Monday, October 8, 2012

Wrongful Booing of Mike Fiers

Amidst the overshadowing issue of the Brewers elimination from the playoffs last Sunday was an instance that possibly saddened me even more. Not to downplay the disappointment in missing the postseason, but something else coming from that game irritated me more than the thought of no Brewers baseball beyond game #162. Mike Fiers, after tossing six innings and ten strikeouts, was booed by the home crowd at Miller Park. Mike Fiers, after tremendously exceeding expectations as a rookie to post a sub 4 ERA in 25 appearances, was booed at Miller Park. Mike Fiers, a 22nd round draft pick who forced himself into talks for the National League rookie of the year for much of the season, was booed at Miller Park. Yes, he got hammered on Sunday. And yes, he has gotten hammered a lot in his last ten starts. But let’s not forget the guy that posted a 1.80 ERA in his first 13 appearances on the year.

For much of the season, Brewers fans were up in arms about Mike Fiers when it came to discussions for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. “Look at his ERA,” “Look at his strikeout rate,” “Look at his home runs allowed and walk rates,” etc. The list goes on and on as far as the arguments Brewers fans were making in their backing of Fiers for the Rookie of the Year award. But oh how the tables have turned. In his last ten starts, Fiers’ ERA has blossomed to a 3.68. A 3.68. Not a 4.68, and not even a 4.0. A 3.68. In his rookie season. And after allowing six hits and five runs over six innings in his final start of the season on Sunday, Fiers was booed, at home.

Let’s take a moment to compare Fiers’ season to others around baseball. Fiers went 9-10 over 22 starts, posting a 9.51 K/9, 2.71 BB/9, and 0.83 HR/9 to go along with his 3.68 ERA, 3.11 FIP and, in today’s WAR loving world, a 3.0 WAR. Homer Bailey, who is currently being revered for his “breakout” season, has gone 13-10 in 32 starts with the Reds, putting up a 7.15 K/9, 2.29 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9 and a 3.75 ERA to go along with a 4.06 FIP and 2.7 WAR. I don’t think I have to argue much to make the point that Fiers’ season looks pretty good when compared to Bailey’s. But for further measurement, let’s take a look at Tim Hudson, a pitcher I consider to be very similar to Fiers in terms of “stuff.” Hudson pitched to a 16-7 record over 28 starts, posting 6.04 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 0.70 HR/9, a 3.42 ERA, 3.78 FIP and a 2.7 WAR. Now I know that Fiers upped Brewers’ fans expectations of him with his terrific start to the season, but I will be the first to say that if he ends up with a career anywhere close to what Tim Hudson has done, I will be one happy camper.

Dan Haren pitching for the Angels.
In all the talk about the Brewers needing to find a #2 starter in free agency, two names that have come up recently are Dan Haren and Anibal Sanchez. I thought we should take a look at the season lines thus far for these two guys in comparison to Fiers. First, Haren has posted a 12-12 record in 29 starts with 7.07 K/9, 2.00 BB/9, 1.42 HR/9 and a 4.32 ERA to accompany his 4.30 FIP and a WAR of 1.7. Sanchez, splitting his season between the Marlins and Tigers, has posted a 9-13 record in 31 starts, a 7.68 K/9, 2.21 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9 and a 3.75 ERA, 3.80 FIP, and a 3.8 WAR. Now I am not by any means arguing against the Brewers adding a starting pitcher like Haren or Sanchez, however, let’s not get carried away in assuming that these guys have been that much better than the rookie pitcher that our home crowd is booing.

Okay, Haren and Sanchez are better pitchers than Mike Fiers, I cannot argue that, but how about a little appreciation for the outstanding year that Fiers has put up, all while tremendously exceeding expectations along the way. I for one, am looking forward to seeing Mike Fiers in the rotation again in 2013 and building on a very good rookie season.
Oh, and one last thing… #TEHFIERS!!!!!

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

- Joe Norton (@JoeP_Norton)

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