Saturday, June 01, 2013

Cardinals' home grown pitchers are phenomenal

A lot of research would be needed to find another team with so much home-grown young pitchers performing as well as the young pitchers of the St. Louis Cardinals in the long history of the game. With an average age of 23.8 years old, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Tyler Lyons, John Gast and now Michael Wacha have gone a combined 16-4 with a 2.54 ERA. And that is just the starting pitchers and does not include Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness, two more home grown pitchers who are also performing well in the bullpen. The startling thing about all these pitchers is that they were all drafted by the Cardinals.

Let's look at the list again:
  • Lance Lynn: Drafted by the Cardinals in the first round in 2008
  • Shelby Miller: Drafted by the Cardinals in the first round in 2009
  • Tylor Lyons: Drafted by the Cardinals in the tenth round in 2010
  • John Gast: Drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round in 2010
  • Michael Wacha: Drafted by the Cardinals in the first round in 2012
  • Seth Maness: Drafted by the Cardinals in the eleventh round in 2011
  • Trevor Rosenthal: Drafted by the Cardinals in the twenty-first round in 2009
Again, this seems unprecedented and remarkable. How could so many pitchers be drafted by the same team in a five year span and all be making a positive impact on the Major League staff? It is remarkable.

 Let's focus on just the starters from here on out. Here are their collective numbers of the starters in the above list:
  • Starts: 27
  • Record: 16-4
  • Winning percentage: .800
  • ERA: 2.54
  • K/9: 8.71
  • K/BB: 3.29
  • HR/9: 0.49
  • WHIP: 0.998
Amazing. And this is not really a fluke. I did a little research on first year starters going back to 2009. Here are the collective stats I found concerning all those pitchers:
  • 2010 - Winning percentage: .438, ERA: 4.55, K/BB: 1.90, WHIP: 1.429
  • 2011 - Winning percentage: .386, ERA: 4.63, K/BB: 1.86, WHIP: 1.427
  • 2012 - Winning percentage: .461, ERA: 4.36, K/BB: 2.32, WHIP: 1.355
  • 2013 - Winning percentage: .461, ERA: 5.12, K/BB: 2.16, WHIP: 1.456
And that includes some pseudo-rookies like Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and other imports. Now the following is those same numbers collectively of all Cardinal starters in their first year starts since 2011:
  • Baby Cards: Winning percentage: .579, ERA: 3.17, K/BB: 2.64, WHIP: 1.201
Have I made your jaw drop yet? Somehow, the Cardinals have managed to draft pitchers since 2008, spin them through their system and spit them out to the Major Leagues and have them perform far better than all the other teams combined doing the same thing. Whether this is great scouting, great drafting, great coaching, great luck, or the combination of all the above, the Cardinals are beating the odds and they are beating them handily.

I think back over the past thirty years and all the great young staffs. The 1990s Braves got Greg Maddux from the Cubs. Last year's Oakland A's compiled their arms from other teams. Perhaps the early 2000's A's with Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito come to mind.

But I can tell you that after watching baseball for fifty years, what is going on with these young home grown Cardinals does not happen often and is remarkable that it is happening at all. Such a progression from draft to minors to the majors for the St. Louis franchise has been incredibly fun to watch.

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