The kid lays golden goose eggs like no other rookie, excepting Tanaka if he counts.
Beating a dead horse here, I know.
James Paxton: 14 career starts: Average game = 6 innings/4.3 hits allowed/4.8K's/1.8BB's/ 93.4 pitches thrown/57.8 strikes/16 strikes looking and 8 strikes swinging
Last night he was 6 innings/4 hits/8 K's/3 BB's/103 pitches/57 strikes/17 looking and 8 swinging.
Basically he was absolutely "average" (for him) last night. Well, his strike % fell from 63% to 56% and he walked an extra guy, but he was "effectively wild" as he K'ed 8, a number he has only exceeded twice.
We want to think that a flame-throwing lefty like Paxton should be K'ing guys left and right, like Koufax, at this point in his career. Koufax was ringing up about 10 guys per 9 innings, after all. Paxton is "only" K'ing 7.3 for his career.
But you know what? The Big Unit struck out eggggggg-zactly 7.3 guys per 9 in his age 25 season. And he walked twice as many guys as Paxton does. And gave up more hits.
J-Pax isn't really "struggling," he's learning. I looked at Johnson's 18-2 Cy Young year in '95 with Seattle. A quick glance seems to show that he threw about 67% of his pitches for strikes. He seemed to get (on the average) about 23 strikes looking and about 18 swinging every game, but he was throwing 125 pitches or so. Give Paxton the extra 30 pitches and he gets up to 21 strikes looking and 12 swinging. In '95 The Big Unit gave up 6.7 hits/9 and 2.7 BB's/9. Paxton's numbers are 6.5 and 2.8. OK, the Unit K'ed 12 guys and Paxton doesn't do that. But Johnson had built up to that, starting eggggg-zactly where J-Pax is at age 25.
So Paxton was egggggg-zactly "average" for him last night....and that "average" is dang near egggggg-zactly Randy Johnson's 18-2 Cy Young year in '95, take away some K's and an extra inning a game (Johnson averaged 7.1 per start that year: 214 innings in 30 starts).
OK, Paxton isn't a guy (yet) with the laser-guided precision of a Felix or Kuma and I think that is why it is easy to see him as "struggling" a bit. But in reality, he's just pretty flat-out dominant. Last night was nearly his "average" start. OK, he walked one more guy, but he K'ed a couple of more, too. And his "average" career start is pretty much just what The Big Unit did in his one Cy year in Seattle.
Are there 10 better starters in the game, right now, than Johnson in '95? Uh......Nope.
Are there 7? Is Kuma? Uh........No and no.
Go back and look at David Price's Cy Young year in '12. That's egggggg-zactly how good Paxton is right now.
After Felix and Kershaw, is there any pitcher in the game you would rather have going in to '15 than James Paxton?
Kershaw, I say? He's a lock to win a 3rd Cy this year...it is an amazing year. He has a WHIP of .818 and a K/BB of 7.78. Felix has never had a year close to that (He's .915 and 5.29 this year). Randy Johnson never had a year like that. Bob Gibson in '68 was .85 and 4.32.....and they changed the rules because of Gibson's '68. Maddux's '95 is the same kind of year. He was 19-2 that year with a .81 and 7.87. Koufax's '65 was .855 and 5.38. OK, he only allowed 5.8 hits'9 that year and Kershaw is getting smashed to the tune of 6.0/9!!!
Kershaw is basically establishing himself as one of the All-Time greats. He's that good.
But go back and look at Kershaws non-Cy '12, which was still a dang fine year. He gave up 6.7 hits/9, 2.5 BB's and a 1.03 WHIP. That's egggggg-zactly Paxton for his brief career. OK, Kershaw struck out 9.1 vs. our guy's 7.3. Paxton ain't Sidd Finch, I suppose.
But when you look at the numbers of Paxtons very brief career and compare them to some better-than-middling arms..........it is fairly easy to say, "Oh my!"
Have a Happy Felix Day Orcs! It is egggggg-zactly possible that it might be more pleasurable than yesterday!
That's a whale of a point. In terms of ML value, performance vs contract, and high-percentage success x upside ... Paxton is obviously at the point Strasburg, Lincecum, Verlander, etc. were after 10-15 starts.
I don't know what it is about the Seattle blog-o-sphere that soft-pedals this kid so weirdly. If Paxton were a Yankee or Red Sox, he'd be headlining SportsCenter every five days.