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The Prime of Felix Hernandez

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Like any knowledgeable baseball fan, and I don’t call myself a nerd because as Millhouse once so succinctly put it “nerds are smart”, I love FanGraphs. I spend most of my time on FanGraphs browsing the player pages. Searching for King Felix’s season WAR, I noticed just how strikingly similar his 2009 and 2010 are.

His fastball is 94 MPH solid, and has been both seasons. He threw a higher percentage in 2009, but the difference is small enough that it might revert over the rest of the season. He has upped his strikeout rate to a career high, and his walk rate is only up a shade from last year. His batting average on balls in play is exactly the same as last season, which is trivial but interesting. His FIP, xFIP and tRA are all slightly up.

I think my favorite little piece information found on the King Felix page is his pitch values. He throws a fastball, change, curve and slider and all produce positive value. He doesn’t have a “show me” pitch. I remember that being a big part of the allure of Felix the prospect, that he had such a filthy arsenal. Among the top five pitchers in wins above replacement, Josh Johnson has three quality pitches, Francisco Liriano lives on his slider, though his fastball produces some value, Roy Halladay has a strong cutter, curve and change but his fastball produces negative value and Cliff Lee and John Lester both throw four quality pitches. Lee also has a show-me slider that he rarely uses.

I don’t have any in-depth analysis. No correlation between variety of quality pitches and pitcher potential. But I am pretty into the entertainment side of sports, and I think it’s cool that Felix is settling into his prime and the varied and filthy repertoire that made him such a sexy prospect is intact.