On Monday I profiled Barry Zito, you can find that write up at The Case of Barry Zito, after seeing him twirl a gem on Friday night against the Mets. There wasn’t just one lefty who was dealing it on that night as Jonathan Niese of the Mets allowed a mere run in seven innings of work. He wasn’t quite as good as Zito who tossed eight shutout innings, but Niese was good enough that I thought it would be wise to revisit my take on his value heading into the second half because to this set of eyeballs he looked very, very good on that night.
Niese, who actually possesses a repertoire that is fairly close to the one that is featured by Zito (with the addition of about three to four mph on his fastball), has been extremely effective of late. If you remove his horrible outing on June 22nd when he allowed six runs in just 4.2 innings against the Tigers, Niese has thrown up 7-straight “quality starts.” In that time he has allowed two or fewer earned runs five times, and over his last four starts, despite a 2-2 record, he has a 1.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.13 K/9 and a 3.57 K/BB ratio. Yeah, he hasn’t just been good, he has been Kim Kardashian in a bikini hot. Speaking of Kim, I’m not going to sit here and say that she isn’t a looker, but would I be insane to suggest that her sister Kourtney is actually hotter? Back to baseball.
If I’m going to suggest paying close attention to Zito in the second half as I did in the previous piece, I’d be stupid not to offer the same advice with Niese, especially when you compare the performance of each to the other.
Niese: 3.44 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7.17 K/9, 2.48 K/BB, 1.55 GB/FB
Zito: 3.51 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 6.66 K/9, 1.90 K/BB, 0.82 GB/FB
Neither lefty is a strikeout machine, but I much prefer the 7+ mark of Niese to the mark in the 6′s level of Zito. I also like the profile of Niese more given that his GB/FB ratio is greatly enhanced compared to the fly ball tendencies of Mr. Zito.
Is it possible that I haven’t been willing to give Niese his due? Based upon what my eyes saw last week, and the review of the numbers I just quickly went through, it’s fairly evident that my New York bias has precluded me from noticing that the young lefty from the Mets is pitching at a pretty high level right now and that he shouldn’t be on waivers in mixed leagues.
Fun with Numbers
Last week in Numbers: A Look Back, I took a look at some of the outstanding numbers posted by Hall of Fame ballplayers. I wanted to close the piece today with another couple of noteworthy accomplishments from the annals of the game.
* In 1890 Amos Rousie walked an all-time record 289 batters in a season in his second year as a professional. You can forgive that walk total given that he worked 548.2 innings that season. Oh yeah, he also completed 56 of his 62 starts for the New York Giants. Last season the entire National League completed 77 games.
* Speaking of innings pitched, how does that mark of 548.2 rank in the history of the game? Try just 37th. In fact, there have been 13 seasons in big league history in which a hurler tossed more than 600 innings with the record being 680 by Will White in 1879. That year White completed every single one of his 75 starts on his way to 43 victories for the Cincinnati Reds. One other note. He was pretty stingy with a 1.99 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.
* No pitcher in the history of the game was harder to hit than Nolan Ryan. Over the course of his career he allowed 6.56 hits per nine innings. For context, Mariano Rivera has posted a mark of 6.92 in his career.
By Ray Flowers