Oakland Athletics' A.J. Griffin: Most Underrated Pitcher in MLB

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Oakland Athletics' A.J. Griffin: Most Underrated Pitcher in MLB
Harry How/Getty Images

June 24, 2012. 

That was the day that Oakland A's rookie pitcher A.J. Griffin's dream of pitching in the big leagues came true. 

From his debut all the way up to the gem he tossed last night (Wednesday) against the Angels, Griffin has been tormenting major league hitters every start. 

The 24-year-old has made 11 career starts since that first outing and has yet to receive a loss, going 6-0 in that span. Those six straight wins to begin his career make him only the third pitcher in Oakland A's history to accomplish that feat. 

Though Griffin himself has only earned six decisions, the team has gone 9-2 overall on days that he is the starter. In his defense, during one of the two losses he left the game with a shoulder injury after only 1.2 innings pitched. Oh, and in the other he allowed zero runs on two hits.

How is it that the rookie hasn't ran into a loss by now?

Besides the fact that the A's have been one of the best teams in baseball since his call-up, it might also have something to do with him posting a 1.94 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .202 batting average against him. 

Even though most starters have a little more than double the amount of games as Griffin, his BAA is lower than any of today's biggest aces. The closest players to him are Gio Gonzalez (.206), Clayton Kershaw (.212) and Justin Verlander (.216). 

You know you're doing something right if you're beating out names like that.

Griffin's ERA speaks for itself. The best in baseball right now out of qualified players is David Price at 2.54, and he is in the discussion, if not the front runner, for the AL Cy Young. 

Any time a player's ERA is sub-2.00, it should open some eyes. Especially if that player has made double-digit starts. 

If you're looking for a weak spot in his season, good luck. His worst game of the year came against the Twins in his fourth start. He gave up a season high eights hit, while allowing three runs, another season high. The two homers he allowed that game make up almost half of the total he's given up this year (five).

Even with the "rough" outing, Minnesota couldn't knock Griffin down, as he picked up his first career win that night. 

Because of his late debut, Griffin can't rightfully be considered for any major awards such as the Cy Young, though his numbers in his short tenure are good enough. And with Mike Trout just down the road in L.A., who has all but actually been handed the Rookie of the Year trophy, Griffin won't get much recognition for that either. 

Just like the A's though, the big right-hander will just have to continue to fly under the radar, shocking the world one win at a time.

 

*Stats are from ESPN.com. 

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