Stat Speak: Weaver off to impressive start

Stat Speak: Weaver off to impressive start

The 2010 season witnessed nine pitchers (who qualified for the ERA title) put together campaigns in which they struck out at least nine batters per nine innings AND allowed less than one home run per inning.

Angels right-hander Jered Weaver led the group in innings, fanning 9.35 batters per nine innings and allowing 0.92 HR/9 over 224.1 innings.

The group of nine in 2010 represented the highest total ever produced in a single season. Granted, baseball's expansion has produced an entity that now has nearly twice as many teams in 2010 (30) than there were in 1960 (16), but still, this particular bit of minutiae does seem to fit squarely inside the idea that this represented a year of the pitcher.

Represented another way, there were 92 pitchers in 2010 who qualified for the ERA title, so the group of nine pitchers referenced above stands for 9.8 percent of all qualifying starters. In 1968, when pitchers suppressed runs at a rate not seen since 1908, 76 pitchers qualified for the ERA title, while two (Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell), or 2.6 percent, allowed less than a homer per nine innings and struck out at least nine batters per nine.

The disparity in percentages lies squarely in the increase in strikeouts. In 1968, 74 of the 76 pitchers who qualified for the ERA title allowed less than a home run per nine innings, but only McDowell and Tiant (regardless of home runs per nine) averaged nine whiffs per nine innings. A different offensive approach dominates the game today, and nine pitchers in 2010 notably eliminated one of the three possibilities from the "three true outcomes" (walk, strikeout or home run) landscape.

In 2010, when there were more strikeouts per game than any other season in history, Weaver led the Majors in whiffs -- the first Angels pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1977 to lead the big leagues in this category and only the third different Halos hurler to do it.

Some other interesting factoids surrounding Weaver's season:

• His 233 strikeouts were the most by an Angels pitcher since Ryan struck out 260 in 1978.

• Weaver had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.33; he became only the second pitcher in Angels history to average four K's for every walk and qualify for the ERA title. Weaver's teammate Ervin Santana did it in 2008. Weaver and Santana are two of just 34 pitchers in American League history to have a K:BB ratio of at least four and also have at least 200 strikeouts. Twenty-four of those 34 seasons have taken place since 1995.

• In 2010, Weaver had 10 outings in which he went at least seven innings and allowed no more than one run. The total tied Weaver with four other AL pitchers for the third-most in the league; Felix Hernandez had 15 to lead the American League, while Cliff Lee, with 11, had the second-most. The 10 such outings were the most by an Angels pitcher since Kelvin Escobar had 11 in 2007.

Weaver just concluded his age-27 season. He has made 144 starts, is 64-39 (.621 winning percentage), and owns career marks of 7.82 K's/9 and 2.53 BB/9.

PItchers through Age 27 with 100 career starts, more than seven K/9 and less than three BB/9
Player Years W-L ERA+
Pedro Martinez 1992-1999 107-50 156
Roger Clemens 1984-1990 116-51 147
Johan Santana 2000-2006 78-31 144
Tom Seaver 1967-1972 116-66 143
Roy Oswalt 2001-2005 83-39 142
Rube Waddell 1901-1904 84-58 141
Felix Hernandez 2005-2010 71-53 133
Bert Blyleven 1970-1978 136-123 133
Luis Tiant 1964-1968 66-44 127
Fergie Jenkins 1965-1970 91-68 125
Steve Carlton 1965-1972 104-72 124
Jered Weaver 2006-2010 64-39 124
List sorted by ERA+
Since 1901, 29 pitchers fit the following criteria: through age-27 season, at least 100 starts, more than seven strikeouts per nine innings and less than three walks per nine innings. Sorted by ERA+, Weaver is tied for 11th among this group of 29. ERA+ relates a pitcher's ERA to the league ERA, then normalizes the total to reflect playing conditions. By definition, the league-average ERA+ is 100.

Pedro Martinez posted the finest score in the group of starters who fit the aforementioned criteria, with a 156 ERA+. Weaver is tied with Steve Carlton for 11th place; both posted ERA+ scores of 124, though Carlton's record, 104-72, trumps Weaver's record of 64-39. It is a notable list of starters, including Roger Clemens (second on the list with a 147 ERA+), Johan Santana (third, 144 ERA+), Hernandez (seventh, 133 ERA+), and Ferguson Jenkins (10th, 125 ERA+).

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Angels' outfielder Bobby Abreu (131 career OPS+) just completed his 15th Major League season. In 2010, he had his lowest batting average, on-base percentage and OPS since he was a 23-year-old playing for the Astros in 1997. Abreu, who will be 37 on March 11, 2011, owns these career counting numbers: 1,358 runs, 1265 RBIs, 1341 walks. If he can score 142 more runs, collect 235 more RBI, and draw 159 more walks, he will join a club that currently is populated by 10 players and is headlined by Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds.

Abreu also needs 24 home runs to become the eighth member of the 300 home run, 300 steal club (he has 372 stolen bases). Abreu, who had 30-30 seasons in 2001 and 2004, is one of 11 players to have multiple years with 30 steals and 30 homers.

Roger Schlueter is a senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.