December 11, 2018

All Hail Max Scherzer, the Clear-Cut Best Pitcher in Baseball

August 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Although star baseball players are covered endlessly in social media and the press, it is possible that the greatest of the great are occasionally not given their full due. Pitcher Max Scherzer seems to be in that category. Recognized as one of the best pitchers in baseball, the truth at this time is that he IS the best pitcher in baseball and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw is most often anointed the best hurler in the game. The southpaw is a worthy choice, but while he has pitched brilliantly around lingering injuries over the past several years, Scherzer has been a dominant workhorse since the 2013 season.

In his last five full seasons (Detroit Tigers 2013-14 and Washington Nationals 2015-present), Scherzer has gone 89-33 with a 2.87 ERA and 1,320 strikeouts. He has finished in the top-five in Cy Young voting each year and has taken home three trophies. Overall, he is at 155-80 with a 3.22 ERA in his 11-year major league career.

A first-round draft choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, it was originally thought he might have his future in the bullpen because of an arm motion that worried some about potential injury over long-term use. However, he is as durable as they come and the right hander has long since proven any detractors wrong. With an arsenal that includes a hearty fastball, a slider and changeup he is currently leading the National league in strikeouts for a third consecutive year.

What makes this all the more impressive is that Scherzer seems better than ever this year at the age of 33. He currently leads the league in wins (14), strikeouts (200) and has a 2.30 ERA. He has his lowest home run rate in four years (0.9) and is striking out more than a third of the batters he has faced (34.4%).

Barring injury or a drastically unforeseen change in performance, Scherzer seems like a good bet to win his third consecutive Cy Young award this year, and at worst finish in the top-5 for a sixth straight year. Only Kershaw with seven straight top-five finishes (and looking unlikely for an eighth in 2018) has had a better run in history when it comes to the award voting.

Scherzer seems to continuously stack up accomplishments like cordwood. In addition to his stellar production this season, he has also recently thrown the second immaculate inning of his career; just the fifth pitcher in history to accomplish the feat. A fair hitter for a pitcher, he even stroked a game-winning extra innings pinch hit to beat the Atlanta Braves earlier this season.

In the baseball of today pitchers at the dominant level of a Scherzer are few and far between. Injuries and high-octane offenses make them a dying breed. With cursory apologies to the small number of aces currently in the game, he is the clear leader of the pack, who instead of slowing down, is actually showing he may have other gears he has not yet reached. Give the man his due and sit back and see what else he can do before he eventually retires from the game that he is making such a huge impact on.

Andrew Martin is the founder of “The Baseball Historian” blog where he posts his thoughts about baseball on a regular basis. You can also reach him on Twitter at @historianandrew or on Facebook.

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