Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moyer Deserves to Be Honored


Jamie Moyer is having a season that baseball fans could talk about for many years. The 47-year-old veteran starting pitcher is pitching like he is in his prime, delivering the steadiness that the Phillies greatly need in their rotation.

On Sunday, Moyer reached 4,000 career innings pitched, with a scoreless second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. In the very next frame, Moyer served up a homerun ball to clean up batter Vernon Wells, which set a new all-time record for homeruns allowed with 506. Moyer surpassed Phillies Hall of Famer Robin Roberts for the top spot in that category. While he stands alone in allowing big flies, Moyer is among 40 total pitchers to ever throw 4,000 Major League innings.

Lately, the frequency of debates over Moyer's eligibility for the Hall of Fame seem to have increased, as he climbs up historical leader boards and achieves various milestones. Perhaps crowning Moyer in a class of the all-time greatest ballplayers ever is premature. Remarkable longevity is noteworthy, but not quite deserving of such enormous regard. If Moyer were to reach one of those unofficial "Hall of Fame Lock" plateaus, like 300 wins, any debate could easily disappear. However, discussion of Moyer's 2010 statistics befitting an all-star nod may be a more appropriate right now.

The left-handed Moyer bounced back from two off-season surgeries to post impressive stats this season.

Excluding a horrible outing on June 11th against the Red Sox, where he allowed 9 earned runs in just 1 official inning pitched, Moyer has been outstanding in his past 9 starts. During that stretch, Moyer has posted a 6-3 record with a 2.48 ERA. Moyer's 1.05 WHIP this season is tied for fifth best in the National League among pitchers with at least 75 innings pitched. He is also tied with Roy Halladay for the team lead in wins, with 9. In 7 starts at Citizens Bank Park this year, Moyer is holding opponents to a .176 batting average and has posted a 2.94 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP.

Moyer's lone career all-star appearance came in 2003 at age 40, when he won 21 games for the Mariners. Currently, the oldest player to participate in a MLB all-star game was Satchell Paige, at 47 years 7 days old in 1953. Moyer is more than 7 months older than Paige was for the Mid-summer Classic in 1953. In Moyer's favor...Charlie Manuel will manage the National League all-star team and will have some say in who makes the roster. Many phans will remember when Charlie chose Jayson Werth to fill an injury void left by Carlos Beltran in 2009. The same sort of favor could be shown for the Phils' eldest pitcher this time around.

With the stats and the selection process on his side, there is still one thing that could prevent Moyer from becoming the oldest all-star participant...a new rule. The stipulation states that if a player pitches on the Sunday before the all-star break, he is not eligible to pitch in the all-star game. He would still be an all-star, but an active hurler would be chosen to replace him. Barring any changes to the Phillies' rotation, Moyer will pitch twice before the all-star break...this coming Thursday against Pittsburgh and Wednesday, July 7th in Philadelphia against Atlanta. That same rule could benefit Moyer as well. For example, if Moyer is left off the initial NL roster, but a chosen all-star pitches on July 11th, Moyer could be selected to fill that pitcher's spot.

Many writers have written about Moyer this season, using loads of different adjectives to describe him. Among the descriptives...timeless, age-defying, enduring and immortal. I'll just stick with "All-star" to describe Jamie Moyer right now and save those others for some later milestone achievement, record setting accomplishment or after his retirement.
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