More Basking in Paxton's Glory
the king of M's blogs suns itself in the afternoon preceding a Zeus game


During the broadcast Thursday night, Mike Blowers marveled that 4 or 5 people in Kansas City had walked by him and said, hey dude, we're looking forward to seeing this Paxton kid.  You get it, right.  The buzz is gathering.  James Paxton is gaining legitimacy as a star pitcher.  ;- )

During the Fangraphs blogging this week, Jeff Sullivan wrote a neat article that suggests we agree that James Paxton is one of the best.  We've got no punch line here.  Maybe we woulda had one in 2013.  Nah, you know how much we like Sully.  He got it in 2013.  He's gently leading a grumbly crowd to water, in hopes they'll decide to drink.


The Exec Sum for Sully's piece:

1.  It's very important, in a good way, that Paxton showed the ability to fix things after his DL stint.

2.  Starting from June 2016, which is when he returned from a demotion, Paxton has thrown 230 innings (about one long season).  Since then he's gotten super-elite results on BATTED balls.  Fine, he whiffs 10+ a game.  But the real story is how weak the hitters' results are assuming they do NOT strike out.

3.  Paxton has personally dragged the Mariners into a Wild Card chase.

4.  The readers blink, skeptical, and wonder what's wrong with the stats.


This is all pretty funny to think about:  batters are just up there trying to put the ball into fair territory against Zeus ... but when they do, they're dead anyway.  Yeah baby.  Dr. D could add several watts to our heat-lamp basking light, but here's just one.

We searched AL starting pitchers since 2013, when Paxton debuted.  We sorted them by Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP), which is essentially "expected ERA if you have an average defense and park."  Here's what you get among active SP's:


Last First FIP
Sale Chris 2.86
Paxton James 3.06
McCullers Lance 3.09
Price David 3.11
Greinke* Zack 3.22
Carrasco Carlos 3.27
Lester Jon 3.28


Yu Darvish was next at 3.30.  Garrett Richards and Dallas Keuchel rounded out the top 10, with Felix #11 and Chris Archer #12.  But the point is, when he's been on the field K-Pax has already been the best pitcher in the American League after Chris Sale.  We're not talking about potential.  With and without his struggles he's been the #2 guy in the league.  This was K-Pax, not Zeus, and a wobbly K-Pax at that.  His lifetime FIP has been 3.06.

And he's been demoted during that time.  It's a strange situation.  Randy Johnson was a strange situation too.  We was there.


Earlier in the year, some Denizens opined that Paxton is capable of running a 1+ ERA for a season if healthy.  Dr. D sort of chuckled about that, because it's so easy for things to go wrong, and by "things" we mean "home runs."  But Paxton is a groundball pitcher.  And what flies he does give up are not barrelled.  His homer rate might actually be 0.62 like it shows.

When he's throwing right, a 1.50 ERA sometimes feels like the upper limit for Paxton.  It's not, but it feels like it, don't it?


Tomorrow's news today, babe.  Want to know something else about James Paxton?  He has a lot of room for improvement.  He can pitch considerably better than he did in July.  He really didn't have his whole game together last month; for example, I have no idea why he can't always throw a little cutter at the knees when he wants to.  But we'll take what he can give us while he's figuring things out.


Dr D




We don't have the *next* Felix; he's already here. Amazing.

If we can cobble togeter a rotation of 3s from here on out, after Zeus himself, we truly have nothing to complain about. Granted, I'd strongly prefer a two-headed monster with at least a #2 behind Paxton - Tanaka or Otani woudl thrill my heart - but give me solid stability after our ace and I'm happy.


When I opined that Zeus might be able to run a 1.xx ERA in the AL, I was thinking more along the lines of 1.85-1.97. Anything more would be close to impossible, I should think. But watching him mechanically rampage through lineups, I don't see why a little luck and some massive UZR numbers in the outfield couldn't lead to one season in the high ones.

It's like watching Hannibal eliminate Roman legions out there. You know he used the same collapsing-V trick in all of his biggest victories? Once you've got a stratagem that is unbeatable (like 97 on the hands), the only question is how long you can remain in the field...


When I was a kid, Frank Tanana said his ERA would be "zero plus" if he didn't give up so many homers due to his constant strikes.  Of course he meant 0.99 or whatever.

As y'know I wasn't (and am not) really challenging any sabe who wonders about a *possible* 1.95 ERA for James Paxton in Safeco.  Sure it's possible.  Sale ran a 2.17 for the White Sox a few years back -- eerily similar K/BB/HR and more hitter-friendly conditions.  Maddux ran 1.56 and 1.63 in consecutive years (!!) in Atlanta.  etc.

Yours and Matt's "one-plus ERA" flavor text is really just a way to say that James Paxton is threatening to enter BUZZSAW mode, where the hitters game in, game out don't have much chance.  In July he was actually *there* as a buzzsaw already, and I insist he can throw considerably better than he just did...

:- )


I figure once we establish that Zeus can run a 1.40 for a month when he's on each time he pitches, and that a tall lefty who throws 98 can run a 2.17 in the AL in the modern era, we can logically infer that Pax has a not insignificant chance of hitting 1.97 some year. If he's at the pinacle of his game and he gets a little lucky. Kinda like Ichiro always had a not insignificant chance of hitting .400 some year. Of course he never did it, and Pax will probably never enter Pedro territory, but it's a fun plotline to follow. The kind of thing that baseball dreams are made of. 

If Zeus stays healthy for thirty starts a year, next ~seven years, what would you say the odds are? I figure, like, 10%? Really just guessing though.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.