Fernando Rodney has the lowest ERA in baseball history

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Fernando Rodney had to go and ruin his perfect statistical match with Dennis Eckersley’s historic 1990 season by throwing a scoreless inning last night, moving past Eckersley for the best ERA of all time among pitchers with 50-plus innings.

Technically they both still have a 0.61 ERA, but Rodney has now allowed five earned runs in 74.1 innings while Eckersley allowed five earned runs in 73.1 innings. So it’s officially Rodney at 0.605 and Eckersley at 0.614.

Here’s what the rest of the leaderboard now looks like:

                     YEAR       IP      ERA
Fernando Rodney      2012     74.1     0.61
Dennis Eckersley     1990     73.1     0.61
Rob Murphy           1986     50.1     0.72
Earl Hamilton        1918     54.0     0.83
Nick Maddox          1907     54.0     0.83

What a weird list and what a crazy season at age 35 for Rodney, who prior to this season had posted an ERA worse than 4.00 in five straight years and had more walks than strikeouts in 2011.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉