Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve taken a look at each of Buster Olney’s positional and team rankings (most recently the lineup and defense), after a great number of Cubs ranked quite nicely.
But, as the title implies, we’re here today to discuss the starting pitcher rankings, which come with a fairly surprising twist:
According to the accompanying article, the rankings (as composed by Petriello) were “compiled with a combination of subjective and analytical data, and pitcher wins never matter.” However, in addition to the rankings as seen below, Petriello also included the “Shredder” rankings, which are of the purely statistical persuasion.
There is something to note about those Shredder rankings later, but first, let’s examine the list, because Kyle Hendricks is one of the best pitchers in baseball, baby:
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
- Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
- Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
- Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
- Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
- Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
- Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants
- Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs
Just Missed: David Price (Red Sox), Rick Porcello (Red Sox), Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees), Jose Quintana (White Sox), Jake Arrieta (Cubs), Jon Lester (Cubs), Rich Hill (Dodgers), Chris Archer (Rays), Cole Hamels (Rangers), Stephen Starburg (Nationals), Aaron Sanchez (Blue Jays)
By now, I think we can pretty much all agree that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game and that Max Scherzer is the second best pitcher, albeit one in a slightly lower tier than Kershaw. After that, I think that numbers 3-6 as they’re ranked above (Noah Syndergaard, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and Madison Bumgarner) are all roughly within the same tier as the group after those first two. [Brett: I’d probably have Scherzer down together with that group, but Michael’s comments are fair, as are Petriello’s rankings.]
Beyond that, there are probably 10-15 pitchers that could arguably find themselves in one of the top spots, given the ranker’s preference.
But today, and according to Petriello, Kyle Hendricks is one of those pitchers. In fact, he just makes the cut as the only Chicago Cub – Petriello twice notes that ranking the Cubs pitchers wasn’t easy:
“Where to place Hendricks or any other Cubs starter was difficult, given how much we know they were all helped by a historically good Chicago defense. Hendricks’ strikeout and walk ratios were nearly identical to what they were in 2015, yet he managed to cut his ERA from 3.95 to an MLB-best 2.13.”
The Cubs defense doesn’t get all the credit, though, because Petriello later admits that Hendricks’ ability to actually induce weak contact proves that he’s among the game’s elite.
But then, what about those other guys? You know, the 2015 NL Cy Young award winning Jake Arrieta, or the four-time All-Star, three-time top 5 Cy Young finalist, three-time World Series Champion, and second-best-ERA-in-MLB Jon Lester?
Well, they may not have cracked the top ten on Petriello’s list, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in for a little bit of love.
Remember those Shredder rankings we discussed? Well, using a purely statistical approach, both Jake Arrieta (#4) and Jon Lester (#5) don’t just crack the top ten, they crack the top five. In fact, by this method, Kyle Hendricks misses the top ten altogether.
But instead of weighting one of those methods greater than the other, let’s just land on something like this: by a combination of statistical and subjective measures, the Chicago Cubs boast three of the game’s top starters: Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta.