James Paxton vs. Felix Hernandez, a statistical comparison

Who’s the ace of the Seattle Mariners’ pitching staff? Felix Hernandez has held that title for more than a decade, but James Paxton is stating his case. Let’s look at the numbers.

First, here’s their statistics just for this season:

JAMES PAXTON

Starts Record ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
7 4-0 1.26 43.0 29 7 6 0 11 51 0.930

FELIX HERNANDEZ

Starts Record ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
5 2-2 4.73 26.2 39 14 14 6 3 22 1.575

Now here’s their combined numbers over the past two seasons:

JAMES PAXTON

Starts Record ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
27 10-7 3.13 164.0 163 69 57 9 35 168 1.207

FELIX HERNANDEZ

Starts Record ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
30 13-10 3.95 180.0 177 90 79 25 68 144 1.361

One last set of numbers I want to present are the players’ strikeouts per nine innings and wins above replacement for 2017. Paxton entered the weekend averaging 10.67 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranked 11th among the 128 pitchers with more than 40 innings pitched. Hernandez was averaging 7.43 strikeouts per nine innings, and although he’s below 40 innings, he would have tied for 76th. In wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.com Paxton ranked fifth at 2.1, despite missing nearly a month of a season that’s just two months old. Hernandez was worth 0.1 (essentially replacement level), which would have been tied for 108th.

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