Baseball: Is Zack Greinke the Best Pitcher Around?

by Suzie Raven

Two names dominate American League pitching this year: Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals and Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays. They have both been outstanding in 2009 and are tied with league best 8-1 records. Even though Halladay is tied with Greinke for the league best number of wins, doesn’t mean he has been pitching as well. Greinke stands out in 2009, with no sign of slowing down.

As June gets underway, Greinke holds an outstanding earned run average of 1.1. Johan Santana of the New York Mets posts Major League Baseball's next best ERA with 2.0. This means the next best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) allows almost twice as many earned runs per game. While Halladay’s 2.63 ERA is no slouch, nothing compares to Greinke’s current numbers.

Halladay has built a reputation of strong, consistent pitching over his ten-year career with the Blue Jays. He had 20 win seasons in 2003 and 2008, with an ERA of 3.25 and 2.78 respectively. He also posted an impressive 2.41 ERA in 2005. With his inconsistent history, it’s easy to say that Greinke still needs to prove himself over a couple of more seasons before the two can be compared.

Greinke had a good, although not standout season in 2008, posting a 3.47 ERA as he struck out 183 and walked 58. He’s pitched enough innings this season to prove his 1.1 ERA is indicative that he will have a standout year in 2009. Recent outstanding performances include a complete game in the Royals 6-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Greinke didn’t give up a single walk that night, but struck out eight.

Even more impressive than Greinke’s statistics is how many pitches he has in his repertoire. The best pitchers in baseball have two stand out pitches. Greinke has four: a slider that Tiger’s manager Jim Leyland refers to as his “put-away slider,” along with pinpoint control of his curveball, fastball and change up.

Batters can’t stand in the batters box waiting for Greinke’s weak pitch. It doesn’t exist. That’s why Greinke is posting the best numbers in baseball right now, and why he is going to continue to out-pitch even MLB’s most consistent stars.

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