Rant Sports MLB Top 50 Players of 2014: No. 12 Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Felix Hernandez is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, but because he plays in the northwest with the Seattle Mariners, the casual baseball fan doesn’t get to watch much of him. The Mariners signed Hernandez to a lucrative seven-year contract in 2013 worth $175 million; a very large contract for a small-market team to give out, but he is well worth it.

In 2013, Hernandez went 12-10 with a 3.04 ERA. Like most seasons, Hernandez threw over 200 hundred innings, with 204.1 innings pitched. 2013 was a career year for Hernandez with strikeouts. For his career, he averages 8.40 K/9, but posted 9.51 K/9 in 2013. Unlike most pitchers with great strikeout rates, the Mariners’ ace is able to limit walks, as well. In 2013, Hernandez allowed just 2.03 BB/9, and has allowed just 2.59 BB/9 throughout his nine-year career.

Hernandez’s 3.04 ERA is impressive, but according to his 2.66 xFIP, Hernandez pitched better than his traditional statistics say he did. Hernandez posted a very impressive 51.4 percent ground-ball rate last season, and also allowed just 0.66 HR/9. For the duration of his career, Hernandez has always been a pitcher that gets a lot of ground balls (54 percent) and that doesn’t allow many hitters to leave the park against him (0.72 HR/9).

Not only does Hernandez prevent runs and limit base-runners, but he also finishes what he starts. Of his 269 career starts, 23 of them have been complete games and nine of them have been shutouts. Any team could use a horse at the front of their rotation, and the Mariners must feel incredibly lucky to have him for the next several years.