Stephen Strasburg entered the Spring baseball season as the consensus number one selection for the upcoming MLB draft in June. Many people were quick, and correct, to point out however that there was still a lot of baseball to be played until June 9th arrives and that there was still a couple roads that would lead to a different name being called first by the Nationals.
One of those roads is an injury. That hasn’t happened yet and despite what some people will try to sell you, injury prediction based on pitching mechanics is a science in its infancy and if anything, that’s granting it more credibility than it warrants. While it is certainly possible to grade mechanics for things like deception, repeatability and the like, predicting injuries is unreliable. It hinges so much on the physiology of the individual and has yet to be subjected to enough scientific testing that any attempts at it should be at best taken with enough grains of salt to fill the Grand Canyon and probably is best just ignored.
Signability might play a factor, but that’s incredibly difficult to predict all the factors involved. Therefore I feel it best to box it up with injury concerns, something we can only react to in retrospect.
The other main divergent to Strasburg being named first overall would be some other player emerging on the scene. That would require someone to either eclipse Strasburg, Strasburg to struggle, or some combination of the two. Well, three starts into his season and Strasburg’s star certainly isn’t dimming and in fact is only getting brighter (supernova jokes here not applicable). Here’s the pertinent stats in chronological order of starts:
23 BF, 11 K, 2 BB
26 BF, 16 K, 1 BB
29 BF, 18 K, 1 BB (against top 20 team)
I don’t have good batted ball breakdowns so I cannot report on his groundball percentage and other assorted numbers of note. Frankly though, the above is enough. 78 batters faced and 45 have been struck out. 45 of 78. Stephen Strasburg has struck out 58% of all batters that he has faced so far. Oh, and he’s done that while walking just 5%. Oh, and he’s been better with each start. Oh, and he was reportedly clocked at 102mph in in second start.