All-Star Alex Wood Is 10-0 After Being Traded for 3 Players out of MLB

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 23:  Alex Wood #57 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on June 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Success, as they say, is the best revenge. On that front, Alex Wood has got it covered.

On July 30, 2015, the Atlanta Braves sent Wood to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a hopelessly complicated three-team trade that also involved the Miami Marlins.

The Braves netted three players in that deal: Cuban third baseman/outfielder Hector Olivera, left-hander Paco Rodriguez and right-hander Zachary Bird.

Olivera was suspended for 82 games in the spring of 2016 after being arrested on domestic-violence charges and was cut loose by Atlanta. Bird pitched for Atlanta's High-A team in 2016 but posted an 8.87 ERA and hasn't thrown an affiliated inning since. Rodriguez hasn't played for an affiliated club since 2015.

Strip away the rest of the noise from that tradewhich also involved creaky throw-ins such as outfielder Michael Morse and veteran hurlers Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos—and you're left with Wood.

None of the players traded for Alex Wood have made an MLB impact.
None of the players traded for Alex Wood have made an MLB impact.Harry How/Getty Images

The 26-year-old left-hander was almost an egregious All-Star snub before he was named to the National League squad as a replacement for teammate/demigod Clayton Kershaw, who is ineligible after pitching Sunday.

Wood undeniably deserves the honor. He's got a 1.62 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 80.2 innings. His 2.03 FIP suggests his performance is sustainable and untainted by luck.

Perhaps most impressively, even in this era where the "win" stat for pitchers has been devalued, he owns an unblemished 10-0 record. Forget sabermetrics for a moment; undefeated is undefeated.

Then again, we can use the newfangled stats to show Wood's value as well. His 3.2 WAR, by FanGraphs' measure, is tied for fifth-best in baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays' Chris Archer.

The only hurlers ahead of him are the Cleveland Indians' Corey Kluber (3.4), Kershaw (3.7), the Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer (4.4) and the Boston Red Sox's Chris Sale (5.3). That's a Cy Young Award short list with a burly, clipboard-toting bouncer manning the door.

Wood is in the running with teammate Clayton Kershaw for best WAR in the National League.
Wood is in the running with teammate Clayton Kershaw for best WAR in the National League.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

Drafted in the second round by Atlanta in 2012 out of the University of Georgia, Wood made his MLB debut the following year, posting a 3.13 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 77.2 innings.

He was bursting with potential when the Dodgers acquired him, but he made only 10 starts last season while battling an elbow injury that ultimately required surgery. 

When Wood landed on the disabled list again in May with a shoulder issue, it was impossible to avoid the "injury-prone" chatter. He underwent Tommy John surgery post-high-school, after all, and has an unorthodox delivery.

Wood deflected those knocks, per MLB.com's Ken Gurnick:

"In college and the Draft, the way I threw always threw people off and I always told people, 'If you know anything about pitching, I have good mechanics. As long as you get there it doesn't matter how you get there.' From 2009 to 2016, I had a pretty clean record, and I got hurt last year swinging a bat. You get to the point where you wonder, 'When do people stop saying those things?' But at this stage, I try not to look into everything that everybody says."

Now, he's healthy and throwing like the Robin to Kershaw's Batman. That's not too shabby for a guy who opened the season in the bullpen.

Wood opened the season in the bullpen but has emerged as the Dodgers' possible No. 2.
Wood opened the season in the bullpen but has emerged as the Dodgers' possible No. 2.Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

In addition to his robust strikeout rate, a large chunk of Wood's success comes from keeping the ball on the ground, as Sports Illustrated's Michael Beller explained:

"His two-seam fastball is the foundation of everything he does, making up more than 50% of his total pitches on the year. From there, he works in a changeup and knuckle-curveball, both of which command about one-quarter of his pitches. The three offerings have helped make Wood one of the most dominant ground-ball and whiff artists in the league. Wood’s ground-ball rate is 63.5%, while his swinging-strike rate is 13.5%. Those rank second and seventh, respectively, in the majors. He’s the only pitcher in the league in the top 10 in both."

Given his age and the fact he plays his home games in the 20th most hitter-friendly yard in either league, according to ESPN's Park Factors statistic, it's reasonable to assume Wood will continue his dominant ways.

Will he stay undefeated? Probably not. Is he a deserving All-Star succeeding wildly by any definition? You bet.

And that is the best revenge. 


All statistics current as of Monday and courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.


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