Justin Verlander Conquers April (with graphs!)

verlander

 

This particular pitcher, Justin Verlander, is widely considered to be one of the best in baseball. You may disagree with that statement, but he’s certainly one of the very best pitchers in the entire league. Yet he has become the game’s best without doing very well in the season’s first month over the course of his career. Even in his Cy Young/MVP season, his April ERA was 3.64. In 2009, it was 6.75!

It’s been a bit of a thing among Tigers fans that Verlander isn’t that good in April. But he’s getting better and that should probably terrify you if you are a major league hitter.

Let’s take a look at his ERA and FIP in April across his career:

era

 

There was a time in which Verlander allowed a lot of runs in April and pitched in a way that suggested he would allow runs. ERA tells you what happened, FIP tells you what generally happens to pitchers who pitch a certain way. But over the last few years, he’s conquered April. His 2013 April ERA was 1.83. Imagine what he can do this season now that he isn’t trying to play catch up.

This trend is evident in his K/9 and BB/9 numbers as well:

k bb

 

Verlander has made noticeable improvement in April walk rate over the last few seasons and the strikeout rate hasn’t suffered.

Now maybe Verlander won’t take this great April and turn it into a season better than 2009 or 2011 or 2012, but he very easily could. If he continues his pattern of pitching better in the summer months, then we may be in for a treat. Verlander, I would argue, is nowhere near the top of his game so far this year, but he’s getting good results. When he settles in, it could be awesome.

He’s the richest pitcher in history and his teammates are putting pressure on him to match their great start. Justin Verlander has usually stumbled through April, but he did not do so in 2013. Could this be Verlander’s career year? If April is any indication, clear your calendar for every fifth day and start thinking about a trip to Cooperstown in about 15 years.

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