If Randy Johnson Had Been a Reliever . . .

Since 1900, there have been 700 major league pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings between ages 34 and 36. Two of those 700 had more than 12.0 K/9IP and fewer than 4.0 B/9IP.

One of those two was Randy Johnson.

Johnson’s numbers from ages 34 through 36:

K/9:  12.24

BB/9:  2.73

HR/9:  0.89

FIP   2.73

The following year, at age 37, Johnson had these numbers:

K/9:  13.4

BB/9:  2.56

HR/9:  0.68

ERA:  2.49

FIP:  2.13

WAR: 10.4

In that season, at age 37, Johnson won the Nationl League Cy Young Award.

The only other pitcher, since 1900, who pitched more than 100 innings from ages 34 through 36 and had more than 12.0 K/9IP and fewer than 4.0 BB/9IP was Pittsburgh Pirate Jason Grilli.

I’m not saying that Grilli has been as good as Randy Johnson over the past three seasons. Johnson was a starter who pitched 764.2 innings from age 34 through age 36. Grilli is a reliever who pitched141 innings over the last three seasons. Johnson may have been even better as a reliever who rarely had to pitch more than one inning in a game.

But the fact that Randy Johnson is the only other pitcher – starter or reliever – in 114 years to put up those K and BB numbers, from age 34 through age 36, tells you just how truly great Jason Grilli has been over the past three seasons.

Here is the side-by-side comparison of Johnson and Grilli at those ages:

Johnson  /  Grilli

K/9:   12.24  /  12.80

BB/9:  2.73  /  3.18

HR/9:  0.89  /  0.83

ERA:  2.79  /  2.74

FIP:  2.73  /  2.62

I’m not predicting that Jason Grill is going to win the National League Cy Young Award at age 37 in 2014 – as Randy Johnson did in 2001. But there is little reason to think that he won’t have another excellent season.

The SABERBUCS 2014 Projection for Jason Grilli

IP:   49

K/9:  13.0

BB/9:  3.05

HR/9:  0.8

xFIP/ERA:  2.62

WAR: 1.0

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