And O’Neill…hiding within the Post-Gazette without me finding him.
Jeff Karstens shouldn’t be this good. All the cool stats say so.
Look beyond Karstens’ 8-5 record and 2.28 ERA, second-lowest among National League starters. Take his strand rate, for instance.
That’s the percentage of guys Karstens leaves on base. It’s 86.6 percent. That’s just ridiculous. It’s the lowest among all of baseball’s starting pitchers. The only one close is former Pirate Ryan Vogelsong, now making the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Vogelsong sports an 85.5 percent strand rate and, not coincidentally, the lowest ERA in the league at 2.10.
...There you go. Every game Karstens pitches—he has another tonight against Atlanta—is one where he tries to defy the baseball gods, putting the ball in play all over the yard and hoping the ball finds mitts. So far that’s been working for him and other Pirates pitchers because the balls are finding mitts, or rather the reverse. Those same statisticians who calculate BABIP tell us that Andrew McCutchen, Ronny Cedeno and Neil Walker have made enormous improvement in the field this year, and that McCutchen and Cedeno are among the best in baseball at their positions. (I confess I’ve done an almost complete 180-degree turn this season in my belief in Cedeno’s glove.)
...He’s baffling batters and statisticians at this point, both of which are fun to do. I don’t know about you but I don’t see any choice better than continuing to believe in Karstens, even if we can’t entirely figure out how he does it.
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