I admit it, I’m not always right. I’d like to think that more often than not I’ve got a handle on the world of baseball, but every once in a while I just have to throw my arms up and say I have no idea what is going on (i.e. Jose Bautista and his insane run to 40 homers). In the case of the historic excellence of Trevor Cahill I have to admit that not only did I not see it coming, I’m utterly shocked, and that doesn’t happen that often.
Here are the facts.
Cahill is second in the AL in ERA at 2.50.
Cahill is second in the AL in WHIP at 0.98.
Cahill is first in the AL in batting average against at .195.
As if that isn’t enough to knock you off your chair if you have been on a desert island with Yvonne Strahovski for the past four months (the beautiful blonde from CHUCK), how about this little whopper of historical greatness:
Trevor Cahill has made 20-straight starts in which he has thrown at least five innings while never allowing more than six hits.
While that may not sound like much, here is the context that makes that statement utterly amazing. That stretch of 20-straight starts of five innings and six or fewer hits allowed ties Nolan Ryan for the all-time modern day major league record. Think about that. I just said the words ‘all-time’ and ‘Nolan Ryan’ in the same sentence, and then related that statement to the performance of Mr. Cahill. Shocking isn’t a strong enough term to describe my reaction.
I’ll be the first to admit that scouts have long been impressed with the stuff of Cahill who, literally, has a difficult time throwing the ball straight (he gets tremendous movement on this tosses). At the same time, we all know that his current pace is nuts, don’t we?
(1) His current BAA is a joke. His stuff isn’t near strong enough to warrant a sub .200 mark (last season the best mark in baseball was .200 by Clayton Kershaw).
(2) Though he is an excellent ground ball inducer (56 percent of batted balls), there is little to no chance that Cahill will be able to continue to hold batters to a mere 14.4 percent line drive rate. Remember, the big league average is about 20 percent. Even if he substantially betters that league average mark, it’s still decidedly foolish to think he will be able to keep that LD-rate this low.
(3) His BABIP is laughably low. His .212 mark is .064 points below his mark from last season and it’s the best mark in the AL by some .044 points this year (Jeff Niemann). There is no way, none, zip, zilch, nada, that he can sustain that pace.
Does this mean that Cahill will fall flat on his face over the final quarter of the season? Not necessarily. Sometimes players are so locked in that they can outperform their skill level and taunt the gods of logic. At the same time, sooner or later the universe has a way of correcting itself (remember what happened to Fausto Carmona after his magical 2007 season?). Sooner or later Cahill is going to have to pay the Pied Piper – it’s only a matter of when his payment will be due.
By Ray Flowers