Johan The Very Good?
One thing that I hate is when discussions occur about Hall of Famers. And someone on the message board takes it upon his or her self to say, “It is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good.” I’m sorry, maybe others find humor in this, but I cannot stand it. The first time it might have been ok. But after reading just about every one of Rob Neyer’s message boards for the past two years, I seem to see it ALL THE TIME now. And it isn’t as if it’s not accurate either, just annoying.
But anyway, Johan was once nicknamed “Johan the Great.” Or so I have heard. But the Great Ship may have sailed away and his little canoe may not have the speed to catch up with it. And unless he comes across a motor on one of the deserted islands he comes across, it is probably on its way, far, far away from Johan.
Of course perception does not intersect with reality…again! I don’t remember which “expert” was talking about it the other day, but they referred to Johan’s performance in defense of his “struggles.” And they were right! An ERA+ of 140 going into today’s actions. 95 K’s in 107 IP. 28 walks! I don’t deny that Santana has lost something. After all the scouts say it is true. But it isn’t as if he is some mediocre innings eater either. And I am skeptical to sit here and say that he will end the year with an ERA+ of 140. There is a period of adjustment that the hitters are going through, hitters in the NL that aren’t familiar with Santana. So his numbers may come down just a little, they may not however. The fact is that he is still a very good pitcher! Santana is 7th in ERA+ in the NL. He is 4th in K/BB. 12th in K/9. Etc, etc, etc. His ERA has actually gone down since May 10.
All of those stats indicate that Santana is still worthy to be mentioned among the top pitchers in the game. And 107 innings since many of us declared him to be the best pitcher in the game isn’t enough to disqualify him from that status, or at least the status of being ONE of the best pitchers in baseball. I know that he gives up more home runs nowadays. And I don’t doubt that he will be closer to what he IS now than what he Was then. But what he WAS was incredible, and what he IS is very good. And most teams would love to have a “Very Good” starter anchoring their rotation.