One advanced metric says he's baseball's top pitcher. Mike Minor isn't buying it

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/texas/" data-ylk="slk:Texas Rangers">Texas Rangers</a> veteran lefty <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8781/" data-ylk="slk:Mike Minor">Mike Minor</a> ranks first among all pitchers in bWAR (7.0). (Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)
Texas Rangers veteran lefty Mike Minor ranks first among all pitchers in bWAR (7.0). (Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — Mike Minor is in a class of his own.

At least according to “Baseball-Reference WAR,” which ranks Minor as the top pitcher in all of major-league baseball this season (7.0).

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Just don’t tell Minor that he’s No. 1.

Because even after pitching 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the mighty New York Yankees on Monday, the Texas Rangers veteran southpaw wasn’t buying it.

“I don’t know how they (calculate) that, because it doesn’t make any sense to me,” Minor said after the Rangers ended the Yankees’ 220-game run scoring streak in a 7-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.

“You look at the guys over there in Houston — Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander — and I feel like those guys dominate every game. And I feel like they look better than me.”

As far as bWAR is concerned, Verlander registers at 6.7, with Cole at 4.7. And on Sunday and Monday, they became the first pitchers to record 14 or more strikeouts in back-to-back games for the same team since 1893.

Cody Bellinger ranks first in bWAR (8.2), while Mike Trout is second (8.1). Then comes Minor.

For what it’s worth, FanGraphs WAR ranks Minor 13th among all pitchers (4.0). His teammate, Lance Lynn, tops that list (6.0).

Ultimately, advanced metrics are a very useful tool when it comes to evaluating players. And Minor — who played his college ball at Vanderbilt — isn’t the first player to wonder how and why, exactly, he ranks where he does.

Regardless, on Monday, the 31-year-old lefty didn’t throw a pitch faster than Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier’s 96.5 mph bullet to the plate that nailed Elvis Andrus as he tried to score in the fifth.

But his four-pitch mix — and 92.4 mph average fastball velocity (high of 94.5) — was more than good enough to dominate the Yankees, who hadn’t been shut out since June 30, 2018 against Boston. Their 220-game run scoring streak was the second-longest in the modern era. The Yankees scored in 308 consecutive games from 1931-33.

During their most recent streak, there were 368 shutouts in the majors — including 12 by Yankee pitchers.

“Someone told me that,” Minor said. “Pretty cool.”

On the season, Minor is 12-8 with a 3.12 ERA and 180 strikeouts in 28 starts.

Just two years ago, he was pitching — very effectively — out of the bullpen in Kansas City.

But near the 2019 trade deadline, he was a wanted man. And as reports continued to surface, his performance declined.

The Rangers ultimately kept him.

But even recently, he had suffered consecutive poor outings against the Angels heading into his start in The Bronx.

“I’ve been in trade rumors before, but I guess that was more intense,” Minor said. “First time going through all that and having to answer questions from these guys all the time every day. And as much as I wanted to put it out of my mind, it was there every day.

“So it was a little bit difficult to get through that and then pitch. But once it passed by I knew I was going to be here. It feels good to be here — and it felt good to be wanted — but at the end of the day nothing happened.”

Either way, Mike Minor doesn’t feel like the best pitcher in baseball — even if one advanced metric suggests otherwise.

“I mean, just hard work,” Minor said when asked about his career resurgence. “I never felt like I was a slouch out there, so I’m just having a good year, I guess.”

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