Loading... Please wait...

John Dewan's Stat of the Week

Scherzer On Top

Posted by

On Friday night, Max Scherzer spun another gem with a 10-strikeout performance against the Mets in which he allowed one run over eight innings. With this outing, the remarkable has happened. Scherzer is now the No. 1 starting pitcher in Major League Baseball according to Bill James’ World’s #1 Starting Pitcher Rankings.

This isn’t the first time Scherzer has taken the top spot in the rankings, although it has been a while since his last visit there. In fact, it’s been more than a year—Clayton Kershaw has held the No. 1 ranking since July 7, 2015, when he took the spot back after Scherzer’s five-day reign. Since Kershaw first topped the leaderboard in May 2013, Scherzer is the only player to surpass him, doing so twice for a combined 40 days before Friday.

As it stands today, the two of them are stuck in a battle for the top spot, with the rest of the league trailing behind them. Here is the current top 10, while the full list can be viewed on Bill James Online.

Bill James' World's #1 Starting Pitcher Rankings
Rank Name Current Score
1 Max Scherzer 596.1
2 Clayton Kershaw 593.3
3 Chris Sale 563.8
4 Corey Kluber 542.1
5 Zack Greinke 530.0
6 Jon Lester 528.2
7 Madison Bumgarner 528.0
8 Justin Verlander 515.6
9 Carlos Martinez 510.7
10 Chris Archer 510.7

The rankings system is based on a pitcher’s Game Score, and although it weighs recent performances more heavily than past ones, it also considers the consistency and longevity of a pitcher over extended periods of time. A full explanation of the process can be found here at Bill James Online, although the basics of it are that for each game pitched, 3 percent of a pitcher’s total is taken away and 30 percent of his Game Score from that game is added to it. This results in approximately 63 percent of a pitcher’s total score being based on the past year, with the other 37 based on what he did before then.

Although Scherzer only recently passed Kershaw, the two have been close for a while now. Kershaw started the season with a score of 564.3, with Scherzer within striking distance at 550.6. Scherzer’s Game Score of 78 on Friday was enough to propel him to the top spot after weeks of catching up, taking advantage of Kershaw’s score of 59 against the Indians in his most recent start on Tuesday to finally make the move.

Naturally, there was some disagreement when Bill tweeted on Saturday about Scherzer’s ascent. For further discussion and an explanation behind the ranking, see Bill’s post here. Based on the response to that post, he also added another one today defending his choice of 3 percent decay in his system.

We Don't Need to Abolish the Shift

I was recently asked the following question by Mike Murphy (or as many know him, Murph), one of the premier sports radio hosts in Chicago for years: “I hear more talk again popping up of banning the shift. (MLB wants more hits, more excitement, etc.). Idea: You have Defensive Runs Saved. But, do you have [...]

Read More »

Who Will Throw the Next No-Hitter?

Over the weekend, Edinson Volquez threw his first career no-hitter. It was a special evening as the current Marlins and former Royals starter dedicated his performance to Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura. It was also a fascinating game from purely a baseball perspective. Volquez has had a bounce-back season following a rough [...]

Read More »

Twins Turnaround

Baseball Info Solutions has touched on the Minnesota Twins in a few different pieces of writing so far this season, including a previous Stat of the Week and an article on ESPN Insider (subscription required). However, what the Twins are doing on defense this season demands to be featured. It has been a [...]

Read More »

Disabled List Usage

This past offseason, MLB negotiated with the Players Association over a new collective bargaining agreement. Although it was one of the more minor changes from the new agreement, one issue included shortening the 15-day disabled list to 10 days. Despite being minor, this change has proven to transform how teams are treating player injuries and the disabled list this season [...]

Read More »

Who's Hot and Who's Not... According to Bill James

Several years ago, Bill James created a system that measures the ‘temperature’ of a player, which illustrates if his current hitting is hot or cold. Using the Fahrenheit temperature scale, players start at a room temperature of 72 degrees and increase or decrease based on their recent performance. Let’s look at the hottest hitters through [...]

Read More »

The Best and Worst Defensive Teams So Far

The Best and Worst Defensive Teams So FarWith almost a month of baseball behind us, we have gotten a glimpse at each team's defensive performance and how it might shape their season. Although it is on the earlier side to start making any definitive conclusions, it is still interesting to see where some team defenses [...]

Read More »

Shifts Happen

Two weeks of baseball are now in the books. Early-season standings continue to be unpredictable, but one thing that's not is the league's increasing use of shifts. Teams are currently on pace to shift a record number of times for the sixth consecutive season. Note that all shift totals referenced in this article are shifts [...]

Read More »

Young Guns in the Rotation

This season, with injuries to Sonny Gray, Daniel Mengden, and Chris Bassitt, the Oakland Athletics are turning to three players in their starting rotation with very little major league playing experience. These players include two rookies, Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara, and sophomore Andrew Triggs who only just exceeded rookie limits in 2016. Similarly, the [...]

Read More »

Out Ratio vs. Catch Probability

Earlier this month at both the Sloan Analytics Conference in Boston and the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, MLBAM’s StatCast team released details on a new statistic that they have started to report on flyballs to the outfield: Catch Probability. Catch Probability is a measure of how hard a catch is to make [...]

Read More »

Sign up to our newsletter

Recent Updates