Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/3/13
Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter last night, putting him in the same group as a lot of other people. It was actually his second no-hitter, putting him in a much smaller group of guys who have done it twice. This post is not really about Homer Bailey’s no-hitter — I’m working on one of those too, but it’s a little more research intensive — but about the fact that Homer Bailey shouldn’t have needed to throw another no-hitter to get some attention. Because, even before last night, Homer Bailey was pitching like an ace. I’m going to show you a table of pitchers, the qualification being that they met minimum thresholds based on just two statistics. These lines were somewhat arbitrarily drawn, and there is more to pitching than clearing these made up dividers in these two metrics. That said, I think these parameters illustrate the point pretty nicely. Below is a list of every starting pitcher in the Major Leagues (minimum 75 innings) that has thrown at least half of their pitches in the strike zone while also getting hitters to make contact less than 78% of the time. Name IP ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR Contact% Zone% Anibal Sanchez 81.2 2.76 2.07 2.57 3.2 2.4 73% 50% Max Scherzer 110.1 3.10 2.69 2.79 3.4 3.1 74% 51% Matt Harvey 117.0 2.00 2.00 2.64 4.2 4.6 74% 51% Corey Kluber 81.0 4.33 3.53 3.13 1.2 0.5 75% 52% Chris Sale 106.1 2.79 2.86 2.99 3.1 3.3 76% 52% A.J. Burnett 89.1 3.12 3.32 3.09 1.3 1.9 76% 50% Clayton Kershaw 130.1 1.93 2.59 3.12 3.4 4.7 76% 50% Madison Bumgarner 111.0 3.08 3.42 3.49 1.6 2.1 77% 51% CC Sabathia 117.0 4.15 3.93 3.52 1.8 1.6 77% 50% Homer Bailey 111.0 3.57 2.67 2.98 2.9 2.0 77% 50% Hisashi Iwakuma 115.1 2.42 3.47 3.22 2.0 3.7 78% 53% Justin Verlander 105.0 3.77 3.05 3.42 2.8 1.8 78% 51% Justin Masterson 124.0 3.48 3.43 3.39 2.3 2.7 78% 52% Mike Minor 102.2 2.98 3.47 3.60 1.8 2.2 78% 52% Total 1,500 3.07 3.04 3.15 2.5 2.7 76% 51% 14 pitchers in baseball are pulling off this neat little trick, and Homer Bailey is one of them. Now, these arbitrary lines exclude guys like Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg are both over 49% on in-zone pitches, and it excludes Cliff Lee and Shelby Miller who are pitching to just slightly more contact than this. You can be a good pitcher without meeting these exact parameters. But, you know, throwing a lot of pitches in the zone while also getting hitters to swing and miss a lot is a sign that you’re doing most of the things that good pitchers do. And that list is full of pretty great pitchers, plus Corey Kluber, who Carson Cistulli thinks is a pretty great pitcher. As a group, they’re averaging 4.2 WAR per 180 innings pitched, and no, it isn’t full of guys like Kluber who are underperforming their FIP, as their overall ERA is a little lower than their peripherals would suggest. Throwing strikes and missing bats is the majority of good pitching. It’s not the entirety of it, and this list is primarily missing a variable that would account for home run rate, but Homer Bailey is doing the two things that are most likely to make you an ace. And despite his name and the not-really-deserved reputation, he’s not giving up home runs either. If his first name was Mat or Bronson, I wonder if he’d be viewed as a pitcher with a long ball problem, given his career 10.5% HR/FB ratio and 1.01 HR/9 rate. Bailey’s main problem has been that his strikeout rate has never really matched his stuff before. He’s basically been a league average strikeout hurler, which limited his ability to reach his potential. It takes some kind of special command to be a true ace while only striking out 20% of the batters you face in the National League. This year, though, Bailey’s striking out 25% of the batters he faces, and that difference has allowed him to make the leap into the top tier of NL starting pitchers. He’ll have to keep this up for more than three months to be considered a true #1 starter, but his combination of high strikes/low contact is a recipe for greatness. Bailey’s no-hitter last night wasn’t a frustrating young pitcher finally putting it all together; it was a high quality pitcher having a great night in the middle of a great season. Homer Bailey didn’t arrive last night. He’s been really good for a while now.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chris Bosh to miss All-Star Game with calf injury, Al Horford to replace

NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports bringing sports betting in to the light

Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia becomes first player ever banned by MLB for PEDs

Eight bold predictions for NBA All-Star Weekend

Iowa athletics department under federal civil rights investigation

2016 Naismith Hall of Fame finalists announced

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hasselbeck ‘strongly leaning towards playing’ in 18th season

Pitchers to wear new protective headwear in spring training

Klay Thompson: Warriors will shoot for all-time wins record

Bryce Harper 'squashed' beef with Jonathan Papelbon

WWE has record revenue despite perceived troubles

CC Sabathia declares himself ‘ready to go’ after alcohol rehab

City hosts Tottenham in Valentine’s Day clash

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Is there a place for Aaron Hill with the Brewers?

The market for forwards may shape the NHL trade deadline

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

The most intriguing NBA story lines for the rest of the season

Report: Timberwolves ‘lament’ Andrew Wiggins missing weight-lifting sessions

Kevin Durant to the Warriors makes little sense

City of Atlanta, Braves fighting over iconic Hank Aaron statue

Brock Osweiler hopes to remain part of ‘very special’ Broncos

Kobe Bryant receives great gift from ‘media’ member

Ranking the best NBA/ABA Dunk Contests ever

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker