It seemed like every team in baseball wanted to sign Mark Buehrle this offseason. Why was the bidding so intense for a pitcher who has never been an ace? The most obvious answer is that every team needs pitching, and there were few available options on the market this offseason. The second reason was that, despite never being that ace, Buehrle has long been one hell of an innings eating beast.
From 2001-11 Buehrle won at least 10 games each season. Only two other men are in that group – CC Sabathia and Javier Vazquez.
From 2001-11 Buehrle won a total of 157 games. Only three men have more victories – Sabathia (176), Roy Halladay (175) and Roy Oswalt (159).
From 2001-11 Buehrle hurled at least 200-innings each season. No other pitcher in baseball had a streak of longer than 7-straight 200 inning efforts the last 11 years (Livan Hernandez and Dan Haren each had a seven year run).
From 2001-11 Buehrle tossed 2,425.1 innings. No man in the game threw more innings (Sabathia was second at 2,364.1 innings).
Those numbers clearly point to the most obvious statement I’ll make in this piece – Buehrle is as stable an option on the hill as there is in the game.
Buehrle owns a career ERA of 3.83, an in the last 11 seasons he’s posted an ERA over 4.28 just one time (4.99 in 2006). He’s also had a mark in the 3′s in eight of the 11 seasons, and for his career his ERA is well below the American League average of 4.43. That’s pretty impressive.
Buehrle has a career WHIP of 1.28. Though he’s been above that mark in three of the last four seasons, he’s also posted a mark over 1.35 in only two of the past 11 seasons. The American League WHIP since 2001 is 1.38 by the way.
This is where things take a turn for the worse. Buehrle is a solid arm who gets outs and limits runs, but he does that by pitching to contact. Buehrle owns a 5.07 K/9 mark, a full two batters below the big league average. He also has failed to reach his career mark in any of the last three seasons. That’s just awful. As a result his raw strikeout total average for the last three seasons is 104 Ks per season. His former teammate, closer Sergio Santos, had 92 strikeouts last year.
Things don’t appear to be any different than they have been over the past decade. Buehrle will take the ball every five days and provide quality innings for the Marlins after signing that four year, $58 million deal. At the same time he is completely deficient in the strikeout department leaving his fantasy value lacking compared to his real world value. The only real concern with Buehrle would be if his arm fell off, and given all the miles on it, that’s always a possibility. But given his decade plus run of health, I’m willing to assume that he is just one of those rare hurlers, like Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine, that just never have arm problems. Maybe it’s because he throws only throws 85 mph.
By Ray Flowers