COMMENTARY | Second year New York Mets' pitcher Matt Harvey is enjoying a terrific season. If not for his outstanding performance day in and day out, it's scary to think where the already 31-43 Mets would be right now. With the All-Star Game around the corner (July 16), it's only natural to start building a case for Harvey representing the National League on the hill. Below are five reasons why Matt Harvey should be an All-Star.
1. He's leading the league in important pitching categories. Harvey is currently leading the league in ERA (2.05), WHIP (0.88), strikeouts (121), and even Hits/9 (6.0). And if not for the Mets' poor run support, Harvey's seven wins would easily be in the double-digits.
2. Even his peripherals support his surface statistics. Unlike Pittsburgh Pirates' starter Jeff Locke, whose park adjusted 4.10 xFIP exposes his career-best 2.06 ERA as pure luck, Matt Harvey is the real deal. Harvey's 2.72 xFIP upholds his Koufax-esq 2.05 ERA.
3. His determination for self-betterment and being a team player is impressive. After suffering his first loss of the season--a game in which he only surrendered one run--Harvey had the following to say in a post-game press conference:
"You guys know me, I don't like to lose. Today I needed to go out and put up zeroes and I wasn't able to do that. If I go seven with seven zeroes then we're still playing the ballgame and have a better chance of winning. Obviously, I'm not happy about losing. I don't like losing even if I don't pitch. … I can't control what the offense is doing. I can only go out there and I can pitch and try to put up as many zeroes as I can. There is no outside distractions. I have to stay focused on my job at hand. That's going out and pitching every fifth day and trying to give up no runs. The wins and losses don't mean anything to me personally. It's a matter of the team winning. Today, I didn't do my job and put up zeroes, and we got the loss."
Did that just give you chills?
4. He's fun to watch. Sure, Harvey always pitches well, but watching him work is entertainment at its best. The hard thrower averages 95.6 mph on his fastball and also boasts three other nasty pitches too (a slider, change-up, and curveball). And when he really wants (or needs to), Harvey has touched 100 mph on the gun several times.
5. He's not just all strikeouts. A lot of power pitchers go out there, and just try to blow away hitters. That strategy can sometimes work, but it's usually at the cost of walks and sometimes even home runs too. Well, not for Matt Harvey. Harvey has actually improved his control (from 3.94 BB/9 in 2012 to 1.96 BB/9 in 2013), home run rate (from 0.76 HR/9 in 2012 to 0.33 HR/9 in 2013), and has even induced more groundballs too (from 38.1 percent GB% in 2012 to 46.8 percent GB% in 2013). By not solely depending on strikeouts for outs, Harvey is ensuring himself of a long, successful career in the major leagues.
Harvey has some tough competition in Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and a host of other fantastically talented starting pitchers in the National League, but considering his production--and that the All-Star Game will take place in Citi Field--it would be a shame if the Mets' ace was not present.
Ben Berkon is a freelance sports, humor, and tech writer/blogger from New York City. Berkon's work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Onion, Bleacher Report, Bloomberg Sports, Medium, and Rising Apple, and he also manages The Beanball and Blah Blah Berkon, his personal stat-heavy baseball and humor blogs, respectively. He's [unfortunately] been a Mets follower his entire life.
Follow him at @BenBerkon.
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