Max Scherzer won the Cy Young Award last year and in 2013, but I still feel like he’s underrated somehow.
People know he’s great, but it’s not 100% guaranteed that people will mention his name quickly when they bring up the best starters in baseball, even though he’s clearly one of them. Kershaw is Kershaw. Madison Bumgarner gets a lot more press due to the World Series heroics. Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, David Price, Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke get mentioned more. Aces who have fallen off of their perch — like Felix Hernandez — get a lot of chatter too, for obvious reasons.
Scherzer, I feel, just flies under the radar. He’s just so reliable, I suppose, that his dominance is almost taken for granted. Whatever the reasons why, there aren’t as many conversations about Max Scherzer: future Hall of Famer as there should be.
Maybe I’m wrong about that and maybe I just miss all of those conversations. And maybe it doesn’t really matter too much. But man, it’s worth looking at what he’s been doing lately, because people aren’t talking too much about that either.
Scherzer allowed one run — unearned — and only three hits and two walks while striking out 14 Los Angeles Dodgers batters over seven innings last night, throwing 73 of his 105 pitches for strikes. And it’s not like this is something rare or new for him. It’s the third straight start in which he’s recorded double-digit strikeouts. It’s the sixth time in 12 starts he’s done so this year. He’s notched 11 or more strikeouts in five of his past seven starts dating back to May 4.
By every objective measure he’s having a better season in 2017 than he had in his Cy Young-winning 2016 season. He’s once again on a 20-win pace. His ERA is over half a run lower. His FIP is half a run lower. His strikeout rate is a full K per nine innings higher. His walk rate is holding steady. His home run rate is down. He leads the National League in games, innings, strikeouts, ERA+, WHIP, home run rate and strikeout rate. And, of course, he’s the ace for the team with the best record in the National League.
This is Max Scherzer’s fifth consecutive year of elite level performance, which is enough to constitute a Hall of Fame peak. He’s obviously not slowing down, however, so that peak may last for several more years. Given how reliable he is and healthy he has been, his overall counting stats are going to pad things out well too, which puts him on course for Cooperstown.
I think most people, if they stop to think about it, would acknowledge that. But I do want to remind most people to stop and think about it, because I’m fairly certain that Max Scherzer doesn’t get the raves he deserves.