Gio: 5'11" strikeout artist
According to government data, the average American male stands 5’9” tall. The average MLB pitcher is considerably taller, at over 6’2“.
Yet, as with many things, there are notable exceptions to the rule. Some of MLB's top starters and closers this season are not much taller than the rest of us average American males.
Turn the page for five of 2012’s best pitchers who are listed at 5’11” or shorter.
The 5’11” southpaw Gio Gonzalez has been a revelation for the rejuvenated Nationals. Having escaped the dreary confines of the Oakland Coliseum, Gio is having a career year so far in the NL East.
He has a stellar 6-1 record, with some gaudy stats: a 1.98 ERA and a league-leading 69 strikeouts in 54.2 innings pitched. Only Justin Verlander has fanned more opposing batters. And, Gio has an MLB-best .167 BAA.
Gio’s splendid first quarter has helped propel the Nats to the NL East lead.
The Astros were everyone’s preseason pick to lose about 100 games and finish dead last in the NL Central. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the bottom, as Houston finds itself in third place, just three games behind the Reds.
A big part of the Astros’ success has been the starting pitching, led by the 5’11" veteran lefty, Wandy Rodriguez.
While Wandy’s W-L record is a modest 4-4, he’s posted a sparkling 2.14 ERA (nearly two runs lower than his career ERA), along with a 3:1 K/BB ratio, and a .234 BAA. In his four losses, the Astros scored a total of four runs.
If Houston’s outfielders can heat up to match the offensive output of the infield, Wandy's run support could improve, and he could have a surprisingly successful summer. Look out, NL Central.
The Reds’ Johnny Cueto is listed at 5’10”. For most of April and May, he’s been a giant for first place Cincy.
Cueto went 9-5 in 2011, tossing three complete games and holding opponents to a measly .220 BAA.
This season, the Dominican native sports a 5-2 record, with a 2.53 ERA and K/BB ratio of nearly 3:1. Reds fans must hope that his last three starts, where he has allowed three homers and 13 earned runs in 15.2 innings, are a mere aberration in what is otherwise shaping up as a career year.
While the first quarter of the MLB season has been calamitous for many closers, the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel has stood out for his late-inning consistency and dominance.
The 5’11” Kimbrel led the NL in 2011 with 46 saves. He’s on pace for an even better 2012, having converted 13 of 14 save opportunities, second only to Jonathan Papelbon among NL closers.
Kimbrel has struck out 25 in 16 innings, holding opponents to a .175 BAA and no homers allowed. He'll need to maintain his lights out form if the Braves are to contend in the competitive NL East.
While Craig Kimbrel is again the NL’s most dependable closer, over in the AL one of the saves leaders is 5’10” Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Rodney, he of the slightly tilted cap, is second in the AL with 15 saves in 15 tries. He has allowed only one earned run all season, giving him a microscopic 0.38 ERA, and he’s struck out nearly a batter per inning while issuing just three walks in 23 appearances.
The 35-year-old Rodney wasn’t even slated to be the Rays’ closer this season. Kyle Farnsworth’s elbow injury opened the door for Rodney, whose remarkable performances have helped the Rays stay near the top of the crowded AL East.