How Jaime Garcia stacks up against some of the current and all-time great pitchers in their rookie years
I want to start this article off by comparing Jaime Garcia’s rookie year against some of the all-time great pitchers rookie years in the history of MLB. Here is a chart comparing Jaime against these greats, some still active. I explain what the * means following the chart.
The * for Pedro Martinez is because 1994 was his first year as a full time starting pitcher. He pitched 107 innings in 1993, but made only 2 starts. The * for Tom Glavine is because he barely met 50 innings required to be qualified as a rookie in 1987, so I added his 1988 stats as well. Neither year went well. Johan Santana’s official rookie year was 2000, but he only started 5 games, that’s why I added 2002. Sandy Koufax qualified as a rookie in 1956, I just wanted to add his first 3 years to give an indication of what I’m trying to point out.
Every player on this list will likely end up in the Hall of Fame, if not already there. I think if the writers would have looked closely at stats like these, they would have seen how special of a year it was for Jaime Garcia. Rookie starting pitchers just don’t come out and dominate, even some of the greatest of all time. I think when you take Garcia’s stats and compare them against these pitchers, you can see how special of a year it really was.
There were 2 awards I was sure about this year. The NL ROY Award going to Jason Heyward and the NL Cy Young Award going to Roy Halladay. I got the first one wrong. But I’ll sell my house for $1 if Roy Halladay doesn’t win the NL Cy Young. Buster Posey wins the ROY Award, and I can’t argue with that. However, I think Jaime Garcia should have finished ahead of preseason favorite Heyward and you can see why.
The writers got it right with Posey, he plays the arguably the most difficult and crucial position on a baseball diamond. Some would argue shortstop is that position, but if you think about all the responsibilities of a catcher compared to any other position, I don’t see the argument. Here’s a look at Posey’s stats from this year and his WAR rating.
Buster Posey—Catcher—Rookie—SF Giants
This looks like a ROY to me. I was positive the writers were going to get this one as wrong as the managers and coaches did in giving Derek Jeter another gold glove, but they came through. However, I do think Jaime Garcia should have at least finished second ahead of Jason Heyward. I really thought Heyward had the award wrapped up. I have never seen a rookie get as much attention as Jason Heyward, even with all the attention on Steven Strasburg. Jaime Garcia flew well under the radar to start the season, wasn’t in any preseason predictions and was hopefully going to be a solid #4 or #5 starter with the Cardinals. All Jaime did was finish 4th in the NL in ERA with a 2.70. I don’t know if shutting Jaime down at the end of the year hurt his chances or not, but I think it was the right call to shut him down. So let’s look at Heyward’s stats.
Here is Jason Heyward’s stat line:
Heyward’s OBP of .393 is awfully impressive for a rookie. The only players in the NL who beat Heyward in OBP were Votto at .424, Pujols at .414 and Fielder at .401. Heyward finished tied for 4th with Adrian Gonzalez.
As well as Heyward played, I think I have made a strong argument for Jaime. I think if you take out preseason hype of Heyward, Garcia at least finishes 2nd.
It’s hard to compare a pitcher’s weight against a right fielder. My main argument is that it takes most pitchers, even the great ones, at least a year or two to figure it out. Jaime came in and dominated right from the start, coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2008 and only making 8 minor league starts in 2009. I don’t know if Jaime will ever pitch as well as he did this year. While I think his WHIP will go down, his 2.70 ERA will be tough to top. I think an ERA of 3.50 might be closer to the norm in the future, but I definitely don’t see him as a one year wonder. Let’s all hope he stays away from injury and continues to be a force in the rotation.