Parker: On Felix Hernandez and his place in history

From SABR member Bill Parker at The Platoon Advantage on August 16, 2012:

Perfect games take a lot of luck and a lot of help from the defense, of course, and I’m of the mind that almost no one alive today has ever seen a pure single-game pitching demonstration as great as Kerry Wood’s fifth career start. But if a pitcher really can be perfect by himself, Felix was just about as close as you’ll see to one getting there without simply striking out everybody. It’s a game everybody should go back and watch (even if you don’t have, I think they sell individual past games for like $2.99), and that’s probably worth watching more than once. 

It will almost definitely go down as the greatest game in the career of one of the greatest pitchers of the current era, which has me thinking: we take Felix for granted, and part of it is because he pitches in Seattle, part is because he’s never racked up a ton of wins (because he pitches in Seattle, among other things), and part is because he’s justag been around and known around the sport for so long — he started 30 games for the first time in 2006, in a league in which Vernon Wells, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner were superstars and Ruben Sierra and Sandy Alomar were still active. But he was 20 at the time, so it makes it harder to remember that he’s still only 26 now, still should be in the middle of (or even still just moving into) his peak. He’s been a full-time starter, and a good-to-great one, in every year since, and it’s become pretty easy to just accept that as part of the normal fabric of baseball–to take no notice, in the big picture, of what he’s been doing. 

So that’s part of why we’ve been taking Felix for granted. The other part, though, is that it’s hard to say exactly what he’s doing. It certainly feels special, because we haven’t seen it in recent memory — a guy good enough to be an effective starter at age 20, who stays healthy and keeps getting better into, at least, his late 20s.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: August 16, 2012. Last Updated: August 16, 2012.