By: Brian Mangan
I am so tired of hearing the same old complaints from fans about the attention given to Matt Harvey. I don’t love talking about the guy — don’t have much to say about him until he gets back on the field — but the idea that he hasn’t proven anything yet is absurd. Yet I hear it, again and again and again…
Ok, we get it. Harvey got hurt, has 12 wins. But people care about him for a good reason — his meteoric entrance into MLB was amazing, and rare. How rare? Extremely rare.
I did a search for all pitchers since Expansion in 1961 to do the following: put up 200+ innings of ERA+ of 135 or better and a FIP better than 3.75 at the age of 24 of younger and there were only 11 players: Clayton Kershaw, Roger Clemens, Tom Seaver, Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, Roy Oswalt, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Francisco Liriano, Matt Morris, Mark Fidrych. Matt Harvey is 3rd on that list in ERA+, and 1st in FIP.
Perhaps you prefer old fashioned ERA rather than ERA+ or FIP? That’s fine. Only four pitchers put up an ERA of 2.50 or less over 200+ innings prior to turning 25 — Tom Seaver, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, and Jim Hardin in 1968.
How about we relax the ERA requirement to 3.00, but narrowed the list to include only pitchers who had a K/9 of 9+ and a K/BB of 3 or better? That list is even smaller, and even more spectacular. Only three pitchers have done this since Expansion: Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, and Stephen Strasburg. Expanding the K/9 requirement down to 8 K/9 and the K/BB requirement down to 2.5 only includes three additional pitchers: Dwight Gooden, Clayton Kershaw, and Roy Oswalt. Expanding the age requirement to include 25 year olds adds only one other name: Pedro Martinez.
Here’s the facts, dudes. Matt Harvey burst onto the scene and dominated like only a handful of pitchers have done in half a century. No matter which way you slice it — by ERA, FIP, strikeouts, K/BB — he has accomplished rare feats accompanied by only the greatest greats.
He has plenty to do, and plenty to prove, and it will be a Herculean feat to come back and continue to perform at such a high level. But pretending there ain’t a reason to talk about him? That’s ludicrous.
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Brian Mangan is an attorney living in New York City.