May 9, 2011 at 11:18 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
The Braves are the only team in baseball that has a rotation in which each pitcher is already worth one win in terms of Fangraphs WAR. In fact, no other team even has four.
An off day seems like the perfect time to marvel over how incredible the rotation has been, a day after harping over what has gone wrong with the lineup. Eno Sarris has a piece that discusses why he believes Atlanta’s staff is better than the Philadelphia’s’ available to ESPN Insiders. The intriguing part about that article is that he focuses on the depth of the staff to contend that the rotation down south is better than the one in eastern Pennsylvania. This is absolutely the case, but Atlanta’s rotation has outperformed Philadelphia’s one through five thus far – not in terms of cumulative starting pitcher WAR but in terms of all five starters being above a certain level of production – which is surprising to almost everyone in baseball.
Here is a list of what the starters’ Fangraphs WAR currently is and what it is on pace to be at the end of the season (assuming 34 starts is a full season, 31 for Jurrjens since he missed time already)
Tim Hudson: 1.3, 6.3
Derek Lowe: 1.2, 5.1
Tommy Hanson: 1.0, 4.9
Brandon Beachy: 1.0, 4.9
Jair Jurrjens: 1.0, 6.2
I highly doubt each of these starters reach ~5.0 wins. Injuries and poor performances will occur during the season to knock them off course a bit. However, it is simply astonishing that through seven starts – eight for Lowe and five for Jurrjens – they have produced as well as anyone could have expected.
Hudson and Jurrjens will walk more batters, Hanson and Beachy will allow more hits to fall, and Lowe will not strike as many out, but each and every day these starters seemingly attempt to one-up each other and it has been just amazing to watch. This will not last forever, but Frank Wren has built one of the best and most consistent rotations in all of baseball. Plus, as Eno mentioned in his article, having what is likely the best sixth and seventh starters in the game will help this rotation stay atop of the leader boards over the course of 162 games.