Adam Wainwright has been perhaps the most consistent bright spot for a Cardinals team that has had plenty of ups and downs already in 2014.
He has also been one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting (according to Fangraphs) a National League best 2.5 WAR to this point of the season.
But are we making more of his start to this year than we did in 2013, when they might be almost identical?
It would make sense, wouldn’t it? He not only had (statistically) the best regular season single start of his career, but he has also been the “stopper” in plenty of games for a Cardinals team that has not lived up to the almost universal expectations before the season began.
So what are the numbers to this point in the season, compared to last season?
It might surprise you that not only are they nearly identical, but last year’s first 13 starts were a tick better for the Cardinals ace.
THRU 13 GAMES STARTED:
- 2014: 8-3
- 2013: 9-3
- 2014: 2.31 ERA
- 2013: 2.34 ERA
- 2014: 93.1 IP
- 2013: 96 IP
- 2014: 89 K (8.58/9IP)
- 2013 K: 91 (8.53/9IP)
- 2014: 19BB (1.83/9IP)
- 2013: 7BB (0.66/9IP)
- 2014: 117 Ground Balls/132 Fly Balls
- 2013: 140 Ground Balls/132 Fly Balls
- 2014: 14.3 pitches/inning
- 2013: 14.01 pitches/inning
It should also be noted that Wainwright’s BABIP (the batting average of all balls hit that are not foul or home runs – how many balls hit into play fall for hits) is historically low.
This year, Wainwright’s BABIP is .249, compared to .305 last year and .292 over the course of his career. Be careful to discount BABIP, league average is around .300, and it appears Wainwright has benefitted to some luck to this point of the season.
It would be perfectly reasonable to expect that to regress to the mean. Does that mean that Wainwright hasn’t been brilliant for most of this year?
He has been fantastic, and as advertised.
If he’s been one of the bright spot of an otherwise un-remarkable year, it would be only natural for fans and media to magnify what he has done. Some of the starts might even SEEM bigger, and the performances may very well be more important for a team that needs him every time he goes out.
Let’s hope that Wainwright continues his exceptional 2014, just as he did in 2013, and the rest of his Cardinals teammates are the ones regressing to the mean.