Sunday, February 15, 2009

On Homer

Homer Bailey will be the Reds fifth starter this season. You have to believe!

What most people who've given up on him don't realize is that he's only 22 years old (23 in May). Very few pitchers play Major League Baseball at age 21. In fact, he was the second youngest player in the entire National League in 2007. (Justin Upton was only 19.)

Look at some examples of great pitchers who started out like Homer. Greg Maddux was 8-18 with a 5.58 ERA during his first two seasons. Tom Glavine was 9-21 with an ERA around 5 during his first two. Guys like John Smoltz and Jake Peavy had terrible first seasons at age 21. Carlos Zambrano came up at age 20 and was 5-10 during his first two seasons.

I know wins, losses, and ERA aren't the best measure of a pitcher's success - or in this case, failure - but check out their peripherals, too. Homer's K-BB ratio is horrendous - 46:45. In Glavine's first two seasons, it was 104:96. Zambrano was 97:71 in his first two. Maddux was 121:85. Smoltz's first year was 37-33.

Check out their WHIPs (walks and hits per innings pitched). Homer is at 1.80 for his career at this point. Maddux was 1.66 in his first two seasons. Glavine was 1.433. Zambrano was 1.52. Smoltz was 1.672 in his first season. So Homer is a little higher in that area, but still not far off the other guys. And he's only thrown 81 innings.

A terrible start to a Major League Baseball career is not indicative of the kind of career one will have. I mean, the guys I listed above are Hall of Fame caliber players. (Admittedly I chose them off the top of my head.)

And that's why I want Bailey to win the fifth starter spot. Let him sink or swim this season. You have to believe that last year's disaster will make him more focused this year and determined to realize his potential. At this point, he has to realize that though he was the best pitcher at every level of his life, the Big Leagues are different and he's going to have to work rather than rely on his god-given talent if he is to be successful.

That would give us four potential number one starters in the rotation and Arroyo. I mean, we're talking a Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux type of rotation. That hasn't happened in my lifetime. That's almost enough to overcome a one-bat outfield.

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