Today, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick hands out some midseason awards and he names Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana the best 1-2 punch in baseball. I beg to differ.
Don’t get me wrong, Santana is the real deal, boasting 99 strikeouts and only 28 walks. And Saunders is on a heck of a run, to be sure. But I don’t think we can rank him among baseball’s elite starters just because he’s won a lot of games. He’s got 49 strikeouts, which doesn’t even place him among the top 100 on the leader board. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a pedestrian 2:1. And, frankly, he’s been more lucky than good this first half, with a babip of .241. You think that’s gonna last? Me neither.
What about Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, who Crasnick awarded an honorable mention? Between them they have 175 Ks (Santana and Saunders have 148). Haren has a K/BB ratio of better than 5:1. Webb’s is nearly 4:1. If we’re going by wins, which is a terrible way to evaluate a pitcher, Santana and Saunders have a one win advantage. But that’s pretty much the only advantage they have.
I think Santana and Saunders have been great so far. But I think Haren and Webb have been a little better. And I think they’ll continue to be an elite 1-2 punch going forward.
Who’s going to win the award for best 1-2 punch when it’s handed out in September? I think the Angels pitchers are likely to keep the prize, but not the same Angels pitchers. Santana might just maintain his dominance, but look for John Lackey to supplant Saunders as the ace of the staff. Other candidates to win best 1-2 punch when it’s handed out in September: Roy Halladay and Shaun Marcum, Rich Harden and Justin Duchscherer, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, and Josh Beckett and Dice-K.