With less than 3 months to go before opening day, I wanted to talk a little bit about Adam Wainwright. The reason I wanted to talk about Wainwright is because I was recently reviewing his similarity scores on his Baseball-Reference.com page. I first want to point out that Tim Lincecum is second on Wainwright’s similarity score. On similar pitchers through the age of 28, Hall of Famers Jack Chesbro and Warren Spahn are in Wainwright’s top 10. Orel Hershiser is number one on Wainwright’s similar pitchers through the age of 28. While not a HOF’er, Hershiser is definitely in the hall of very good.
I’m not sure how much better Wainwright will be. I don’t think he’s at his peak yet, but it’s hard to imagine his 2.42 ERA from 2010 will be topped. But then again, it wouldn’t surprise me. As I mentioned before, if you compare Wainwright and Roy Halladay’s 2010 statistics, there’s really no reason Halladay should have been the unanimous Cy Young Award winner. I think Halladay’s perfect game stuck out in the voters’ minds. I’m not so sure that Halladay pitching for the unbeatable Philadelphia Phillies hurt him either.
Moving on, it’s actually easy to compare Wainwright and Lincecum. Wainwright didn’t start a game in the majors until 2007, which was Lincecum’s rookie season. In that time, Lincecum has started 122 games and Wainwright has started 119 games. While comparing Wainwright and Lincecum, I wanted to throw in some other well known names. I added Hershiser since he is #1 on Wainwright’s list through the age of 28. I am also adding Jered Weaver, who is #1 on similar pitchers, and Josh Johnson, who is #10 on Wainwright’s list. Here is the table.
I mainly wanted to give a look at Wainwright vs. Lincecum. The only thing Lincecum really leads Wainwright in is strikeouts. Wainwright doesn’t give pre-game interviews from his locker, and probably won’t be telling folks to light up after the Cardinals win the 2011 World Series, but he does pitch great. He doesn’t get the hype of being a top 5 pitcher in the NL, but he should. In 4 years as a starter, his ERA has gone down each year, from 3.70 in 2007, 3.20 in 2008, 2.63 in 2009 to 2.42 in 2010. Wainwright is now among the elite, and has been for 2 years. It’s time for him to start getting the recognition he deserves.