Last week, the notable statistician and baseball historian Bill James, answered a few questions in a Mailbag Post for Baseball Think Factory. One question in particular had to do with own Matt Harvey, and I must say he isn’t as excited about Harvey as some of us Mets fans are.
Matt Harvey debuted this year and struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings and put up a 2.72 ERA in 60 innings. How likely is a pitcher with a debut like that at the age of 23 to become a great pitcher?
It’s fairly long odds. I identified all pitchers since 1900 who were 22-24 years old, made 5 to 15 starts and less than 25 appearances, had no previous major league history or very limited major league history, and who were at least +10 vs. the league in strikeouts (10 more strikeouts than a league-average pitcher) and positive overall performance.
There are only 29 such pitchers in major league history before Harvey (I had expected it to be more) but none of the 29 became a great pitcher.
The ten best pitcher...