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Roy Halladay highlighted the "Year of the Pitcher" in 2010, throwing both a no-hitter and a perfect game.
2010 truly was a remarkable year for pitching.
In the regular season, Roy Hallady and Oakland's Dallas Braden each threw perfect games, and Detroit's Armando Galarraga nearly threw another before losing it with two outs in the ninth inning on a blown call by first base umpire, Jim Joyce. A notch below perfection, Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez, then-Arizona Diamondbacks' starter Edwin Jackson and Tampa Bay's Matt Garza each threw a no-hitter. Halladay would then extend the "Year of the Pitcher" into the postseason, throwing the first postseason no-hitter since Don Larson's "playoff perfecto" in 1956.
And those were just the major accomplishments.
The combined ERA of all Major League Baseball teams was 4.07, and that includes the Pittsburgh Pirates' staff, who posted the worst ERA in baseball at an even 5.00. The San Francisco Giants carried their "Year of the Pitcher" into the postseason, where their staff of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner led the Giants to a world title.
In fact, the only two teams to make the playoffs and not finish in the Top 10 in ERA were the Cincinnati Reds, who were on the opposing end of that Halladay no-hitter, and the New York Yankees, who battled injuries in their rotation throughout the season, forcing them to send starters like Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, and Dustin Moselely to the hill at various times throughout the year—and they still finished with an ERA of 4.06 in a very tough American League East.
Hitters managed a batting average of just .257 in 2010, posting near exact averages in the American League (.258) and the National League (.257). Keeping that batting average down was an insane amount of strikeouts. More than 33,000 hitters were set down on strikes in 2010, with the league average per team at 1144. Proving that this was the year of the pitcher, the team that led both of those categories, batting average against and strikeouts, would walk away as World Champions.
Ruben Amaro believes that championship teams are built around pitching and defense, and recent champions prove that his theory is well rooted.
In 2008, his Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series largely thanks to a great offense, but it was the strength of his starting rotation, headlined by now "ace No. 4," Cole Hamels, who would be named both NLCS and WS MVP, after going 4-0 with an ERA of 1.80, and a dominant bullpen headlined by "Lights Out" Lidge, on his way to a perfect season.
The 2009 New York Yankees made it through the postseason on the backs of three great pitchers in their own right: CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and of course, legendary closer Mariano Rivera. The 2010 San Francisco Giants continued the tradition by doing much of the same, throwing a young ace with two Cy Young Awards already under his belt and a closer that led the league in saves.
So if we can expect much of the same from pitchers in 2011 as we witnessed in 2010, Amaro has assembled an elite squad. If, as he reaffirmed at Lee's press conference on Wednesday, championships are won around pitching and defense, the Phillies are in a great position to be the best team in the National League in 2011—they have four legitimate aces rotating throughout the season, a very underrated back of the bullpen, and a defense playing behind them that committed only 83 errors in 2010, good enough for the league's sixth best fielding percentage at .986.