MLB Power Rankings: Picking the Best Hitter-Pitcher Combo in the NL East
This report will be a slideshow ranking each NL East team's best pitcher-hitter combination, so there will be a total of five selections here. The pitcher can be a starter or a reliever, and the hitter can play any position.
5. Washington Nationals: Livan Hernandez-Jayson Werth
Not surprisingly, the biggest free agent signing made by the Nationals this offseason is going to make an appearance on here. Jayson Werth, who signed a seven-year, $126 million contract, batted .296 with 27 HR and 85 RBI last season. His OBP was .388 and SLG was .532.
Werth does have a good batting average and OBP, but he is a strikeout machine, accruing 147 strikeouts and 82 walks last season. However, he is definitely a highlight for the Nationals this coming season.
The best of the Nationals' rotation is Livan Hernandez, who had an ERA of 3.66 and a WHIP of 1.32. He had 114 strikeouts and 64 walks in 211.2 IP. His numbers were not awful for 2010, but he had a sub-.500 record at 10-12.
4. New York Mets: R.A. Dickey-David Wright
David Wright is definitely a shining star of the New York Mets. He batted .283 with 29 HR and 103 RBI in 2010. His OBP was .354 and SLG was .503, and he had 19 SB. He was walked 69 times, but, unfortunately, he struck out 161 times.
The Mets' pitching is strides above the Nationals'. A highlight of the Mets rotation is R.A. Dickey, who had an ERA of 2.84, going 11-9 in 2010. During his 174.1 IP, he had 104 strikeouts and 42 walks.
3. Florida Marlins: Josh Johnson-Hanley Ramirez
Josh Johnson is one of the best young aces in baseball today. In 2010, Johnson led the National League in starter's ERA with a 2.30 mark, going 11-6 along the way. During his 183.2 IP, he had 186 strikeouts and 48 walks with a WHIP of 1.11. If Johnson was in another division, he would very likely be found higher on a similar pitcher-hitter combination list than third.
Hanley Ramirez is the best hitter on the Marlins, who batted .300 in 2010 with 21 HR and 76 RBI. His OBP was .378 with a SLG of .475. He also had 93 strikeouts, 64 walks and 32 stolen bases.
The combination of these two players is definitely dynamic. They are slightly below the two combinations above them, yet far beyond those two below.
2. Atlanta Braves: Tim Hudson-Dan Uggla
Tim Hudson is a proven ace who had an ERA of 2.83 in 2010 with a 17-9 record. He had 139 strikeouts and 74 walks with a WHIP of 1.15 during his 228.2 IP. Hudson is easily the best Braves pitching choice for this report. He is a workhorse who will eat up a large amount of innings and maintain a low ERA.
Dan Uggla was acquired by the Braves this offseason from the Marlins, and he will be a definite offensive weapon for the Braves. This offensive choice for the Braves was tougher than some of the other teams, as Brian McCann or Jason Heyward could have easily been selected as well.
Uggla had an average of .287 in 2010 with 33 HR and 105 RBI with a .369 OBP. He struck out 149 times with 78 walks and four stolen bases.
1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay-Chase Utley
Roy Halladay is clearly the best choice to sit at the top of this list. He was the 2010 National League Cy Young winner, going 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 250.2 IP. He also had 219 strikeouts with 30 walks, pitching four shutouts total. Plus, you cannot leave out the perfect game he threw against the Marlins, or the no-hitter he threw against the Reds in the playoffs.
Selecting the offensive choice for the Phillies combination was difficult. Most of the regular starters spent a great deal of time on the disabled list in 2010.
Jimmy Rollins only played the equivalent of half a season last year, and he will likely bat for an average of about .250 for 2011.
Ryan Howard missed a large amount of time in 2010, but he still batted for an average of .276 with 31 HR and 108 RBI. I did not select Howard, because he is a strikeout machine at times, as he had 157 in 2010 with an OBP of .353.
I could have easily selected Carlos Ruiz, as he had the best average and on-base percentage of the team, but he did only hit eight home runs.
I chose Chase Utley for this combination. He also missed a great deal of time on the disabled list last season, but still had 16 HR and 65 RBI with 13 SB. Utley also had an OBP just shy of Ruiz's at .387.
One of the best facts about Utley is that he had only 63 strikeouts and 63 walks, which is a great ratio. Expect Utley to bounce back in 2011, coming close to his numbers in the seasons before 2010, where he hit 30+ HR and 90+ RBI.