Baseball Neanderthals point to his 268 career wins and 2.86 lifetime ERA as proof that the retired Oriole was a top-flight major league pitcher, but those of us who appreciate the value of stats know better. In 3948 career IP, Palmer struck out only 2212. In 1976, the last of his three Cy Young Awards, Palmer averaged 4.5 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. In 1978, when he won 21 with a 2.46 ERA, Palmer averaged a paltry 4.2 K’s per 9 IP. Obviously he wasn’t very good.
Obviously I’m kidding, but some sabermetricians would defend such nonsense. They are the same people who dismiss Huddy‘s outstanding start because he’s averaging only 4.1 K’s per 9 IP. Tommy Hanson, whose ERA now stands two runs higher, is the unquestioned ace due to his higher strikeout ratio, they contend. Never mind that Hanson has pitched less innings and allowed more hits. (Those same people also downplay JJ’s contributions because “his peripherals haven’t been particularly good throughout his major league career (K/BB < 2!), which indicates he’s due for some bad regression.”)
This is madness. Tommy certainly has better stuff, but he’s yet to prove he’s an elite hurler. I wouldn’t classify Huddy or JJ as elites, but strikeout totals have nothing to do with it. Ask Aaron Myette, who struck out 134 hitters in 154 innings over six seasons with the White Sox, Rangers and Reds. One of the worst pitchers ever, Myette left the game with a 8.16 career ERA.