May 9, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Kris Medlen prepares to throw a pitch during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Medlen's Dominance


In my 2012 review of Kris Medlen, I pointed out how unique his season was, in terms of success and role.  This first table shows all the seasons since 1901 where a pitcher had a 250 or higher ERA+ with at least 125 IP.

Player WAR ERA+ IP Year Age Tm G GS GF W L SV BB SO ERA
Walter Johnson 14.3 259 346.0 1913 25 WSH 48 36 10 36 7 2 38 243 1.14
Pedro Martinez 11.4 291 217.0 2000 28 BOS 29 29 0 18 6 0 32 284 1.74
Bob Gibson 11.1 258 304.2 1968 32 STL 34 34 0 22 9 0 62 268 1.12
Greg Maddux 9.5 260 209.2 1995 29 ATL 28 28 0 19 2 0 23 181 1.63
Dutch Leonard 9.0 279 224.2 1914 22 BOS 36 25 8 19 5 3 60 176 0.96
Greg Maddux 8.3 271 202.0 1994 28 ATL 25 25 0 16 6 0 31 156 1.56
John Hiller 7.9 283 125.1 1973 30 DET 65 0 60 10 5 38 39 124 1.44
Mordecai Brown 6.9 253 277.1 1906 29 CHC 36 32 4 26 6 3 61 144 1.04
Jim Kern 6.0 264 143.0 1979 30 TEX 71 0 57 13 5 29 62 136 1.57
Ferdie Schupp 4.5 272 140.1 1916 25 NYG 30 11 17 9 3 1 37 86 0.90
Kris Medlen 4.4 256 138.0 2012 26 ATL 50 12 7 10 1 1 23 120 1.57
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/11/2012.

It will likely be another 10 years before we see another such season.  Leverage is the reason why Medlen’s WAR is lower than Kern and Hiller, as those two were in the old “fireman” role, often coming in the 7th and 8th inning to finish a game, pitching a lot more high-leverage appearances.  That Maddux guy also had a decent run…

Here is the list of pitchers with at least 10 starts and 35 relief appearances, sorted by ERA+:

Player ERA+ GS GR Year Age Tm W L SV IP ERA
Kris Medlen 256 12 38 2012 26 ATL 10 1 1 138.0 1.57
Jeff Fassero 183 15 41 1993 30 MON 12 5 1 149.2 2.29
Wilcy Moore 171 12 38 1927 30 NYY 19 7 13 213.0 2.28
Bob Bowman 158 15 36 1939 28 STL 13 5 9 169.1 2.60
Brian Duensing 156 13 40 2010 27 MIN 10 3 0 130.2 2.62
Tom Hall 149 11 41 1970 22 MIN 11 6 4 155.1 2.55
Norm Charlton 146 16 40 1990 27 CIN 12 9 2 154.1 2.74
Bill Hands 145 11 38 1967 27 CHC 7 8 6 150.0 2.46
Scott Williamson 144 10 38 2000 24 CIN 5 8 6 112.0 3.29
Bryn Smith 143 12 37 1983 27 MON 6 11 3 155.1 2.49
Byung-Hyun Kim 142 12 44 2003 24 TOT 9 10 16 122.1 3.31
Bump Hadley 141 11 44 1931 26 WSH 11 10 8 179.2 3.06
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/11/2012.

As I mentioned in the preview, Medlen blows everyone out of the water here.  It will be fun to see what he can do with a full season as a starter.

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided Kris Medlen

  • Lee Trocinski

    This really shows how good Maddux was in ’94 and ’95. In 112 years, there have only been seven seasons of a pitcher posting an ERA 40% of the league average with at least 200 IP, and he did it in consecutive seasons. Wow….