Strasburg - last year revisited

Remember how last year we all thought Strasburg was just kind of off?  I don't think we give him the credit he deserves because last year was pretty awesome.

You know how many times a player in his first 3 seasons has put up 150+ innings where they struck out at least 10 per 9 innings and had a K/BB ratio of over 3?  7.  Seven times ever in the history of baseball.

Ok yes that is arbitrary number picking and the high strikeout totals certainly favor pitchers in the last 20 years* but still that's impressive, right? And it's not just a "first few seasons thing" His K/BB of 4.10 would have been 5th in the NL if he pitched enough innings to qualify.  He would have led the league in K/9.  He would have been around 25th in the league in BB/9.

You might be thinking "Ok that's good, probably very good, but we didn't expect this guy to be very good we expected him to be great"  First I'd say "That was great, you idiot".  Then I'd note that he didn't get lucky or pitch well (for him) in 2012. Last year was the wildest he's pitched in his admittedly brief career (but also wilder than his last college year). He had a .311 BABIP against him and an 11.5% HR/FB rate, which are both on the higher side of the expected ranges.  Things were probably working against him a little bit. And remember, this is all from a guy who was pitching his first full(-ish) season coming back from Tommy John. 

Strasburg is special. At age 23 in his first full season in the bigs, he came back from surgery, arguably had a little bit of bad luck, arguably didn't pitch to his capabilities, and still put up a season where if he pitched a full load of innings he would have been a Top 5 most valuable pitcher in the majors. It seems very likely that next year he'll improve in some way, healthier, more experience, better luck, and even a slight improvement in one of these would mean the Nationals would get one of the Top 3 pitcher seasons in the league.  If it all comes together, we'd be getting into the historic.

Other things may not work out for the Nats.  Maybe Danny is hurt.  Maybe Gio gets suspended or the whole thing effects him.  Maybe LaRoche does come back to Earth. But Strasburg and Bryce will work out and if things go as well as they could, hell, alone they could carry the Nats to the playoffs.

*4 of the non-Strasburgs were since 1995 : Nomo, Lincecum x2, Prior. The other two were Gooden's 1984 season and Dick Radatz '67 year (when he was 27)

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