Jayson Stark’s Friends Are Stupid

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox

Over at ESPN.com Jayson Stark asked 19 baseball scouts and executives which pitcher in baseball was a “must-see” starter. In other words, who is the one pitcher in baseball that you’d make a point of watching pitch every time you could.

Well, after looking at the list I feel safe saying you shouldn’t take anything anonymous scouts or executives ever tell Jayson Stark again seriously. Because they’re all stupid. Very, very stupid.

Here’s what Stark asked in his own words.

As the news was breaking this week that [Jose] Fernandez was headed for Tommy John surgery, I was already in the process of polling 19 scouts and executives from around baseball on the following question:

Who are the 10 “must-see” starting pitchers in baseball?

I wasn’t just looking for pitchers with great numbers. I was looking for pitchers who made you stop what you were doing and watch.

I was searching for pitchers who, if you were flipping through a riff of games on your TV remote, forced you to stop flipping, through their sheer charisma on the mound.

Most of all, I was hunting for guys who exude that special quality that Jose Fernandez exuded every time he grabbed the baseball — namely, FUN. It was just fun to watch him do his thing.

Not surprisingly, Jose Fernandez showed up more often than any other pitcher, getting named by 17 of the 19 people Stark picked. What was surprising to me was the lack of people who named Chris Sale to their list.

I get it if Chris Sale isn’t your top guy, that’s fine, but to not include him in your top ten? And then to see the pitchers that do appear on more top tens than Sale?

Here’s the list of pitchers with the number of votes in parentheses.

  1. Jose Fernandez (17)
  2. Clayton Kershaw (11)
  3. Felix Hernandez (9)
  4. Masahiro Tanaka (8)
  5. Max Scherzer (8)
  6. Justin Verlander (7)
  7. Yu Darvish (6)
  8. Cliff Lee (5)
  9. Adam Wainwright (5)
  10. Mark Buehrle (5)

Mark Buehrle! Mark Buehrle made the list! I love Mark Buehrle, and I love games in which he pitches because they go by so fast, but must-see television? Come on!

As for Sale, not only did he miss out on the top ten, but he wasn’t even in the top 14. That’s right, Jon Lester and Yordano Ventura got four votes, and James Shields and Zack Greinke got three.

Chris Sale got two. The same Chris Sale that has an ERA of 3.01 and has struck out 9.3 batters while walking only 2.2 per nine innings as a starter. The same Chris Sale that has been worth 14.0 bWAR in only 63 career starts.

These people would rather watch James Shield pitch than that Chris Sale.

Want to know who else got two votes?

Bronson Arroyo.

Yep, just as many scouts and executives were interested in watching Bronson Arroyo pitch as there were interested in Chris Sale.

Jayson Stark’s friends are stupid. Don’t listen to them.

(For those wondering, Jeff Samardzija didn’t get any votes. But Bronson Arroyo did.)

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