There are a number of terrific pitchers in the American League who have garnered much attention in recent years.
Last season, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners was the top dog, earning the AL Cy Young in spite of a 13-12 record. The year before, the honor went to Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke, who posted a 16-8 record and won it in a landslide over last year’s winner, Hernandez.
Other pitchers have gained accolades in recent years, but one pitcher has consistently flown under the radar when it comes to talking about the elite pitchers in the American League: Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver.
Last season, Weaver’s numbers were eerily similar to those of Hernandez. Both finished with a 13-12 record, both pitchers had exactly 34 starts, both had almost the exact same number of strikeouts, with Weaver just edging Hernandez for the AL lead, 233-232. And both had WHIPs under 1.10 (Hernandez 1.057, Weaver 1.074).
Both pitchers also shined for teams that were woeful offensively. The Mariners scored the lowest amount of runs for a team in a single season since the advent of the designated hitter in 1973, while the Angels scored a full 202 runs fewer than the previous season.
Yet King Felix reigns supreme when it comes to the discussion of the best pitchers in the American League, while Weaver, who has compiled a 64-39 record with a 3.55 earned run average in five seasons, quietly goes about the business of great pitching without the accolades.
Bleacher Report will look into possible reasons as to why Jered Weaver appears to not gain a whole lot of respect outside of the Los Angeles area, and whether or not there is a conspiracy theory in effect.
Well, no, my name is not Oliver Stone, so we’ll just forget that last part.
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Over the past nine seasons, southpaws in the American League have literally been masterful. Between the years 2002-2007, five left-handers won the AL Cy Young Award (Barry Zito, Johan Santana twice, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia), and last year, lefties David Price, Sabathia and Jon Lester finished directly behind Felix Hernandez in the Cy Young award balloting.
While Weaver was certainly impressive in spite of poor run support last season for the Los Angeles Angels, with the exception of King Felix, the lefties ruled the roost. And that may not change anytime soon.
One of the first visions that grabs a viewer’s mind when watching a pitcher is their mound presence.
Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson looked like he wanted to bite the heads off of every batter he ever faced. Three-time Cy Young award-winner Pedro Martinez had the same kind of attacking demeanor.
Felix Hernandez is a hulking presence on the mound. At 6'3'' and weighing at least 225 pounds, he looks like he could hurt people. Same with CC Sabathia, at 6'7'' inches and just south of 300 pounds.
However, Weaver, while he stands at 6’7”, weighs at least 20 pounds less than Hernandez. While he has a knack for getting hitters out, he doesn’t exactly bring fear to hitters based on his presence. He looks more like a surfer dude.
Here is my way of thinking on this one. Think Oscars, here.
All of the actors and directors who are looking to plug their performances or their films actively engage in a public relations firm to market their work accordingly. When it gets close to Oscar time, all of the trade publications are spouting off about how this one or that one is so deserving of winning an Academy Award.
What, you don’t think that happens in baseball? Agents are plugging their star players every day to anyone that will listen.
Heck, if Felix Hernandez can win the AL Cy Young with almost identical numbers as Jered Weaver, and Hernandez is in Seattle, out of the public eye, then why couldn’t Weaver have won in the LA area, where all the stars hang out? Must have had bad PR peeps. That’s my guess.
When pitcher Jeff Weaver was released by the Los Angeles Angels in June 2006 after posting a 3-10 record with a 6.29 earned run average, he was ironically replaced on the roster by his younger brother, Jered Weaver.
Little bro Jered went on to finish the season with the Angels, posting an 11-2 record and a spectacular 2.56 ERA, earning him a fifth-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting.
However, his older brother was nicknamed “The Flake,” and was routinely seen moping around clubhouses, especially during his time under the bright lights in New York with the Yankees and in Los Angeles during his short tenure with the Dodgers.
Do people associate Jered Weaver with his older brother? Just throwing it out there.
I know, I said I wouldn’t morph into Oliver Stone with this piece; however, it does seem that Jered Weaver often doesn’t get enough credit for being an elite pitcher.
The surfer dude already has a lifetime postseason ERA of 2.61, proving he can pitch in any situation. With almost the exact same numbers as Hernandez last year, Weaver still finished far below him in the Cy Young voting.
Now, I’m not one to call for the reopening of the JFK files, nor am I looking for the secrets of the Da Vinci Code.
However, it does seem a bit odd that Weaver would finish so far behind Hernandez in last year’s voting with almost identical stats.
Seriously, it is my belief that Jered Weaver is indeed one of the elite pitchers in the American League, and one day, his time will come.
As soon as the Oliver Stone-types drop the investigations, that is.