The Best Pitcher...That time winter-weary baseball fans look forward to is here: pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. Which pitchers arrive as the defending league leaders in value for the buck? Baseball Prospectus uses a multitude of statistics to calculate a pitcher's "Value Over Replacement Player," or the number of runs he saves compared with a minimum-salaried replacement. Among the 107 pitchers that made at least 25 starts in 2010, the average pitcher earned $196,512 for each VORP point he gave his team. Comparing VORP scores to salaries, here are the 10 best values of 2010.
10. Felix Hernan...Seattle Mariners 2010 salary: $7.2 million Expected VORP: 36.6 Actual VORP: 70.2 What further proof is needed to show that the new age stat gurus have arrived? Hernandez bagged the 2010 American League Cy Young Award with a mere 13-12 record, so dominant were his other statistics that placed him at the top of the league in innings (249), ERA (2.27) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.9).
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
9. Josh JohnsonFlorida Marlins 2010 salary: $3.75 million Expected VORP: 19.1 Actual VORP: 58.5 The Marlins found Johnson in the fourth round of the 2002 draft. Since making his big league debut in 2005, he's gone 45-22 and made two All-Star teams.
(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
8. Mat LatosSan Diego Padres 2010 salary: $407,800 Expected VORP: 2.1 Actual VORP: 44.4 The 22-year-old was a major factor in the Padres' surprise race to the top of the NL West last year, winning 14 games and striking out 189 hitters in 185 innings.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
7. Adam Wainwrig...St. Louis Cardinals 2010 salary: $4.8 million Expected VORP: 24.6 Actual VORP: 67.7 Wielding perhaps the nastiest curve ball in the game, Wainwright finished second in the National League Cy young Award voting with a 20-11 record and 2.42 ERA over 230 innings. He'll make a still-cheap $6.5 million this year, after which the Cardinals can exercise an option to keep him in 2012.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
6. Trevor CahillOakland Athletics 2010 salary: $410,000 Expected VORP: 2.1 Actual VORP: 45.5 Oakland's second young gem, along with Gonzalez, Cahill went 18-8 last year in 30 starts, earning a spot on the AL All-Star team.
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
5. Gio GonzalezOakland Athletics 2010 salary: $405,000 Expected VORP: 2.1 Actual VORP: 46 He's under the radar in low-profile Oakland, but Gonzalez ranked among the AL's top 10 in wins, ERA, and fewest walks allowed per nine innings.
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
4. Clayton Kersh...Los Angeles Dodgers 2010 salary: $440,000 Expected VORP: 2.2 Actual VORP: 46.9 The big lefty whiffed 212 batters in 204 innings last year, while allowing the fourth-fewest hits per nine innings (7.1) in the National League. He figures to command big bucks in arbitration next winter.
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
3. David PriceTampa Bay Rays 2010 salary: $1.8 million Expected VORP: 9.3 Actual VORP: 54.9 The top overall pick out of Vanderbilt University in 2007 broke through as a star last season: just 170 hits allowed in 208 innings, with a 2.72 ERA and 19 wins.
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
2. Clay BuchholzBoston Red Sox 2010 salary: $433,000 Expected VORP: 2.3 Actual VORP: 51.3 Buchholz blossomed at age 25 to finish second in the AL in earned run average (2.33) while winning 17 games. He'll be arbitration-eligible after this season.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
1. Ubaldo Jimene...Colorado Rockies 2010 salary: $1.25 million Expected VORP: 6.4 Actual VORP: 61 The NL's dominant pitcher in the first half of 2010, Jimenez fell back a bit in the second half but still finished with 19 wins and third place in the Cy Young Award voting. The Rockies have him locked up for $12.8 million for the next three years.