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Is Felix Hernandez headed for surgery?

or greatness?

To see the rest of this story you will need to deposit $5.00 into the TBLA fund. Don't peek, it would not be sporting.

That headline could be used for every single pitcher in America, hopefully it caused you to donate to read a puff piece. 

Based on the research I did last night on Kershaw it seems that Felix is in as select company as Clayton was. 

Looking at right handed pitchers who have struck out at least 700 batters by the age of 24 since post - integration you get quite a mixed bag. 15 right handed pitchers since 1947 have accomplished this task.

We have four HOF pitchers  Drysdale, Sutton, Eckersly, Catfish Hunter, and one who should be in Bert Blyleven.   So a nice 33 % of the guys on the list went on to even more greatness. Kind of cool that two of them are Los Angeles Dodgers. How about the others on this list?

Dwight Gooden was so good from age 19-21that his subsequent years look bad but he was still carrying a plus 140 ERA+ until age 28.  He wasn't done until age 29, I think any fan would take what Doc produced. His peak was better then any of the HOF on this list.

Larry Dierker paid the price for pitching 300 innings at the age of 22 and was basically done as an above average pitcher after that year.

Denny McLain was the last pitcher to win 30 games and he did it by throwing 335 innings at the age of 24. He had one more great year left in his right arm and then was done as an effective pitcher. He did go on to have a life that may rank is as the more interesting in the history of the game after he retired.

Dave Boswell was only 19 when he squared off against the Dodgers in the 1965 World Series but he never really made his mark in baseball. 

Gary Nolan had one of the greatest 19 year old seasons in history but that season came at a big price since it involved throwing over 225 innings. After struggling for two years the arm bounced back with a great age 24 season. However that was it as far as being a dominant pitcher with surgery making him miss his age 25/26 seasons.

Joe Coleman was alot like Dave Boswell. He's on this list because he was pitching full time in the rotation since the age of 20. Maybe he'd been better if he hadn't thrown so many innings before he turned 24 but he rarely a good pitcher. A Brett Tomko type who showed promise but never delivered.

Jeremy Bonderman showed enough promise he was pitching in the Tiger rotation at the age of 20. He's been hurt since the age of 25, but never delivered on the promise even when he was a mainstay in the rotation from age 20 - 24.

Matt Cain just turned 25 and has been a solid number two man in the Giant rotation since he started pitching full time in the rotation at age 21.

Mark Prior didn't really throw alot of innings, he simply broke down at age 23.

When it comes to paths it is obvious that Felix is much better then the likes of Boswell / Coleman. It is obvious his arm has not been overused like many on this list. It is obvious that if he can escape surgery, Felix Hernandez has one hell of a future a head of him.  This list was created for those have pitched up until their age 24 season. Felix still has a season to go, with expectations of 200 K's in 2010, he will probably join Blyleven, Gooden, and Drysdale as the only 24 years olds to have amassed 1,000 Strikeouts.

King Felix indeed.


Player               SO From   To   Age     IP  ERA ERA+
Bert Blyleven      1327 1970 1975 19-24 1611.1 2.78  133
Dwight Gooden      1168 1984 1989 19-24 1291.0 2.64  132
Don Drysdale       1004 1956 1961 19-24 1315.1 3.30  126
Larry Dierker       965 1964 1971 17-24 1409.1 3.14  109
Denny McLain        917 1963 1968 19-24 1176.2 3.11  107
Catfish Hunter      881 1965 1970 19-24 1312.2 3.52   94
Dennis Eckersley    855 1975 1979 20-24 1148.1 3.12  128
Dave Boswell        820 1964 1969 19-24  967.2 3.28  107
Gary Nolan          817 1967 1972 19-24 1156.2 2.83  127
Felix Hernandez     810 2005 2009 19-23  905.0 3.45  125
Joe Coleman         797 1965 1971 18-24 1136.1 3.42   99
Jeremy Bonderman    768 2003 2007 20-24  923.1 4.78   93
Don Sutton          757 1966 1969 21-24  959.1 3.28   95
Matt Cain           729 2005 2009 20-24  872.1 3.53  126
Mark Prior          719 2002 2005 21-24  613.1 3.24  133

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Generated 2/17/2010.