Nats Fans: How Great is Max Scherzer? Pretty Great!

Max Scherzer
Clayton Kershaw

By James A. Kidney

Max Scherzer is having a great year for the Nationals.  He seems headed toward his third Cy Young trophy for best pitcher in the National League.  I wondered how he stacks up against one of his best contemporaries, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, and a couple of historic greats, Cy Young himself and Walter Johnson, the best

pitcher in the history of Washington professional baseball teams, excluding the Negro Leagues.  Here is the data, courtesy of

Comparing Scherzer with the greats:

  Cy Young Walter Johnson Clayton Kershaw Max Scherzer
Career ERA 2.6 2.2 2.4 3.3
W-L % 0.618 0.599 0.692 0.646
Hits/9 innings 9 8 7 8
SO/9 innings 3.4 5.3 9.9 10
W/9 innings 2.3 2.57 2.4 2.5
HR/9 innings 0.2 0.1 0.2 1
WHIP* 1.13 1.061 0.999 1.12
*WHIP:  Walks plus hits per inning.

All four pitchers are fairly comparable.  Scherzer does better than the other four only in strikeouts per nine innings, barely beating the Dodger’s Kerhsaw. (These numbers for Kershaw and Scherzer are through yesterday).  But let’s look at his numbers for only his Washington career, since the 2015 season began:

Scherzer with the Nats

ERA (2015-17)                       2.7

W-L % (2015-17)                   0.647

Hits/9 innings                          6

SO/9 innings                           11

W/9 innings                             1,8

HR/9 innings                           1.1

WHIP                                      0.907

Washington has been very, very good to Max, and he has been very, very good for Washington.  His ERA is much better, but still fourth compared to the career records for Young (22 years), Johnson (21 years) and Kershaw, who, like Scherzer, entered the majors in 2008. But Scherzer’s control beats everybody since he came to Washington.  He is best of the four for hits allowed during his Washington years and far exceeds the other three in strikeouts.  His WHIP is the lowest of all four players.  He also allows the fewest walks, but pays for putting the ball over the plate with a higher number of home runs. (We note in his defense the ball is livelier than in the olden days of Young and Johnson, but Kershaw allows far fewer playing in Scherzer’s era).

Anyway you cut it, however, if Max continues his career as he has in Washington, he will be among the greatest pitchers ever.

So what's your view on these issues? Send a comment.

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