Close to halfway through this regular season, those everyone pegged for success back in the beginning of the calendar year can be found atop most pitching leaderboards: Cliff Lee, Joe Saunders, Shaun Marcum, and Edinson Volquez. A fifth pitcher, however, has been performing at quite the high level as well despite the lack of similar publicity.
His name is Aaron Cook and, for those unfamiliar with his work, he pitches for the Colorado Rockies. Through 15 starts, Cook is 10-3 with a 3.29 ERA, 3.99 FIP, and 1.27 WHIP. In 104 innings of work he has allowed 105 hits and 27 walks to go along with his 50 strikeouts. The ERA, FIP, WHIP, and his 1.85 K/BB are all career highs for Cook; while the season has plenty of life remaining, his current numbers appear to be better than any of his past work.
A notorious groundball pitcher, his percentage of such balls in play has actually decreased overall from 2005 until now. Though essentially stagnant between 2006-2007, he has thrown a lower percentage of grounders and line drives, replacing them with flyballs in this four-year span.
One reason for his success is his somewhat vast increase in runners stranded. Last year, when he posted a 4.12 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, and 1.39 K/BB, he had just a 68.1% LOB rate. This year it has jumped to 75.8%. All told, he is allowing a smaller percentage of runners to reach base and then stranding a much higher percentage of them.
His 2.21 WPA ranks 2nd in the NL behind just Volquez while ranking 5th in the entire MLB behind Lee, Saunders, Marcum, and Volquez. His 1.14 WPA/LI ranks 10th in the NL and, the only clutchier starting pitcher than Cook has been Vicente Padilla (1.13 for Padilla, 1.09 for Cook). Additionally, his 13.13 BRAA and 1.30 REW rank 9th in the NL.
Coming into this season many pegged, and rightly so, Jeff Francis as the Rockies ace. Close to the halfway mark Cook has been one of the best in baseball, let alone his own team, while Francis has struggled.
Print This Post