Stats prove that Mariners' Ace George Kirby has the best control in the history of baseball

Mariners' pitcher George Kirby has been flirting with history for some time, and it is time to give him his flowers.
Arizona Diamondbacks v Seattle Mariners
Arizona Diamondbacks v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Baseball is full of weird stats. You can cherry pick any arbitrary stat from any arbitrary time, and you can make a case for whatever player to be the greatest of all time. In a sport where literally every pitch can be tracked, and every play is a piece of history, this can be an easy thing to do. But when you start using a stat that goes all the way back to the start of the "Live Ball Era (1920)", those stats can be impressive. That is exactly what Mariners pitcher George Kirby is doing.

Before we get into Kirby, Let's do this exorcise. Who would you rather choose? Player A, or Player B?

Player A

Player B

Innings Pitched: 34.1

Innings Pitched: 32.1

ERA: 3.67

ERA: 4.18

WHIP: 1.07

WHIP: 1.11

K/9: 7.86

K/9: 10.6

BB/9: 1.3

BB/9: 1.1

So, who would you take? Player A or B? Think about it before I give you who the players are. Are you ready? They are both George Kirby. Player A is George's last six starts from 2023, while Player B is George's first six starts of this year. See what I mean about picking arbitrary stats? If you throw enough at the wall, eventually something will stick. That is what's crazy about George Kirby's career walks per 9 innings. George's BB/9 is 1.15 for his career, which is the lowest in all of Major League Baseball since 1920.

Think about the greats who he has beaten over that time. Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, Roy Halladay. If you went to baseball reference, you would not see George's name on that list. That list has a minimum 1000 innings pitched, and George has just 353 so far in his career. But if you were to change that minimum innings limit to 350, and kick out the Dead Ball Era guys, George comes in at number one.

George is number one, and it is not particularly close. 0.30 walks seperate George from Bob Tewksbury, who pitched from 1986-1998. While he did not walk many batters, he was nowhere near as dominate as Kirby has been. George may not be a strikeout pitcher, even though his career strikeouts per 9 innings is 8.7. He also set a career high in punchouts in his last game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, striking out 12 in his seven innings of work. He did end up walking one batter.

Sure, even with George's historic start, you have to put innings limits on him to qualify. I may be contradicting myself by putting him in that conversation, but he has been that good. If you want to make his innings count and count the Dead Ball era guys too, George would rank 15th ALL TIME. Let me say that again. George Kirby is 15th all-time in walks per 9 innings, even if you include the Dead Ball era.

In 2023, George led all of baseball in that same category, along with his strikeout-to-walk ratio. He struck out 9.05 batters per walk. Zach Eflin of the Tampa Bay Rays finished second in that category with 7.75 strikeouts per walk. What we are witnessing here is history, folks. Every 5th day, one of the best pitchers in all of baseball takes the mound for the Mariners, and now you can say one of the best pitchers of all time takes the mound for the Seattle Mariners. Enjoy it!

As always, Go Mariners!