April Achievers – Pitchers Edition

With one month in the books, here’s a look at some of the noteworthy pitching performances for this April.

Before injury led to an abbreviated outing on the last day of the month, Noah Syndergaard had four starts with 6+ IP and nary a walk or home run allowed. That ties him with Adam Wainwright in 2013 for the longest such streak to begin a season.

James Paxton started and went 6 IP or more in his first three outings, allowing no runs and fewer than 5 hits in each. The last pitcher with that start to his season was more than 100 years ago, when Ray Caldwell began the 1914 campaign with three shutouts (one was rain-shortened), each with three hits allowed. Paxton hit a bump in his fourth start, but then added another 6 IP/0 R/4 H performance in his next outing to become the first searchable pitcher to begin a season with 4 out of 5 such starts.

Similar to Paxton, Ervin Santana had 5 April starts of 6+ IP, all with no more than one run and four hits allowed, to become the first searchable pitcher with that start to a season. Santana’s 0.657 WHIP is the lowest April mark since World War II, among pitchers with SO/BB under 3.0 in 30+ IP.

Jeremy Hellickson posted an .800 April WHIP, an achievement made more remarkable for having also posted 3.3 SO/9, less than half the 7.3 level he’s averaged over the last four seasons. Danny Darwin, with a .775 mark in 1985, is the last pitcher to post a lower April WHIP with SO/9 under 3.5 in 25+ IP.

In contrast to Hellickson, Jason Vargas of the Royals led AL starters with 14.0 April SO/BB after starting the year with 9.8 SO/9, almost four whiffs more per 9 innings than his 5.9 career mark heading into this campaign. Since some gutty performances in the 2014 post-season, Vargas hardly pitched the last two seasons, so his comeback this year has already bucked the odds. Indeed, of 59 starting pitchers with fewer than 60 IP aged 32-33, Vargas is just the eighth to pitch in an age 34 season. But, five of those posted a qualified campaign and three of the five (Chris Carpenter, Bret Saberhagen, Al Hollingsworth) had very creditable seasons, each beginning, like Vargas, with a hot start.

Chris Sale posted a losing record for April, despite a 1.19 ERA. That’s the lowest April ERA among live ball era AL pitchers with a losing record in 25+ IP;  only Fernando Valenzuela, with a 2-3 record and 0.21 ERA in 1985, has a lower mark in the NL (Valenzuela`s two wins were both shutouts, while his three losses were by scores of 2-1, 2-1 and 1-0, with only one earned run among the 5 tallies he allowed).

Danny Salazar and Carlos Martinez both recorded 12+ SO/9 and 4+ BB/9 in 25+ April IP, the first time a pair of pitchers have posted those totals to start a season. Only seven other hurlers have recorded those Ryan-esque April totals, including Nolan Ryan himself, the only pitcher to do so in two Aprils (in 1978 and 1989).

Jered Weaver, the 2016 AL leader for most HR allowed, is also getting knocked around in his first tour of the NL, giving up 10 April blasts. But, aside from the long ball, Weaver has been pretty good, with a very respectable 1.081 April WHIP, giving him a 2.90 ratio between HR/9 and WHIP, the highest ever in 25+ April IP. Weaver’s 40% of hits allowed going for homers is an April mark exceeded only by fellow Padre Ed Whitson, in 1987.

Among other veteran hurlers who are off their form to start this season, Adam Wainwright and Felix Hernandez top this year’s list for highest April BABIP allowed, with marks of .456 and .393 respectively. Each has also recorded 50% more hits allowed than batters whiffed.

Among relievers with 6+ IP and zero starts, Tommy Kahnle of the White Sox led the majors with 19.0 SO/9 in April. Kahnle, who had a career 5.5 BB/9 before this season, posted a 1.0 mark for April while whiffing 57.6% of the batters he faced, the latter mark exceeded only by his teammate David Roberston, in April 2015.

Speaking of Robertson, he struck out two batters in each of his first 5 appearances, all of one inning or less. That’s the longest such April streak to start a season (though Tom Gordon posted those totals in 6 May games to start his 2001 season, and Billy Wagner matched Robertson with 5 such games in a belated August beginning to his 2009 campaign).

Despite Kahnle’s and Robertson’s efforts, the 10.8 SO/9 result posted by the White Sox relief corps is just the second best mark this season, trailing Houston at 11.2. Those two teams also rank 1-2 in SO/9 in any April of 20+ relief innings, with the White Sox recording an 11.6 mark in 2010, and the Astros posting 11.5 in 1999.

Chase Whitley, despite a modest 1.75 SO/BB ratio, averaged 2+ IP in 5 April relief appearances and yielded nary a run. You have to go back to Ron Klimkowski in 1971 to find another AL pitcher with those April totals and a lower SO/BB ratio.

Which pitchers have caught your eye this season?

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55 Comments on "April Achievers – Pitchers Edition"

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Scary Tuna
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Santana had a great start on May 2nd to push his record to 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA. Today… 6 innings, 6 earned runs. The anticipated Santana-Sale match up ends 17-6.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Well, last night featured a record 48 combined Ks in the Yanks-Cubs game. Of course, that’s a lot likelier when a game goes 18 innings…

Mike L
Guest

Fun facts about that game: Castro, Headley, Gregorius, and Romine went a combined 0-30, with no walks, nine Ks. But Castro scored one run and drove in two, including the winner. Seven Yankees pitchers, all with at least 2Ks.

no statistician but
Guest
On May 1, 1920, roughly 97 year earlier, the famous Cadore-Oeschger game took place, a 26-inning dual complete game 1-1 tie. In that game, out of 186 PAs, there were 14 Ks, 9 BBs, and 163 balls put in play, 24 of them hits, 3 errors occurring. In last night’s contest, in the midst of multiple pitching maneuvers resulting in the appearance of 15 hurlers, 146 batters came to the plate, striking out 48 times, walking 15 times, and putting the ball in play 83 times with 21 hits and 2 errors. Time of the 1920 game: 3:50. Time of… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Two Cub pitchers (Wade Davis, Carl Edwards) pitched an inning and struck out each batter faced. Fifteenth such game, 14 of them since 2000, and 8 since 2014.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

The Yankees have a lot of successful pitchers in April… playing for other teams:

Chase Whitley
13 IP
0.615 WHIP
0.69 ERA

Nick Goody
9.1 IP
0.643 WHIP
0.00 ERA

Justin Wilson
13.2 IP
0.585 WHIP
1.32 ERA
14.5 K/9

James Pazos
14 IP
1.286 WHIP
12.2 K/9

Ivan Nova
42.0 IP
0.881 WHIP (leads the league)
2.14 ERA

Mike L
Guest

Voomo, I see no reason for you to rain on my Yankee parade today……I’m still getting over them trading Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, Rick Dempsey, and Scott McGregor…

no statistician but
Guest

Reminds me of the 1959 White Sox who won the pennant with John Romano, Earl Battey, Norm Cash, and Johnny Callison sitting on the bench, all to be traded over the winter. The four subsequently put up 13 All-Star seasons and around 130 WAR for other teams. An interesting topic might be this: Other than the Red Sox of the Harry Frazee era and the As of the KC era, what teams let go of the most budding talent?

Doug
Guest
I’m a bit startled with these results. I identified a group of 175 players with 45 career batting WAR and who played for at least two franchises. Of that group, only 26 played for two franchises within the first 5 seasons of their careers, so teams are pretty good at understanding when they’ve got a keeper. Of that group of 26, only one team had two of them and let both go in their first 5 seasons. That team was the 1996 Indians with Brian Giles in his second season and Jeff Kent in his fifth (before Kent had recorded… Read more »
David P
Guest

To be fair, Kent only logged 116 PAs with the Indians (at the end of his 5th season). And they didn’t really let him go in the sense that they traded him for Matt Williams.

On the other hand, when you start trading power hitting outfielders for middle relievers, you might want to rethink your career choice…

Doug
Guest
The Indians traded Kent with Julian Tavarez and Jose Vizcaino to get Williams (there were also two PTBNL in the deal, one on each side, who netted basically zero future WAR for the Indians and Giants). Then, after one season, Cleveland traded Williams for Travis Fryman (who gave the Indians two decent years in 1998 and 2000) and Tom Martin, a non-descript reliever. Fryman retired after 5 seasons and Martin pitched less than 60 innings in 3 seasons in Cleveland before being traded for a career minor-leaguer. So, here’s how that trade worked out for the Indians, WAR-wise. – 51.1… Read more »
David P
Guest

Obviously the Indians lost the “WAR battle” but keep in mind that Kent was a well-known malcontent and clubhouse cancer. There’s a reason why teams couldn’t wait to get rid of him. Here’s an article from his first season with the Mets.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/15/sports/baseball-mets-pull-a-little-prank-but-kent-pulls-a-big-fit.html

Amazing that so early in his career he had such a poor reputation.

For the Indians, Kent was simply a late-season pickup who they more than willing to part with once the season was over.

Richard Chester
Guest

The Philadelphia A’s traded Nelson Fox to the White Sox for Joe Tipton after the 1949 season.

MoP
Guest

There was a series here last year that I believe Doug put together addressing this question. The 1970 Cardinals were one such team.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

No raining here. I’m Bronx-born, and an unexpectedly ecstatic baseball fan at the moment.
I’ll take Betances and company over the above-listed castoffs.
And I didn’t even mention IPK or Mark Melancon.

David P
Guest

That Andrew Miller guy is doing okay as well.

Mike L
Guest

This might make a very fine post for an erudite HHS writer–maybe two pieces: Worst trades ever (high profile) and Worst Trades Ever (oh, boy, if only I had known)

Doug
Guest
Here’s a few: – Sammy Sosa (57.7 future WAR) for George Bell (-2.7) – Tommy John (62.2), Tommie Agee (26.0) and John Romano (4.9) for Rocky Colavito (5.7) and Cam Carreon (0.2) – Randy Johnson (102.5) for Mark Langston (32.3) – Pedro Martinez (82.9) for Delino DeShields (14.3) – Pedro Martinez (62.7) for Carl Pavano (17.0) and Tony Armas (8.3) – Kenny Lofton (68.1) for Willie Blair (3.4) and Ed Taubensee (6.0) – Ken Singleton (29.9) and Mike Torrez (18.4) for Rich Coggins (-1.2) and Dave McNally (-0.5) – Lou Brock (41.6) for Ernie Broglio (-1.5) – Jimmie Fox (33.9)… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

One comment about the Randy Johnson/Langston trade. At the time there was serious doubt that Johnson would ever learn control. Montreal was a pennant contender, and Langston was 28 and one of the better pitchers in baseball. Unquestionably a bad trade–particularly because Langston left as a Free Agent, but kind of understandable.

Doug
Guest

That was definitely Montreal’s thinking. They were in win now mode and Langston, who was seen as a likely rental, was the hired gun to take them to a pennant. If they’d had a crystal ball, would have put a different package together, but trade made a lot of sense at the time, despite not working out.

David P
Guest
-Jeff Bagwell (79.6) for Larry Anderson (3.8) -Brian Giles (43.3) for Ricardo Rincon (5.3) -Grady Sizemore (27.2), Brandon Phillips (30.2), Cliff Lee (43.3), and Lee Stevens (0.3) for Bartolo Colon (26.8) and Tim Drew (-0.6) -Omar Vizquel (35.0) for Felix Fermin (-1.6) and Reggie Jefferson (4.9) -Shin-Soo Choo (29.3) for Ben Broussard (-1.6) -Graig Nettles (49.4) and Jerry Moses (0.1) for John Ellis (2.0), Jerry Kenney (0.2), Charlie Spikes (0.8), and Rusty Torres (-0.3) -Steve Finley (43.3), Curt Schilling (80.3), and Pete Harnisch (17.8) for Glenn Davis (0.7) -Luis Gonzalez (38.4) and Scott Servais (2.8) for Rick Wilkins (1.7) -John… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Looks like the Finely/Schilling/Harnisch trade wins the WAR prize at +140.7.

Doyle Alexander gets into one of these trades at the beginning and end of his career, first as the hidden gem and later as the booby prize.

David P
Guest

The Astros only received 24.1 WAR from that trade. Wonder what kind of team they would have been had they help onto that threesome + Luis Gonzalez?

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Yes, we could take the extra step of seeing how much of that future WAR the trading team actually recevied. For example, Cleveland flipped Brandon Phillips’ before he produced, and they also got only 16 WAR from Cliff Lee before flipping him (and now they’ve gotten 13 WAR out of Carlos Carrasco, for whom he was traded).

Richard Chester
Guest

Roy Sievers (25.2) for Gil Coan (-1.3).

Mike L
Guest

One more. Dock Medich (future WAR 8.8) for Willie Randolph (65.8) Dock Ellis (1.8) and Ken Brett (9.2)

David P
Guest

Interesting how the two late 70s AL powerhouses were built around some amazing trades. Chambliss, Nettles, and Randolph for the Yankees. Otis, McRae, Patek for the Royals. I’m probably forgetting a few names but those are the ones that easily come to mind.

Mike L
Guest

This whole discussion leads me to wonder who was the most valuable trading piece of all time–who brought in the most WAR, after every thread of every trade after the first one was valued.

e pluribus munu
Guest
The lopsided trade I remember most clearly was Colavito for Kuenn after the 1959 season — only 21.6 vs. 5.9, but the height of the profile at that moment, HR champ for BA champ, was hard to match. But what I think of most is that, at the time, my favorite AL team was Detroit, and I was distraught: to me in those days, batting average was everything. So, looking from a fan’s point of view, the general theme here is how completely wrong I was in regard to high profile trades. For example, at the times of their trades,… Read more »
Kahuna Tuna
Guest

A few more:

Nolan Ryan (81.1), Don Rose (-0.7) and Leroy Stanton (6.9) for Jim Fregosi (6.0)
Pete Alexander (55.8) and Bill Killefer (2.5) for Pickles Dillhoefer (0.2), Mike Prendergast (2.3) and $55K
Ryne Sandberg (67.6) and Larry Bowa (1.2) for Iván de Jesús (2.2)
Shoeless Joe Jackson (62.8) and Morrie Rath (10.2) for Bris Lord (6.1)
Christy Mathewson (95.3) for Amos Rusie (-0.7)

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

And then there’s the game of draft picks forfeited by free agent signings.
For example, the Yankees got 16.4 out of Mark Teixiera instead of being in position to draft Mike Trout.
(silly, I know, as there were 24 other teams that didn’t choose Trout)

Dr. Doom
Guest

One of my faves: Richie Sexson (5.9) and Shane Nance (-.4) for Chris Capuano (-2.3), Craig Counsell (14.8), Chad Moeller (-4.0), Lyle Overbay (16.1), Jorge De La Rosa (13.9) and Junior Spivey (3.2). They’re not all winners, but the Brewers came out ahead by 36.2 WAR on that one. It’s also such a BIG trade, I’m always surprised it’s not better-remembered – but then, it’s two teams no one cared about, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.

Mike L
Guest

Oddball fact about this one. Overbay, Capuano, Moeller, and Sexton all had end of career bench stints on the Yankees. Sexton and Counsell played for 5 teams, Capuano and Overbay for 6, Moeller for 7. Journeymen Allstars

Ken
Guest
Craig Kimbrel has struck out 26 of 50 batters this season, which is 52%. In 2012, he became the only pitcher in history to strike out over 50% of batters faced, minimum 60 IP. After the 1885 season, Toad Ramsey held the record in this category at 25.8%. Here is the progression of the record. I hope the data lines up reasonably well. Pitcher Year Team Lg BF SO Pct IP Toad Ramsey 1885 LOU AA 322 83 0.258 79.0 Bob Feller 1936 CLE AL 279 76 0.272 62.0 Sandy Koufax 1957 BRO NL 444 122 0.275 104.1 Ryne Duren… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Ken: I hope you don’t mind but I put your data into a more readable form
Year … Team.. Lg … BF … SO … Pct … IP … Pitcher
1885 … LOU … AA … 322 … 83 … 0.258 … 79.0 … Toad Ramsey
1936 … CLE … AL … 279 … 76 … 0.272 … 62.0 … Bob Feller
1957 … BRO … NL … 444 … 122 … 0.275 … 104.1 … Sandy Koufax
1958 … NYY … AL … 307 … 87 … 0.283 … 75.2 … Ryne Duren
1959 … NYY … AL … 322 … 96 … 0.298 … 76.2 … Ryne Duren
1963 … BOS … AL … 541 … 162 … 0.299 … 132.1 … Dick Radatz
1977 … CHC … NL … 411 … 129 … 0.314 … 107.1 … Bruce Sutter
1984 … NYM.. NL … 879 … 276 … 0.314 … 218.0 … Dwight Gooden
1986 … TOR … AL … 370 … 118 … 0.319 … 91.1 … Tom Henke
1987 … TOR … AL … 363 … 128 … 0.353 … 94.0 … Tom Henke
1990 … CIN … NL … 384 … 136 … 0.354 … 98.0 … Rob Dibble
1991 … CIN … NL … 334 … 124 … 0.371 … 82.1 … Rob Dibble
1992 … CIN … NL … 286 … 110 … 0.385 … 70.1 … Rob Dibble
1998 … HOU.. NL … 247 … 97 … 0.393 … 60.0 … Billy Wagner
1999 … NYM.. NL … 312 … 128 … 0.410 … 78.0 … Armando Benitez
1999 … HOU.. NL … 286 … 124 … 0.434 … 74.2 … Billy Wagner
2003 … LAD … NL … 306 … 137 … 0.448 … 82.1 … Eric Gagne
2012 … ATL … NL … 231 … 116 … 0.502 … 62.2 … Craig Kimbrel

Ken
Guest

Thank you Richard! Looks much better now.

David P
Guest

BTW, the current record for a starter was set in 1999 by Pedro (37.5%). Randy Johnson fell just short of breaking the record in 2001 (37.4%).

No other season is close to those two though Chris Sale is currently at 37.6%.

Ken
Guest

From 1876-1952, at least one strikeout per inning was accomplished just 8 times (20 IP minimum). The list:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/share.fcgi?id=HbrRE

Dr. Doom
Guest

… and who doesn’t love a list with The Only Nolan (my favorite “official” ballplayer name) of the Wilmington Quicksteps?

Also, only three of the aforementioned 8 seasons occurred in the AL or NL, and only one of the remaining three was in a season with more than 75 IP. Bob Feller’s 1937 was truly unique, I would say (and even THEN it fell 5-and-a-third short of qualifying).

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Jason Hammel pitched the first game in almost a year with
7+ IP
7 Runs allowed

It was done 3 times last year, and once in 2015.
Jordan Zimmerman got a W in his effort last year, backed by an 8-run 1st inning.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I had almost completed a delicious list detailing how many times this had been done every year since 1969
(and I hit the back button on my mouse and freakin’ lost it (stupid, stupid stupid – you know to do it in Office first))

But it was roughly 10 times a year in the 90’s.
A high of 26 in 1987, and then regularly in the mid-20’s through the 70’s.
1976 stood out with 40.

Here’s Billy Martin letting his starter give up an inside-the-park grand slam in the 9th inning with a 7-5 lead:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK198009260.shtml

Mike L
Guest

Classic Billy Martin. Mike Norris. 25 years old. 45 batters, 17 H and 1BB. Norris was 22-9 that year, 284 IP 24 CG in 33 starts. After that, with what was left of his arm, 421 IP over three years, then out of the Majors for seven years. Career BWAR 8.3, 5.9 of which came in the 1980 year. Martin Malpractice.

Doug
Guest

And doing it on Sep 26, with expanded rosters!

robb
Guest

I’ve noticed casually that Justin Verlander has generally poor won-lost records in April (tho usually pitching OK); but much better once May arrives. For some reason I can’t login to my account or create a new Baseball-Reference account to use the tools. Could one of you wizards let me know how Justin fares in April and May 1 and laterin his career. W-L, WHIP, SO/BB whatever insight would be appreciated.

Richard Chester
Guest

Robb: This is all I can squeeze in.
Split … W … L … W-L% … ERA … CG … IP … HR … BB … SO … WHIP … SO9
April … 20 … 22 … 0.476 … 4.00 … 2 … 369.0 … 36 … 133 … 333 … 1.252 … 8.1
May … 34 … 18 … 0.654 … 3.29 … 7 … 410.0 … 26 … 117 … 373 … 1.115 … 8.2
June … 29 … 13 … 0.690 … 3.57 … 6 … 380.2 … 44 … 131 … 350 … 1.222 … 8.3
July … 34 … 19 … 0.642 … 3.21 … 5 … 412.2 … 36 … 115 … 379 … 1.127 … 8.3
August … 26 … 19 … 0.578 … 3.75 … 1 … 382.0 … 41 … 112 … 378 … 1.246 … 8.9
Sept+ … 33 … 17 … 0.660 … 3.18 … 2 … 427.0 … 37 … 111 … 426 … 1.183 … 9.0

robb
Guest

Thx Richard. His W/L Percentage Ex-April is .644. I know it’s not considered an imp stat now, but I like a guy who’s 33-17 in September.

David P
Guest

As an Indians fan, I’ve always wondered why Verlander struggles so much at Progressive Field. In 27 career starts, he’s 9-15 with a 5.72 ERA.

Meanwhile, he’s faced Cleveland in 23 home starts and gone 11-7 with a 3.36 ERA only slightly higher than his overall Comerica Park ERA (3.19).

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
I was wondering, with most relievers being one-inning (start-of-inning) specialists nowadays, who has come in to games with the most Inherited Runners? 112 … Wayne Granger (1969) 104 … Bob Lacey (1978) 103 … Sid Monge (1979) 99 … Goose (1975) 99 … Sparky (1977) 98 … Mitch Williams (1987) 97 … Mark Eichhorn (1987) 96 … Tom Murphy (1974) 96 … Ed Vande Berg (1982) Since 1988: 92 … Jeff Nelson (1993) 88 … Richie Lewis (1986) 84 … Michael Jackson (1988) 84 … Ted Power (1992) 82 … Frank DiPino (1989) Since 1998: 80 … Dan Plesac (1998)… Read more »
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