Cheap Seats

Who is the best rookie pitcher?

Yahoo! Sports put together a roster of the top rookie players this season in the majors. It's an interesting list and a good read.

But it touched a nerve with the rundown of starting pitchers. Nationals phenom Steven Strasburg is listed as the number one starter while St. Louis' Jaime Garcia falls behind in the second slot.

I'm not sure if it's because he doesn't have a 100-mile per hour fastball or if St. Louis just isn't a big enough media market that gave Strasburg the nod over Garcia. (It could be the latter, on account of the fact that the writer described the 6-2, 212-pound Garcia as "portly." It would appear that he doesn't even know what the Cardinals lefty looks like.) But Greg Maddux didn't have a blazing fastball like Todd Van Poppel... I'm just saying.

Strasburg MAY turn out to be the better of the two pitchers over the course of his career. Or he MAY turn out to be Kerry Wood, a guy who never comes close to his enormous potential. But there is no way, based on the stats of their rookie seasons, that Strasburg is the better pitcher right now.

Garcia started 28 games for the Birds this season and went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA. In fact, his ERA was 2.21 in late July before he started to wear down under the stress of a full season of pitching, something Strasburg didn't have to endure. Garcia struck out 132 and walked 64. His performance took him from a spring training question mark to a guy who will be penciled in as the Redbirds' third starter in 2011.

Strasburg electrified the national media with his strikeout numbers in his first couple of starts. But he only managed to pitch 12 games before he blew out his elbow. He's expected to miss the entire 2011 season as he recovers. He was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA overall. But his 92 strikeouts and 17 walks in 68 innings pitched get all the attention.

Personally, I would prefer to see wins over gaudy strikeout totals from my starting pitcher. I hope Strasburg recovers and that he reaches his full potential. But I don't think you can start passing out accolades on shouldas and couldas. Garcia is the best rookie pitcher in the National League.

Receiving honorable mentions on the all-rookie list were fellow Cardinals David Freese, who missed half the season with an ankle injury after a hot start at the hot corner and outfielder Jon Jay who hit over .300 following a mid-season call up.