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December 22, 2014

Pitchers, kings of baseball

Pitching is 75% of baseball. 

Connie Mack

You need nine guys to form a baseball team.

But let’s face it – there is a “king” among those nine guys, whose role in winning or losing a game is much bigger than the role of the rest of the eight guys combined. This guy is called a pitcher.

Pitching is what the game is all about. Pitching IS the game. 

Bob Welch

Symbolically enough, a pitcher has his own hill on the baseball field with his own little fortress – a pitching rubber. He is literally a king of the hill as he controls the development and the pace of each game from up there.

Pitching is #1. If your pitcher pitches a shut-out you can’t lose!

Al Campanis

Typically, an active (25-man) Major League team roster will consist of five starting pitchers, seven relief pitchers, two catchers, six infielders, and five outfielders.

By doing some basic maths, we quickly come to a conclusion that pitchers represent just under half (12/25) of the typical Major League team.

A few decades ago a study was performed to ascertain whether today’s baseball experts still believe pitching is the most important ingredient in winning baseball and how they compare it with batting, fielding, and other factors. Of the 50 baseball experts completing the questionnaire, 44 ranked pitching the most important factor in winning baseball.

This is even more so for the left-handed pitchers.

Baseball scouts repeatedly say that while a RHP has to give you a reason to like him, a LHP has to give you a reason not to like him.

More recent authors, who take into account also the psychological factors that might influence the performance of a pitcher, speak more of the importance of the relationship between the pitcher and “his” catcher, a duel that is called the “battery” in the baseball jargon. We’ve all seen how effective a working battery can be in this year’s World Series.

With all the above said, it does not come as a surprise that the highest-paid player in the Majors is … well, a pitcher. The 25-year-old, two-time Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, recently agreed to the largest contract for a pitcher in baseball history to the tune of seven years, $215 million.

The 5 MLB’s highest-paid pitchers (Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, C.C. Sabathia and Zack Greinke) will earn the staggering $878 million over a period of seven years. To prove our point, half of the 10 highest-paid athletes in baseball are pitchers.

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So, make sure that when your kid asks you for a piece of advice on which position should he play, you will make the right call.

And remember, it’s never too early to enter the Big Leagues! 😉

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