Zeus the #171 Starting Pitcher in Baseball
BJOL hasn't yet noticed the forward lean


Gnatto has a fun little philosophical question for us:


Matt, if Paxton continues this standard of pitching for 20 more years... When did the upgrade happen?


Or for five more years, like Sandy Koufax.  Same question applies.  Three ways of looking at it:



I've always been fascinated by the way that no-name players can function as HOF'ers in any particular game, or week, or month.  In 2014, Dallas Keuchel took off out of the gate pitching as well as, say, Felix Hernandez.  In a given three-game set that year, we had a huge advantage on paper.  On the green grass of the field, we had absolutely no real advantage in a Felix-Keuchel matchup.

There were years I didn't quite get that the young Bernie Williams was, in essence, cancelling out Ken Griffey Jr.

In my youth, I was a huge Miami Dolphins fan, and didn't grok the way Mark Van Eeghen was providing the Raiders a 90% cancellation of superstar Larry Csonka.  And he seemed like only a supporting player, behind Ken Stabler and Fred Biletnikoff and etc.  I figured, they got Stabler, but we got Csonka.  They actually had Stabler AND Csonka, but the perception didn't jibe with the reality.

Right now that's happening, to some extent, with Rougned Odor vs. Robinson Cano - Odor is slugging .479 and hurting us constantly.  But it doesn't seem, going in to the next Ranger series, like those two players will cancel each other out.  They may, though.


Bill James Online has Paxton as only the #171 ranked starting pitcher as of this morning.  Probably the Houston Astros fans feel like Lance McCullers gives them the edge in a James Paxton game.  How wrong they are.

From the standpoint of "when was Randy Johnson functioning as a stopper?"   The answer was, in retrospect, Opening Day 1993 -- 8 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 14K.  But he walked a lot of guys his next two starts, was 3-2 3.57 after six starts, and as he rained bloody death during 1993 nobody bought in.  After he finished 19-8, 3.24 (in the Kingdome!) with 308 strikeouts, people started to wonder.  But all that year, he'd been Randy Johnson.

Taking it to the extreme, Friday night, Adam Lind functioned as a 162-homer man.  For any given series, if a player slugs .700 for three games, he has provided you Lou Gehrig.



There's added value, though, to having the mystique of a Chris Sale or Cole Hamels.  When the league BUYS IN to a dominant ace, it has an impact on the game.  The hitters are more defensive, the manager changes his lineup, a Ranger series has a different "script" to it psychologically, and so forth.

Yankees fans used to laugh about the way the Mariners "bought in" to Pedro Martinez' invincibility.  Pedro had a losing record against the Yankees, if I recall correctly, and fans thought of it as a curse.  We'd go in hanging our heads for the beheading and Pedro would oblige.

Supposing that James Paxton throws pitches just like these for the next year, three years, and maintains his current #1 position in xFIP ... when do people buy in?  About next June, June 2017.  If then.



In Strat-O-Matic, I'd probably start James Paxton next week in the WC game over Felix.  But the Mariners are giving Felix what, one MILLION dollars?  The suits are married to him, and the clubhouse is his.  Who you and I might think has the best chance of winning, ain't going to have anything to do with Felix' rank and preminence for the duration of his contract.  ... well, unless he had a Jered Weaver falloff or something.



There was a lot made, even by Servais, of Paxton's need to get GROWF on the mound, to pound his mitt after escaping from a rally.  Dr. D smiles wrly at this.  Like Earl said, after a guy starts winning he seems to have gained the "winner" mentality.  Then he goes back to a losing team and his character flaws emerge again...

Jim Palmer, Mike Mussina, Bob Griese, George Gervin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robinson Cano :- ) ... it's just not in their nature to play angry.  Back in the day, Edgar Martinez was considered to have problems with clutch hitting ...

Personally I enjoy Paxton's attitude, like "It's just a game.  I'll give you my 100%, but we ain't pulling kids out of burning buildings here."  With some athletes, this unflappability -- even detachment - is considered a great strength.

I DIG that about James Paxton.



Not to duck the question, who's "better," Paxton or Felix?  In Dr. D's mind, after 5 games' worth of Zeusian performance?

Lots of times, pitchers turn out to be up and down on their velocity.  This was never a question with the Unit or with Justin Verlander, but it is for most guys, like Kershaw.  If you could guarantee that Paxton is going to maintain this velocity, 95-98 MPH, I'll take Paxton over Felix, trade you Felix for him right now in rotisserie.  No other preconditions other than continued velocity; the foshball is there, as is the fastball inside.   Grant me a clause that I can trade back, if the velo sinks to 91-95, and I'll swap you.

What's the chance of 96+ MPH from here to the wire?  70%?

If his velocity is going to be NEXT level, 98-100 MPH, then I'll take Paxton over anybody in the AL.  Easily.





Doc said,

"There's added value, though, to having the mystique of a Chris Sale or Cole Hamels.  When the league BUYS IN to a dominant ace, it has an impact on the game.  The hitters are more defensive, the manager changes his lineup, a Ranger series has a different "script" to it psychologically, and so forth."

I think hitters.....AL hitters....reached this point TWO years ago.  In essence, "Oh snap, we get Paxton again!!"

GM's generally "get it" in terms trade/swap value. Is there a GM in the league who would give their #4 for Paxton...in about 0.3 seconds?

And then you move on to the question of #3's.  Soon you hit the idea of a free (essentially) Paxton vs. the big $X millions you pay for your #3, and what that could buy you in terms of other shiny baubbles.

GM's are all over Paxton.

Fans always want tomorrow's performance today....or yesterday.  

Paxton has had 35 MLB starts.  If you use 5 innings/3 ER's as sort of a standard, below whichhe had a bad start, then Paxton has had decent starts 29 times.  29/35 ain't chopped liver, guys.

He's had a 2.2 inning/8 ER start; a 6.1 inning/5 ER start; 2.2 innings/7 ER start;4.2 innings/3 ER start, a 3.2 innings/3 ER start, and a 1.2 innings/2 ER start.

Well he had a 4.2 innings/2 ER start.....but I'll give him that one as a "not bad" start.

So....What do we want?  Felix had 31 starts last year and 4 of them didn't meet that kind of scale.

Paxton, over his career, has essentially been what Felix was last year.  

So....what is the concern?

Give him the ball...every five days.  Get out of his way.  Pleeeeeze.


"Give him the ball...every five days.  Get out of his way.  Pleeeeeze."

Can you honestly point to one post by ANY person on this site that says anything else? You guys have somehow built up this bizarre idea that people hate Paxton or dismiss his talent. The only thing - ONLY THING - keeping Paxton from pitching every five days is James Paxton. Yeah, he's made 35 starts and has been great over those starts. Unsaid, of course, is that it took him FOUR seasons to make those 35 starts.

And this isn't an Edgar situation, where he's been wasting away in AAA - they guy simply cannot stay healthy. So sure, run him out there every five days and enjoy every start - I certainly will. Just don't plan on him being on the mound this October (or next), 'cause there is nothing in his history that suggestst that he will be there. I truly hope that the guy can stay healthy and give the club 30 starts per year for the next ten years. But I wouldn't bet a single dollar on that happening. 

It would be nice to see him pitch a full season or three before we start sizing him up for his HOF bust, no? 


Can you honestly point to one post by any person on this site that says anything other than Paxton might get hurt?

:- )

We've got tons of middle ground here.  It's like 4% of the territory we disagree on.  And I'm not "debating" any person on this site; I'm just wallowing in how sweet it is to finally getting some payoff here - and payoff beyond what even I expected, in terms of the stuff.  True, elsewhere around Seattle there are a lot of people who still don't see what's coming.

Take a breath, dude.


Supposing you compare Paxton to other 1st-year* starters who looked as overwhelming as Paxton does right now ... Strasburg, Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Matt Moore, Kerry Wood, Francisco Liriano, Noah Syndergaard, CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett, whatever...

How many of the list of 10 make the Hall of Fame?  Maybe 1.   ... or perhaps 3, or perhaps 0.  Everybody gets it that with 15 career wins, the chances of getting to 250 are long odds.


One thing we DO disagree on, is our assessment of Paxton's fragility.  I think there's a big difference between shoulder impingement, elbow ligaments, etc., as opposed to a foot injury here, a rib injury there, etc.  Especially for a Verlander type who is throwing his hardest after 100 pitches!

But most pitchers do get hurt.  You're most likely right if you bet on any young pitcher to hit injury before greatness.


I was not pointing to anybody here, at all.

Hey, Servais/Dipoto and the previous regime were slow to just arrive at the "Every 5 Day's" rule.  

I do feel that there exists in the M's-world a feeling that since Paxton isn't a "finished product" yet then he needs more "finishing."

I'm pretty adamant about pointing out he's pretty dang good as is.  Let him get polished in Safco and Fenway, not in Las Vegas.

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