okwhitefalcon - May 26, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        Speaking of “what’s coming up behind them” pitching wise – Joe Strauss has a piece with great quotes from Mo on the gap between what’s in STL now and what they have in the minors.

        http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/joe-strauss/strauss-cards-can-t-rely-on-memphis-pitching-pipeline-as/article_b09e05f5-d845-5f16-ae07-cf259c912c1b.html

        There’s not much available that could help this year so they’re likely playing the pitching hand they’ve got now or will deal from outfield depth to augment if necessary.

        With the news of Kelly being out until at least late June or July and the uncertainty of Kevin Siegrest’s injury, depth at the big league level and/or the ability to make a deal will be key.

  7. metalhead65 - May 26, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    his games against the Reds should not count, they have made lots of pitchers look like cy young award winners this year. if the reds could get a base hit with risp Cueto would have won 10 games by now. is there a saber category on failure to score with runners at the corners with nobody out? or a runner on third with 1 out? I think the reds would lead the majors if there were.

    • cincinata - May 26, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      Metal:
      It is a long season. Wait for Bruce to get his swing back. The Pen is doing much better now, and Votto will soon be back. This team will produce, and the pitchers will pitch well, as they have been. As vaulted as the birds staff is, the Reds are equal. Look at the stats. When Latos comes back next week, you may see some changes in wins and losses.

  8. ud1951 - May 26, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Wainwright ends up 22-5 and second in all those pitching categories to Samardzija who is 0-14, Wainwright will win the Cy Young. And all the sabermetrics guys will wet themselves.

    There is something to be said for a guy who pitches for a team that wins 25 of his 33 starts while the other pitchers on the same team see the team only win half the games they pitch in. It is one of the intangibles that the sabermetrics folks have not figured out how to measure so they call in random and meaningless. The Cards are 9-2 in Waino starts and 19-19 when someone else starts this year so far.

    There probably is some reason the best pitcher on the Cubs has a worse team won loss record (1-9) than Edwin Jackson (3-7), we just haven’t figured out how to explain it with established measures. Why would a team like the Cubs score 39 runs in Jackson’s starts and only 20 in Samardzija’s? And how can the Cubs score 12 runs off Wainwright in 3 starts when the rest of the league scores 3 runs in his other 8 starts?

    If the Cy Young rewards the guy who gives his team the best chance to win when he’s pitching, one of the measures of that should be how many of his starts they actually win, not the only measure, but one of them.

    • cohnjusack - May 26, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      There is something to be said for a guy who pitches for a team that wins 25 of his 33 starts while the other pitchers on the same team see the team only win half the games they pitch in. It is one of the intangibles that the sabermetrics folks have not figured out how to measure so they call in random and meaningless.

      Yeah, like these guys
      Pitcher A: 23-8, 2.26 ERA, 267 IP, 178 K, 73 BB, 18 HR
      Pitcher B: 15-15, 2.31 ERA, 256 IP, 178 K, 77 BB, 9 HR

      I mean, pitcher A clearly had the “intangibles” and pitcher B did not, which is why, despite all their other number being similiar, pitcher A just knew how to win.

      Now, why do you think it is that Orel Hershiser (pitcher A) had the intangibles, yet Orel Herhiser(player B) didn’t?

    • cohnjusack - May 26, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Why would a team like the Cubs score 39 runs in Jackson’s starts and only 20 in Samardzija’s?

      Probably because they know Samardzija doesn’t know how to win, so they don’t bother putting forth all that effort to score runs.

      Actually, why do you think that is? Because I’m certain your explanation will be hilarious.

      • derklempner - May 26, 2014 at 9:23 PM

        …Samardzija doesn’t know how to win…

        I thought it was because he didn’t have TWTW.

      • simalex - May 27, 2014 at 12:19 AM

        not enough #grit

      • ud1951 - May 27, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        I don’t know, but just because we don’t know does not render it either random or meaningless. I think the answer lies in an intangible similar to leadership in the military. It is hard, if not impossible, to quantify but is more often than not, decisive.

        The sum of an endeavor can become either greater than the sum of the parts or less, based on leadership. Almost every measure of leadership I have read includes an ample list of impressive achievements in situations that with other people in the lead and similar circumstances were not accomplished.

        This is not a knock on Samardzija, who has been terrific this year, but an acknowledgment that when Wainwright pitches, the Cardinals, who are mostly ordinary when other (very good) pitchers pitch, become something more than ordinary. And that’s not meaningless.

        And seemingly so far, when Samardzija pitches, an fairly ordinary Cubs team becomes something less than ordinary. They are 9 games under .500 when he pitches, 2 games under .500 when everyone else pitches. And I submit that, too, is not meaningless.

        The Cubs relief pitching is statistically slightly better than the Cardinals, the two teams have scored roughly the same number of runs so far this season, and they have played mostly the same opponents and the Cubs are 5-4 in games against the Cardinals. The one thing that is different is that St Louis has won 7 more games than it lost with Wainwright pitching and is 7 over .500. The Cubs have lost 8 more games than it won with Samardzija pitching and is 10 under .500.

        If those trends continued over both pitchers’ 33 or 34 starts, how could you not see some meaning in that? If the Cardinals ended up 22 games over .500 and in the playoffs with the team winning 22 more Wainwright games than they lost, and the Cubs ended up 22 games under .500, losing 22 more Samardzija games than they won, despite both producing nearly identical sabermetric measures of pitching excellence, and assuming no other pitchers were close, how would you decide the winner of the Cy Young award? Is the fact that both teams are equal when these guys were not pitching, but vastly different when they do, meaningless?

      • cohnjusack - May 27, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        I don’t know, but just because we don’t know does not render it either random or meaningless.

        Umm, yes it does, because it is random. How can we tell? By looking at pitchers throughout history. There is variation in run support for everybody. Furthermore, basic common sense should tell you that who is on the mound should have very little influence over their team’s offense.

        Want an example?
        Pitcher A: 8-16, 2.76 ERA (lead league) team scored 3.35 runs per game
        Pitcher B: 11-6 4.62 ERA: team scored team scored 4.46 runs per game

        Same team, same year. So, you’re saying that Pitcher B has better “intangibles” than pitcher A?

        Because pitcher B is Jim Deshies.
        …and pitcher A is Nolan Ryan.

        Seems pretty random to me.

      • ud1951 - May 27, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        I submit that random does not equal meaningless. What appears random may not yet be explained by data that has not been collected or understood. Science has found meaning in thousands of areas where the outcome was thought random, only to find there were factors that predict the outcome.

        But you did not answer the question in my example, who deserves the hardware? Baseball is watched and awards are given by humans, who are capable at looking at data and at random outcomes and then making a judgement as to the winner. The awards are majority opinions based on a variety of factors, I am interested in how you would choose the winner in this hypothetical case.

    • simalex - May 27, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      I have yet to meet a “sabermetrics guy” who calls randomness “meaningless.” Trying to understand and account for randomness is one of the philosophical underpinnings this type of analysis in the first place.

      Anyway.

    • Reflex - May 27, 2014 at 2:10 AM

      Well that was the dumbest post of the day…

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