Now We’re Cook-ing

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.



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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.


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Chris
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Chris
7 years 11 months ago

You pegged Joe Saunders for success back in april?

Chris
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Chris
7 years 11 months ago

Or Cliff Lee? “At the beginning of the calendar year” would be december, so you knew lee was going to be this good in December. Marcum was only expected to be about league average at the beginning of the year. I would say everyone of those top five are surprising. Wheres Webb, Beckett, Santana, Halliday, or Sabathia? Thats who I thought would be in top 5 by this point back “at the beginning of the calendar year”.

Chris
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Chris
7 years 11 months ago

My bad, at least I was right :)

Evan
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Evan
7 years 11 months ago

Yeah, that sarcasm didn’t come across at all. The Marcum thing had me jumping out of my chair.

Eric Seidman
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7 years 11 months ago

Haha, well alright then. I pegged Marcum and McGowan to have very good years prior to the season but good for Marcum in the sense of maybe a 4.00-4.20 FIP, not what he’s doing right now. And not a 2.65 ERA or anything along those lines, or in the top five of WPA.

Russ
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Russ
7 years 11 months ago

I completely thought you were on crack with that comment.

And then I thought, “Dang, I really should have checked this site before my fantasy baseball auction…”

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