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Wilson-mania
2003-09-24 08:44
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Out of nowhere - which I guess is appropriate - Wilson Alvarez has hurled himself into National League Comeback Player of the Year candidacy.

Who's your pick?

Wilson Alvarez, 2002: 23 games, 10 starts, 75 innings, 36 walks, 56 strikeouts, 5.28 ERA
Wilson Alvarez, 2003: 19 games, 10 starts, 86 innings, 20 walks, 76 strikeouts, 1.99 ERA

Kevin Brown, 2002: 17 games, 10 starts, 63 2/3 innings, 23 walks, 58 strikeouts, 4.81 ERA
Kevin Brown, 2003: 31 games, 31 starts, 204 innings, 52 walks, 182 strikeouts, 2.43 ERA

Okay, it's still Brown - and by the way, there are no other candidates outside of these two. But Alvarez has been incredible. He continues to lead the league in post-All Star Game ERA, at 1.17.

John Wiebe at John's Dodger Blog e-mailed me overnight with this:

Wilson Alvarez : 2003 :: Terry Adams : 2001

Discuss.

Wilson's going to land another multi-year deal from somebody this off-season. I just hope it's not from L.A.

Seriously, this has got to be the biggest surprise since Lo Duca's 2001 season, but it can't be anything more than a fluke. Still, as I'm writing on my site today, the vicissitudes of good fortune have only swung our way when it is least convenient.

I'm writing this before John's Wednesday morning post, but with that caveat, I definitely agree about the surprise part, but I'm not sure about the fluke part. Why?

Hideo Nomo's ERA, year-by-year
1995: 2.54
1996: 3.19
1997: 4.25
1998: 4.92
1999: 4.54
2000: 4.74
2001: 4.50
2002: 3.39 (age 33)
2003: 2.98

Wilson Alvarez's ERA, year-by-year
1989: 81.00
1991: 3.52
1992: 5.20
1993: 2.95
1994: 3.45
1995: 4.32
1996: 4.22
1997: 3.48
1998: 4.73
1999: 4.22
2002: 5.28
2003: 1.99 (age 33)

Both pitchers went through a dead-arm period. Both pitchers are now operating in perhaps the best pitching environment in baseball.

No, I wouldn't expect Alvarez to return in 2004 with a sub-2.00 ERA. And few pitchers in this day and age deserve a contract beyond two or three years.

I'm no fan of bidding wars, but I'd certainly want to sign Alvarez for two years if the price were right. He's a year and a half younger than Nomo, his strikeout rate is at a career-high 7.95 per nine innings, and he has much fewer innings under his wide belt in the past four seasons.

As for Terry Adams, he was a career reliever who was converted (forced by circumstance) into being a starter. I don't know that he's as valid a choice for comparison.

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