The Strong and Silent Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright flies under the radar.  In an era of 100 mph fastballs and bat flips and harrowing tales of escape from danger, and big market TV media exposure, Adam Wainwright quietly does his job and is awesome while doing it.  I bet if you asked the average baseball fan who are the best pitchers in baseball, Adam Wainwright would get nary a mention (except by Cardinals fans).  Names like Kershaw, Verlander, Scherzer, Fernandez and perhaps Darvish and Tanaka would likely pop up.  You might hear Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, David Price, or even Matt Harvey, currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Adam Wainwright doesn’t elicit the kind of recognition that those names do.  He doesn’t play in Los Angeles or New York.  He doesn’t throw a 97-100 mph fastball.  He doesn’t have a tantalizing personal story, unless you call growing up with a single mother in a quiet Georgia town and being a hard-working, respected and generous human being a tantalizing personal story. He isn’t flamboyant on the mound and he doesn’t do bat flips.  He doesn’t date models (he’s happily married) and he doesn’t make headlines for his off the field lifestyle.

Most of all, he has never won a Cy Young award.  He has come very close 3 times in his career.  In 2009 he lost out to Tim Lincecum, who had won the year before.  In an oddity that made people scratch their heads, Wainwright got the most 1st place votes for the award, but ended up placing 3rd in the final tally.  Some believe he lost the award because he split votes with his teammate, Chris Carpenter, who finished second.  In 2010, Wainwright lost out to Roy Halladay, who was fantastic that year and deserved the award.  Wainwright finished second.  In 2013, he also finished second to Clayton Kershaw, a second time winner and a stud pitcher who deserved to win.

Wainwright is second in ERA+ in MLB among all active pitchers, ahead of all the aforementioned names except Kershaw.  He is 4th among all active pitchers in Win-Loss %, ahead of all aforementioned pitchers except Verlander.  Among all the aforementioned pitchers he is 5th in WHIP, behind Kershaw and Price, and 2nd in FIP behind Kershaw.

Yet despite all of his stellar numbers, he is still little known and gets little media exposure on the national level.  When the national media talking heads do their “best” lists, Wainwright rarely, if ever, cracks the top 5 and sometimes doesn’t even make the top 10.

Last season it was all about Clayton Kershaw.  Don’t get the wrong idea, I love Kershaw, he is my favorite non-Cardinal pitcher and perhaps my favorite non-Cardinal player.  Kershaw deserves all the accolades he gets, but I sometimes wonder if he wouldn’t get as much attention as he does if he didn’t play for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Kershaw is a lot like Wainwright in personality, not flamboyant, low key personal life, generous with his time and money off the field.  Who knows.

This season, the national media can’t get enough of Jose Fernandez.  A young, flamboyant fireballer, Fernandez is extremely talented and has what all media types drool over, an interesting back story of a harrowing escape from Cuba.  He does bat flips too, OMG!

Adam Wainwright silently does his job and is awesome.  Every year it is always someone else who grabs the media’s attention.   Wainwright won’t have a movie made about his life.  The media won’t write a lot of stories about him.  He won’t be talked about a lot on ESPN or MLB Network or Fox Sports.  Maybe, just maybe, if he wins a Cy Young award this year he will get the praise and respect he deserves.  He certainly won’t get it if he doesn’t.

The thing is, I doubt if he really cares.  The strong, silent types rarely do seek the spotlight.

In my book, that makes him even more awesome.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

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6 Comments

  1. baseballmania

     /  May 10, 2014

    Often wondered myself why he rarely got more attention than he deserves.

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  2. Jerry Modene

     /  May 11, 2014

    My recollection is that he ranked pretty high on MLB Network’s programming, especially the ones that ranked the current best at each position “right now”. Of course, that series rated Matt Holliday the best left fielder in MLB, so it can’t be taken seriously (insert blue font here).

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    • I don’t get MLB Network so I wouldn’t know. I do have a SIRIUS subscription and listen to the radio version and the highest Wainwright ranked by any of their analysts was 9th. A couple of them had him closer to 20th.

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  3. Jerry Modene

     /  May 11, 2014

    Unfortunately, I didn’t record those shows – BTW, they rated Molina the best catcher in MLB – but I’ll see if I can find them in their archives.

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  4. Jerry Modene

     /  May 11, 2014

    Found it in their video archives.

    Smoltz rated him #9. “The Shredder” rated him #8. Bill James rated him #4.

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    • James probably ranked him higher because he takes more stock in stats like ERA+ and FIP, where Wainwright is second in MLB.

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