Sunday, June 29, 2008

For What It's Worth (Edinson Volquez Is Still Good)

If you considered murdering yourself with a knife or gun after Edinson Volquez's first dud as a Red, I found something on Buster Olney's blog that might buoy your spirits:

I e-mailed 25 players, scouts and executives this week asking for a response to one simple question: Who are the five most dominant starting pitchers in the game right now? I tabulated the number of times anyone was mentioned on a ballot (and counted the dimpled and hanging chads).

The results:

No. 5: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds (eight votes) -- He mixes a mid-90s fastball with a changeup that seems to disappear. He has 110 strikeouts in 99.1 innings this year, with a 2.08 ERA.

No. 4: Rich Harden, Oakland Athletics (nine votes): In his start against the Phillies on Thursday, he consistently threw in the 93-94 mph range in all eight innings he worked, and Philadelphia seemed to have no chance when he used his changeup -- the off-speed pitch he prefers now, since ditching his splitter. A no-hitter seemed within the realm of possibility, writes Susan Slusser. Harden has 83 punchouts in 67 innings.

No. 3: Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox (11 votes): He has struck out 82 hitters in 72 2/3 postseason innings, and this year -- in which he has not necessarily been at his best -- he has 97 strikeouts in 94 innings.

No. 2: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants (14 votes): He has been in the big leagues for about a year and has made an extraordinary first impression, racking up 103 strikeouts in 102.2 innings this season.

No. 1: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (16 votes). He has pitched well this season and early in his career, but there is a still a sense that he has much more to offer as he gains consistency. He has 95 strikeouts in 107.2 innings, with a 2.83 ERA.

By the way, is anything more interesting than anonymous player polls? Sports Illustrated does there part but I still feel like this is a relatively untapped area. Have you ever not read an anonymous player poll?

New podcasts are on the way. In the meantime, check out the latest batch.)

-Brad Spieser (