This just in: Jair Jurrjens isn’t nearly as good as we think he is

The radar gun clocked this pitch at 35 mph. (AP photos)

Here we see the exceedingly average Jair Jurrjens pitching to contact. (AP photo)

Jair Jurrjens won’t be starting the All-Star Game, and for that we should be grateful. Otherwise the best pitcher in the National League would stand revealed as a fraud.

We know this because Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press tells us so. Sharp writes that, had Detroit not shown mercy and traded the young hurler to the Braves for Edgar Renteria in October 2007, “he’d be nothing more than a .500 pitcher dueling against more powerful American League batting orders.”

More Sharp, addressing the possibility of a Jurrjens All-Star start, which was dashed Monday by that new Atlanta nemesis Bruce Bochy: “It could prove quite illuminating to see how a guy who pitches to contact, barely getting the radar gun to nudge a little north of 90 miles per hour, would fare against a possible 2-through-7 batting order of Curtis Granderson, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. It might get ugly.”

Hey, great point! Poor Jurrjens just faced the fearsome Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, last month. And he yielded four consecutive grand slams to the slugger.

Actually, I made that up. Here’s how Jurrjens did against Hamilton on June 19: Walked him, struck him out swinging, struck him out swinging again.

Oh, yeah. Jurrjens won the game. Beat the Texas Rangers, the reigning AL champs. Yielded one earned run. Didn’t get ugly.

I should explain something: I’m not fond of taking on other columnists because I myself have written so many silly things the Internet isn’t vast enough to contain all the howlers. But Sharp’s argument, such as it is, pushes two of my figurative buttons: First, that the AL is the only league that plays real baseball, and second, that we can tell by the radar gun whether a guy can pitch. (Obviously that’s why Kyle Farnsworth is bound for Cooperstown and Greg Maddux quit baseball in disgust to go work at a driving range.)

Let’s stipulate that having the designated hitter makes some difference. The average ERA of a NL pitcher is 3.81; the average ERA of an AL pitcher is 3.88. So let’s tack 0.07 onto Jurrjens’ ERA, and we get … 1.94. And that would take him from 12-3, which happens to be his record, to 7-7 or 8-8, which Sharp believes Jurrjens would be were he a Tiger? Come on.

Roy Halladay and  Cliff Lee, each of whom work against the Braves on a regular basis, used to labor in the American League. Since switching over, their ERAs have indeed gone down, but … and this is a fairly major “but” … it’s not as if they’ve gone from lousy to great. Both won Cy Young Awards in the AL. Both are NL All-Stars.

Moral of our story: If you can pitch, you can pitch. The NL has won half of the past 10 World Series. Somebody obviously gets some of those guys out. (Know how well the aforementioned Hamilton did against the Giants’ pitchers last October? He hit .100.)

As for that business about “pitching to contact” and “barely getting the radar gun … above 90″: Every pitcher who has ever lived, from Rapid Robert Feller to Sandy Koufax to Justin Verlander, pitches to contact. Nobody strikes out everybody. We all get excited when somebody gets clocked at 96 mph, but you know who throws 96 mph? Scott Proctor, the Braves’ reliever who just yielded three home runs in eight days.

Jair Jurrjens might not be 12-3 for the Tigers. (Then again, given that Comerica Park is more spacious than Turner Field, he might be 13-2.) But he wouldn’t go hungry in any league anywhere. If you can pitch, you can pitch. This guy can pitch.

As for those brutish AL sluggers: I recall a lineup featuring Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome running into a pitcher who spent his life Pitching To Contact. The 1995 Cleveland Indians hit .291 as a team. Against Tom Glavine in Games 2 and 6 of the World Series, they managed five hits and two earned runs in 14 innings. I forget who won.

(Oh, and one thing more: Jurrjens made seven starts in the American League before the Tigers dealt him. He was 3-1, meaning he wasn’t a .500 pitcher even then.)

By Mark Bradley

292 comments Add your comment

[...] This just in: Jair Jurrjens isn't nearly as good as we think he isAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Jair Jurrjens won't be starting the All-Star Game, and for that we should be grateful. Otherwise the best pitcher in the National League would stand revealed as a fraud. We know this because Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press tells us so. … [...]

rawdawg

July 11th, 2011
2:34 pm

Benjamin

July 11th, 2011
2:35 pm

We won both ends of the Renteria move, didn’t we?

j

July 11th, 2011
2:35 pm

Tigers are just bitter

DawgInaTruck

July 11th, 2011
2:35 pm

Wouldn’t mind seeing JJ pitch one inning, throw 10-15 pitches and take a seat. We need him more than a All-Star team does.

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:35 pm

rawdawg back in the winner’s circle. Kudos.

Benjamin

July 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

Dang, Rawdawg is always on the pole position. I’ve got to work on my car…

TAC

July 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

Seems like some one is mad that we stole Jurrjens and Smoltz from them. HAHA STFU. He just wishes the Tigers had Jurrjens with there sorry ass rotation they have now. Only pitcher worth a damn is Verlander. What a whiner.

Spence

July 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

Congrats on this logical, smart, well-stated piece.

MatthewH

July 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

Give ‘em heII Bradley

cadilac

July 11th, 2011
2:37 pm

i do not understand why he is not the national league starter????

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:37 pm

rawdawg is the Front-Row Joe Nemechek of this space.

J.J.M.

July 11th, 2011
2:37 pm

all hail Mark all hail Mark

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:38 pm

I think you can make a compelling case that Jurrjens should be the NL starter, even over Halladay. More wins, lower ERA.

TAC

July 11th, 2011
2:38 pm

What exactly is the point in shouting “FIRST”? Who cares? What award do you get for being the 1st person to type on this article knowing they haven’t even read it yet?

Steve

July 11th, 2011
2:38 pm

Bochy takes Vogelsberg (SP?) over Hansen and doesn’t let Jurrjens who has the best numbers in baseball start, gosh wonder if there is just not a tad bit of bias there

TommyJack

July 11th, 2011
2:38 pm

The hell is Drew Sharp?

Reid Adair

July 11th, 2011
2:39 pm

Thanks for calling his hack, Drew Sharp, out, Mark. His “arguments” are lacking in any semblance of fact.

Steve

July 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

you should give kudos to the first person that complains about the first person saying first :)

MatthewH

July 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

I still want someone to explain to me what Bochy meant when he said he felt sorry for Tommy Hansen and that he should be here (at All-Star-Game). Isn’t it Bochy’s choice?!?

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

You’ve given me food for thought, Steve.

UGA Alum

July 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

BEST BRADLEY ARTICLE IN HISTORY!!! Honestly, I’m not a fan of most of your articles, yet I always read them. You should print this out and frame it! I agree with every line of it and your humor is SPOT ON!!!!

Zack

July 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

His own readers ripped the article in the comments section

Bob in SF

July 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

From looking at the comments so far, the astute readers of the Detroit Free Press feel Mr. Sharp needs to put his medicinal cannabis pipe down before writing future columns defending bad trades by the local club.

Steve

July 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

I guess I was the first person to make the suggestion about giving kudos to the first person that complains about the first person saying first huh? okay I will quit now

Mike Lum fan

July 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

Great write-up Mark. Sounds like sour grapes from Mr. Sharp, I guess living in Detroit will do that to you…

MatthewH

July 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

Mark,
Whatever you do, don’t go on Detroit television. We don’t need another Cleveland “situation”.

SandyB

July 11th, 2011
2:43 pm

The Braves could be 161 – 1 and people around the country (especially ESPN folks) would still think we weren’t a good team. I think we’re doing pretty well, considering the batting averages of the lineup we have….

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:43 pm

So I guess you’re due for kudos, huh, Steve?

J.J.M.

July 11th, 2011
2:43 pm

but we all Know Halladay won because he is more popular

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:43 pm

Duly noted, MatthewH.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 11th, 2011
2:44 pm

Great article. Just another case of people trying to fit facts to their own self-constructed reality.

Educated Idiot

July 11th, 2011
2:44 pm

Mark read some of the comments under Sharp’s article.

Detroit is ripping him a new one as well.

TruthSeeker

July 11th, 2011
2:45 pm

Good article, Mark. A thorough evisceration of Sharp’s mindless argument.

Ease

July 11th, 2011
2:46 pm

So there is a Mark Bradley in Detroit…interesting. Mark, at least you get the hometown discount…(smile)

retired

July 11th, 2011
2:47 pm

TAC look in the mirror for the definition of KILL JOY

Joe

July 11th, 2011
2:47 pm

All of this sarcasm is giving me a headache.

J.J.M.

July 11th, 2011
2:48 pm

Shannon

July 11th, 2011
2:52 pm

Sounds like bitterness to me on the part of Mr. Sharp. Great article, Mark. Well said.

NCBravesFan

July 11th, 2011
2:55 pm

I’m a huge Braves fan (obviously) and JJ has had a really sublime first half, but I do think Halladay is the choice as the ASG SP. RH’s peripheral stats are tremendous and he has been a real workhorse for the Phillies (not saying JJ hasn’t).

The larger injustice is that Tommy Hanson isn’t going at all.

Oh, and the Detroit columnist is not a very smart person.

ClemsonBrad

July 11th, 2011
2:55 pm

Great read Mark. So true….saying JJ is a .500 pitcher in the AL is the goofiest thing I have heard all season.

Guy that comes to mind recently is CC Sabathia…I think he pitched pretty well for the Brewers and still pretty darn good for the Yankees…you hit it on the head…if you can pitch, you can pitch…

Can you think of any guy who was dominant in one league but horrible in the other? Even the pitchers who had longer careers(Schilling, Johnson, Clemens, ect..) were pretty dominant in both…again, if you can pitch, you can pitch…

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:56 pm

Halladay is a great pitcher. There’s no denying that. But I do think you can make the case that Jurrjens had a slightly better first half.

But NC is correct: The injustice was done to T. Hanson.

The voice of reason

July 11th, 2011
2:56 pm

rawdawg is more of the Dick Trickle ilk IYAM Mark.

Spider29

July 11th, 2011
2:57 pm

Enjoyed the article, Mark. I agree, he’s just mad because the Braves got Detroit twice! Smoltz was pretty good and so is Jurrjens. Just sour grapes! You’re so right, SandyB, “161-1 is a good record but how in the world could they lose that game back in April to a pitcher just up from the minors?”.

The voice of reason

July 11th, 2011
2:57 pm

…oh, and phuck Philly. Jes’ sayin’.

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2011
2:57 pm

I was trying to think of one, ClemsonBrad, and I was tempted to say Javier Vazquez: Good as a Brave in 2009, lousy as a Yankee in 2010. But he hasn’t been very good as a Marlin in 2011, so I don’t know if it’s a question of leagues.

bkinkennesaw

July 11th, 2011
2:59 pm

Did the Braves do something to Bochy during his playing days to upsset him? Seems a bit bitter when it comes to Braves pitchers.

Bluestreak

July 11th, 2011
2:59 pm

If I lived in Detroit, I’d try to cover for my team’s total blunder in that trade. I’m surprised he didn’t say that they got Edgar Renteria, ‘the best shortstop to ever play the game and future first-ballot HOFer’. Fact is Detroit would trip over themselves to reacquire JJ and Sharp would say he’s a annual Cy Young candidate.

Homer journalism…

Abnerish

July 11th, 2011
3:00 pm

I think you just won that argument, Mark. Sounds like sour grapes to me. JJ is a Maddux-esque pitcher and typical baseball fans (and columnists apparently) can’t understand how someone who throws in the high 80s/low 90s can be successful at the major league level.

Oh, and by the way, the American League doesn’t play baseball. They play an entertainment version of the game. Just ask Cliff Lee. He said he came back to the National League so he could feel like he was actually playing baseball.

Aaron

July 11th, 2011
3:00 pm

Congrats to the Tigers for reclaiming first in the worst division in baseball. Come play in the NL East(or the AL East), and see how well your player do then.