Could Strasburg Not be the Best Rookie to Debut Last Tuesday?

Unless you don't follow sports at all like my mom or been climbing K-2, you have seen a few hundred articles on the debut of Stephen Strasburg this last Tuesday night.  It was a night to remember and people are already comparing him to the all time greats like Walter Johnson or Roger Clemens

Lost in the shuffle was also the debut of Mike Stanton of the Florida Marlins.  Mike was tearing up AA with 21 home runs so this year and an OPS of 1.167.  He was on average the 4th rated prospect at the beginning of the season and looks right now to his way to being a star in the league.  

Stanton is not getting the hype of Strasburg, but when all is said and done, he could easily be the best player to make their debut on June 8th, 2010.  He gets the nod because he is a hitter and for that reason only.  Here are a couple reasons why.

1.  Pitchers have a greater chance of getting injured and not having a long career.  A few years back, Mark Prior was considered the best player in the draft by many people anointed him 2nd coming of Nolan Ryan.  How did that turn out for him?

Here is a list of pitchers that I could think of that started their careers on fire:

Name Year WAR Total WAR
Mark Fidrych Rookie 8.5 9.8
Dwight Gooden 2nd Year 11.7 47.6
Kerry Wood Rookie 3.7 23.6
Mark Prior 2nd Year 6.2 13.1
Roger Clemens 3rd year 7.9 128.4
Fernando Valenzuela Rookie 5.4 38.2

Some of them burned out quickly, others had decent careers and one should be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.  A pitcher's career could be over before it begins.

2.  It it harder for pitchers to accumulate WAR compared to hitters because of the extra time missed by pitchers and the ability of hitters to accumulate WAR on a daily basis instead of every 5 days.  Of the top 100 players all time in accumulated WAR (Rally's database), 71 of the players are hitters, while only 29 are pitchers.  The lowest ranked pitcher of the one hundred iis Tom Glavine while Jim Edmonds was lowest ranked hitter.   Jim Edmonds is a really good player, but many people consider him a borderline Hall of Famer.  Tom Glavine should end up being a first ballot Hall of Famer.  Using metrics like WAR for comparison, pitchers seem to be undervalued compared to hitters.

Strasburg is the superior talent to Stanton, but Strasburg will need to keep this edge in talent and remain healthy for his entire career for it to be considered be better than a great.  I can't see in the future and know exactly what the future is going to hold, but it will be harder for great rookie pitcher like Strasburg or a good rookie hitter like Stanton.

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