Detroit Tigers: Max Scherzer Starts Strong but Why Are Some Surprised?

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Detroit Tigers: Max Scherzer Starts Strong but Why Are Some Surprised?
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Max Scherzer pitched another solid game against the Blue Jays last night.

He improved his record to 6-0 for the season by pitching five innings and allowing two runs on five hits, three walks, one home run and five strikeouts. Scherzer currently possesses a 3.20 ERA, down from 3.50 last season.

But why are some members of the national media surprised?

I would argue that he has been one of the most consistent pitchers over the last few seasons. This doesn't mean that Scherzer is on the same tier as Roy Halladay, but he is the perfect example of how external factors can influence the perception of a pitcher's season.

Scherzer did not warrant the same attention in 2009 because of his unspectacular ERA of 4.12 and 9-11 record. However, Scherzer's xFIP of 3.82 indicated that he should have had more success, but his below average strand rate of 68.7 percent hindered his success. 

Scherzer's 2011 xFIP of 3.74 is similar to his 2010 number of 3.68. His peripherals remained remarkably similar since becoming a full-time major league starter. 

Year

ERA

xFIP

K/9

BB/9

Strand%

HR/FB

BABIP

GB%

2009

4.12

3.82

9.19

3.33

68.7 %

10.4 %

.308

41.8 %

2010

3.50

3.68

8.46

3.22

74.9 %

9.6 %

.297

40.3 %

2011

3.20

3.74

9.06

4.09

88.8 %

12.9 %

.301

38.4 %

If anything, Scherzer's 2011 season raises more white flags. Scherzer's velocity has dropped from 93.1 mph last season to 92.3 (though his velocity has been steadily increasing), and his swinging strike percentage has dropped from 9.4 to 8.6. The increased walk total has not affected Scherzer's ERA because of his unsustainable 88.8 percent strand rate. 

(On a side note, Scherzer's is throwing his slider with more downward movement and its average velocity has dropped from 84.1 to 79.6 mph.)

Since last season, Scherzer has compiled a WAR higher than Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, Brett Myers and Trevor Cahill.

I'm ecstatic that the media has caught up with Scherzer's success, just disappointed that it took this record for the national media to take notice. 

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