From Bloomberg’s R.J. Anderson:
Lee is averaging a little over seven innings per start, which totals 36.2 innings pitched. He’s struck out 32 batters and walked one. That would be a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 32, which is simply unheard of. The best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history (for pitchers with at least 100 innings in a single season) is 11 – posted by Brett Saberhagen in 1994. Ben Sheets’ 2006 season is the only other case of a double-digit strikeout-to-walk rate for a starting pitcher with at least 100 IP.
Wow. Saberhagen and Sheets defined what control is all about, and Cliff Lee is on pace to place himself in some elite company. So outside of Lee, what other starters in the major leagues has a commanding strikeout-to-walk ratio? After looking at the top 50+ strikeout pitchers in 2010, here are the current leaders:
Pitcher Strikeouts Walks Ks/Walk Ratio
Cliff Lee 32 1 32.00
John Ely 32 6 5.33
Carl Pavano 41 8 5.125
Jamie Shields 71 14 5.07
Dan Haren 76 15 5.06
Now that’s fantastic company for John Ely at this point in the season. There’s obviously a long, long way to go this year, but given that we’re 29% of the way through the season, it’s worth pointing out how Ely’s success on the mound compares to his fellow starters.
Here’s a little more from A.J. Anderson on Cliff Lee, and his phenomenal strikeout-to-walk ratio:
Aside from Saberhagen and Sheets, Curt Schilling is the only other pitcher to break the 9 K/BB barrier, which is fitting. During Schilling’s later years with the Diamondbacks, ESPN would always joke about whether Schilling’s win total would exceed his walk total. Now, Schilling never actually accomplished the feat, but Lee very well could. In fact, Lee actually has more wins (two) than walks at this moment – and given his performance to date, should have more wins, if not for lousy run support and other factors beyond his control.
Thinking ahead to the trading deadline, what better role model could a young John Ely have than a true ace that is also known for his control? Food for thought.