Comparing 1-2 Punches in the AL West

Oakland A’s

1) Brett Anderson

Age: 22

2009 FIP: 3.69

2009 tRA: 3.66

2009 K/9: 7.70

2009 BB/9: 2.31

2009 IP: 175.1

2009 WAR: 3.8

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 4.5

2) Dallas Braden

Age: 27

2009 FIP: 3.73

2009 tRA: 4.38

2009 K/9: 5.33

2009 BB/9: 2.77

2009 IP: 136.2

2009 WAR: 2.9

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 3.0


I love Brett Anderson and his potential, but Dallas Braden is pretty boring.  The A’s have the ability to shock the AL West this season, but a lot of that rests on Brett Anderson’s shoulders.


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) Ervin Santana

Age: 28

2009 FIP: 5.02

2009 tRA: 5.60

2009 K/9: 6.89

2009 BB/9: 3.03

2009 IP: 139.2

2009 WAR: 1.1

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 3.5

2) Jered Weaver

Age: 28

2009 FIP: 4.04

2009 tRA: 4.32

2009 K/9: 7.42

2009 BB/9: 2.82

2009 IP: 211.0

2009 WAR: 3.9

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 4.0


In all likelihood, Weaver’ll pitch to about the level he did last year, and Saunders will return to form, at least somewhat.  The Angels just don’t scare me that much, and I’m a little underwhelmed by their starting pitching.


Texas Rangers

1) Rich Harden

Age: 29

2009 FIP: 4.35

2009 tRA: 4.92

2009 K/9: 10.91

2009 BB/9: 4.28

2009 IP: 141.0

2009 WAR: 1.8

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 3.0

2) Neftali Feliz

Age: 22

2009 FIP: 2.48 (2.88 in AAA)

2009 tRA: 1.55

2009 K/9: 11.32 (8.73 in AAA)

2009 BB/9: 2.32 (3.49 in AAA)

2009 IP: 31.0 (77.1 in AAA)

2009 WAR: 1.1

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 3.0


There are too many “if’s” with these two.  If Harden stays, if Feliz can stay in the rotation, if this, if that.  This pair has a lot of upside, but that upside comes with the most risk of any #1 or #2 I’ve covered so far.  Plus Harden isn’t suited to the Arlington ballpark at all, so it’s unlikely his peripheral numbers (like ERA and win-loss record) will be very pretty.


Let’s take a breather.  So far we’ve looked at 1′s and 2′s of varying quality.  Brett Anderson is probably the best of the bunch so far, with Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver close behind.  Harden could be great if he avoids injury, but he hasn’t done that successfully for over 5 years.  Dallas Braden is pretty weak for a #2 starter, but he’s probably a decent enough 3-win pitcher.  And, of course, Neftali Feliz has the potential to be absolutely terrifying — if the Rangers are smart enough to keep him in the rotation.  His fastball averaged almost 96 mph, his monstrous slider checked in at 78.5, and his changeup at 85 (all pitch fx results garnered in a small sample size).

These 6 pitchers are about to be blown completely out of the water.


Seattle Mariners

1) Felix Hernandez

Age: 24

2009 FIP: 3.09

2009 tRA: 3.31

2009 K/9: 8.18

2009 BB/9: 2.68

2009 IP: 238.2

2009 WAR: 6.9

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 6.0

2) Clifton Phifer Lee

2009 FIP: 3.11

2009 tRA: 3.69

2009 K/9: 7.03

2009 BB/9: 1.67

2009 IP: 231.2

2009 WAR: 6.6

(Taylor’s projected) 2010 WAR: 6.0


Felix Hernandez would be a strong bet for the 2010 Cy Young.  Problem is, the man most likely to beat him to that honor plays on the same team. Ladies and gentlemen, the Seattle Mariners have the best 1-2 punch in baseball, at least in 2010.  They’ve managed to align their young ace with a man who has arguably the best approach to pitching of any pitcher currently in baseball.  Cliff Lee throws strikes, misses bats, and barely walks anyone.  He gets ahead in the count, induces more ground balls than fly balls, and pitches deep into games.  And the best part about my description of Lee is that I could easily have been talking about King Felix.  They’re both that good.

True, Santana could have a season of 2008 proportions (5.8 WAR), Jered Weaver could return to his 2006 (lucky) form, and Neftali Feliz could realize his full potential and rain absolute destruction down upon the American League.  But therein lies the beauty of the whole thing.  For either of those things to happen would be unexpected and, well, for all of them to happen would be extremely unlikely; but for Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee NOT to both put up close to 6-win seasons would be even less likely.

Dream big, Mariners fans.  Your top two starters combined for over 13 wins above a replacement-level pitcher last season, and neither is showing any signs of slowing down.

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Tags: Angels Athletics Brett Anderson Cliff Lee Dallas Braden Ervin Santana Felix Hernandez Jered Weaver Mariners Neftali Feliz Rangers Rich Harden

  • Caleb

    I did not realize how good Bret Anderson was last year. I knew he was good and is projected to be great, but I was hoping it would take longer for that to happen. The Mariners easily have the best 1-2 punch in the West. It is nice to see the Angeles pitching declining. It is nice to see you compare the positions that the Mariners are clear winners. I am not looking forward to left feild and catcher posts as much.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Center field and right field should be nice though.

  • Taylor

    Caleb, you might be surprised about what I do for the catcher post. And I’m covering the corner outfield positions in one post.

    Bullpen is next.

  • Griffin Cooper

    I like how we’ve each got our own little series’ going.

  • Kaleb

    these couldn’t be more off. first of all ben sheets will be the ace for oakland (i realize you didn’t know that at the time, i’m just correcting now), and the number two will be dallas braden.(you are correct about brett anderson being a stud by the way. i faced him in high school and he is the real deal). for the angels weaver is the 1 and saunders is the 2. the rangers 1 will be scott feldman and rich harden will be the 2. feliz probably won’t start the season in the rotation and if he did, he would be the number 5, not the 2. and it’s funny you mariners fans only talk about the first two pitchers since that’s all you have. try comparing the rest of the rotations and see who has the best.

  • Griffin Cooper

    How nice of you to stop by and correct something that hadn’t happened yet when this post was written.

    As for the rest of your corrections: I don’t see why Joe Saunders would be the Angels #3, and I hope for their sake that he isn’t. He’s mediocre at best.

    Scott Feldman was almost completely average last year, and he would have been worse if not for really good luck on BABIP and HR/FB. Rich Harden is exponentially better when healthy, so if he’s not on the DL there’s absolutely no reason for him to not be the #1.

    And as for the Mariners, if you had ever read any of our stuff before, you’d realize that you’re just repeating things we’ve been saying for months. It’s no secret that the Mariners lack starting pitching depth. Felix and Lee are aces, Ryan Rowland-Smith is average, Ian Snell is a huge question mark, and the #5 won’t be much more than a replacement level arm. However, when and if Erik Bedard returns, the Mariners will then have the best 1-2-3 in the division, rather than just the best 1-2.