Is Greinke Elite?

Dave O'Brien, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution beat writer for the Atlanta Braves, seems to have started a storm when he tweeted this within the past hour:

Compare Greinke results to elite starters in '10-'12 seasons. Can't see why some think he should be among the very highest paid. 1 great season.

Our own headmaster, gondeee, had to question this right off the bat:

What stats are you comparing?

Others, including yours truly, chimed in as well:

Yes, I said '10-'12.. RT : Are you including '12? He's 1st in the NL in WAR (fangraphs).

OK, compare stats to elite starters for past 9 -- whole career. RT : yep, just take out Greinke's best yr in sample

You're serious? Verlander 1 great season? RT : Verlander has only had 1 great season. Greinke is top 15 pitcher

Cain has 4 cons. seasons of 217-plus IP and 1.175 career WHIP RT : Greinke '10-'12 has higher WAR than Cain and Hamels

He did not retweet my message, which was this:

Among Qualif. Starters since 2004, Greinke 23rd xFIP, 18th best FIP. (ERA ~50th). Since 2010 it's 4th and 8th, respec.

Finally, DOB came back with this:

Some really misinterpreting. I like Greinke; filthy stuff. Just can't justify him in $20-mill-a-yr stratosphere with handful of top pitchers

No Dave, that's not misinterpreting: that's pretty well challenging you to defend your premise. And no, if you were to surface check his stats (W-L, ERA), then he does in fact tend to look like an average top-half-of-the-rotation starter.

In defense of O'Brien: in the world of "what have you done for me lately?", DOB did indeed leave out Greinke's 2009 campaign, which was easily his best for stats across the board, and led to the AL Cy Young award. I will grant him that it is indeed fair to ask if here in 2012 he is that kind of pitcher... it is the question the Braves need to have an answer for before they decide whether to (first) throw the farm at Milwaukee, and (later) the bank at Zack.

Apparently Milwaukee and the league think so. The Brewers didn't just throw out a $100 million (5 years) offer just because they thought he was "average."

I'll throw out one more stat before I throw this open for comments: In that 2010-2012 time period, Greinke has a K-to-Walk ratio of 3.90. That ranks sixth among all qualified starting pitchers over that time (just behind Hamels; in front of Verlander) with individual seasons ranking 14th (2011) and 21st (2012). In other words, he's pretty good and pretty consistent.

Let's debate it. Is Zack Greinke one of the elite?

This FanPost does not express the views or opinions of Talking Chop.

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