Saturday, February 21, 2015

Matt Harvey: Best Pitcher Ever?

The following article was my first baseball-related article, originally published July 26, 2013 on The Rambling Path of the Zen Madman. Looking at it again for the first time in a year and a half, a few things became apparent:
  1. My writing has the power to jinx the hell out of the Mets.
  2. My paragraphing technique was not yet fully developed.
  3. Lonely Island has produced some timeless musical comedy.
As everyone in Mets Land knows, things didn't go so well for Matt's elbow in the month following this piece. 2014 was a lost year for Matt and the Mets, but here's to a better 2015!

I grew up watching Doc Gooden dominate the National League. For all the hype that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have gotten, the good doctor was as good or better. Almost 30 years later, the Mets again have the best young power pitcher in baseball. Matt Harvey.

Sure, the best power pitcher in baseball right now is a debatable point. There are an unreasonable number of great young pitchers in the game today. But if you look at a couple of cherry-picked metrics and filters, Harvey comes out on top. Not just on top of today’s pitchers, but the all-time best-ever brand of on top. Behold:

Filtered for starting pitchers with at least 190 innings pitched, Matt Harvey has the best FIP-. Ever. He’s second of all time in ERA-, right behind Jocko Flynn of the White Stockings. Jocko was born during the American Civil War. His career ended in 1887.

FIP- and ERA- measure a player’s performance relative to his peers, so Harvey has left a greater gap between his performance and the average MLB starter than anyone else ever. Well, he’s basically tied with Pedro Martinez for the best FIP- ever.

So does that mean Harvey’s the best pitcher ever? Not really. He’s had a Dwight Gooden-esque start to his career, but we all know where Doc ended up (in jail for a while and not in the hall of fame). This record is Harvey’s for the moment, and he has the rest of his career to ruin it. I look forward to watching, whichever way it goes. Here’s a funny clip of Matt Harvey asking New Yorkers about Matt Harvey:

One of those dudes told Harvey to “keep shining,” which reminded me of the following video. Also, there was a lot of hullabaloo about Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline in New York. I would have preferred Liza Minneli singing New York, New York, but it’s hilarious that Yankee fans were outraged that a “Red Sox song” was sung in New York. First of all, this isn’t Yankee stadium and most Mets fans have fond memories of the Red Sox (circa 1986). Secondly, Neil Diamond was born in New York and so was Caroline Kennedy, the subject of the song. It’s not as bad as the twitter storm of morons complaining that a Mexican like Marc Anthony shouldn’t be singing God Bless America, but it’s still silly. (Marc Anthony was born in New York and his parents are from Puerto Rico, but try explaining that to the sort of American who thinks he’s a patriot but has no idea what America or New York City really is.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Pitchers and Catchers Day!

Yesterday (Feb 19th) was the year's first holiday in Mets Land. Today (Feb 20th) was the same holiday in Yankee and Red Sox Nations. My adopted team from Canada doesn't celebrate until Sunday. In fact, each day from Wednesday through Sunday marks the various team holidays known as Pitchers and Catchers Day, according to this site:

Pitchers and Catchers Day marks the beginning of baseball season, even if the preseason games have yet to begin. While the first couple months of baseball season can be filled with intrigue, late December through mid February is a restless time for fans. Most of the major offseason moves have been made, and no one is playing baseball in North America.

Baseball is a daily game. MLB teams play 162 games across six months. Add in a month of postseason and a month of Spring Training, and there is a baseball game to watch almost every single day for two-thirds of the year. So for a baseball fan, it's hard to take two months of virtual stasis. But the waiting is over. The feel-good stories of the spring are already filling the newspaper pages, and meaningless exhibition games will soon bring meaning to the last days of winter.