Joel Pineiro Walking in Rare Company

by on August 20, 2009 · 1 comment

By now you’ve surely heard from someone, or read somewhere, or looked it up yourself.  Joel Pineiro has displayed exceptional control of his pitches this season.

In fact, entering his start in San Diego tonight, Pineiro leads MLB among qualifying pitchers in fewest walks total and fewest walks per nine innings.  Not far behind are teammate Chris Carpenter and Blue Jay Roy Halladay.

For his career, Pineiro has always had decent control, never allowing more walks than he collected strikeouts (save for an abbreviated call-up with Seattle in 2000).  This year he has taken to a new level.

Just what kind of rarefied air is Pineiro inhabiting right now?

With twenty-three starts already in the books and only sixteen bases-on-balls issued by the right-hander, Pineiro is in the company of only two other pitchers who have completed similar full seasons:

  Cnt Player             **BB**  GS Year Age Tm  Lg  G  CG SHO GF  W  L  W-L% SV   IP   H   R   ER  SO   ERA  ERA+ HR  BF   AB  2B 3B IBB HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS Pk BK WP   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  OPS+  Pit  Str
+----+-----------------+-------+---+----+---+---+--+---+--+---+--+--+--+-----+--+-----+---+---+---+---+------+----+--+----+----+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+----+----+
    1 Carlos Silva          9    27 2005  26 MIN AL  27  2   0  0  9  8  .529  0 188.1 212  83  72  71   3.44  129 25  749  730 33  1   2   3   2   5  35   7  4  0  0  0  .290  .300  .441  .741   93 2292 1636 
    2 Bret Saberhagen      13    24 1994  30 NYM NL  24  4   0  0 14  4  .778  0 177.1 169  58  54 143   2.74  152 13  696  665 37  7   0   4   9   5  17   8  4  3  0  0  .254  .271  .389  .660   75           
    3 Joel Pineiro         16    23 2009  30 STL NL  23  3   2  0 11  9  .550  0 155   158  66  56  72   3.25  129  5  622  587 42  2   0   6   9   4  21   0  2  0  0  3  .269  .294  .373  .667    0 2138 1427 

Strange to note that of the three, Bret Saberhagen is the only one who had real great success in the wins and losses columns.  Carlos Silva displayed tremendous command of his pitches in 2005, only nine walks in 188.1 innings pitched, for a ridiculously low average of 0.43 walks per nine innings.

Now, obviously Cardinal fans, management, and players alike are all hoping and expecting that Pineiro will make it through the remainder of his starts in 2009, so his numbers are still in flux.

If we project that Pineiro will make another eight starts before the end of the regular season, he will finish with 31 for the year.  Using an admittedly elementary projection for walks in those remaining games, let’s simply assume that he will maintain his current pace of walks.  At 155 innings pitched thus far in 23 starts, he’s averaging a little over 6 2/3 innings per start.  Over eight more starts, that’s 53 1/3 innings pitched.  He’s walking hitters at a rate of 0.929 per nine innings pitched, which equals about another 5.5 walks.  Round up to six the rest of this season, and we project 31 starts and 22 walks.

He gains more company at that benchmark for a full season:

  Cnt Player             **BB**  GS Year Age Tm  Lg  G  CG SHO GF  W  L  W-L% SV   IP   H   R   ER  SO   ERA  ERA+ HR  BF   AB  2B 3B IBB HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS Pk BK WP   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  OPS+  Pit  Str
+----+-----------------+-------+---+----+---+---+--+---+--+---+--+--+--+-----+--+-----+---+---+---+---+------+----+--+----+----+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+----+----+
    1 Babe Adams           18    33 1920  38 PIT NL  35 19   8  2 17 13  .567  2 263   240  83  63  84   2.16  150  6 1035                  1                        0  5                            0           
    2 David Wells          20    31 2004  41 SDP NL  31  0   0  0 12  8  .600  0 195.2 203  85  81 101   3.73  104 23  804  764 37  2   1   2  14   4  12   5  3  4  1  2  .266  .285  .410  .695   89 2805 1928 
    3 Greg Maddux          20    33 1997  31 ATL NL  33  5   2  0 19  4  .826  0 232.2 200  58  57 177   2.20  189  9  893  849 31  3   6   6  11   7  23  20  8  1  0  0  .236  .256  .311  .567   50           
    4 Bob Tewksbury        20    32 1993  32 STL NL  32  2   0  0 17 10  .630  0 213.2 258  99  91  97   3.83  103 15  907  857 42  4   1   6  15   9  17  21  6  0  0  2  .301  .318  .412  .730  101           
    5 Bob Tewksbury        20    32 1992  31 STL NL  33  5   0  1 16  5  .762  0 233   217  63  56  91   2.16  157 15  915  876 39  4   0   3   9   7  25   7  4  0  0  2  .248  .265  .353  .618   81           
    6 La Marr Hoyt         20    31 1985  30 SDP NL  31  8   3  0 16  8  .667  0 210.1 210  85  81  83   3.47  103 20  839  805 31  5   2   2   9   3  14  16  8  0  4  0  .261  .280  .386  .666   91           
    7 Christy Mathewson    21    35 1913  32 NYG NL  40 25   4  5 25 11  .694  2 306   291  94  70  93   2.06  152  8 1195                  0                        0  3                            0           

Recognize any of the names on that list?  Pretty heady company (and one that threw the eephus).

For the sake of inclusion and further comparison, let’s expand the list to those with qualifying seasons and 22 walks or fewer:

  Cnt Player             **BB** Year Age Tm  Lg  G   GS CG SHO GF  W  L  W-L% SV   IP   H   R   ER  SO   ERA  ERA+ HR  BF   AB  2B 3B IBB HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS Pk BK WP   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  OPS+  Pit  Str
+----+-----------------+-------+----+---+---+--+---+---+--+---+--+--+--+-----+--+-----+---+---+---+---+------+----+--+----+----+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+----+----+
    1 Carlos Silva          9   2005  26 MIN AL  27  27  2   0  0  9  8  .529  0 188.1 212  83  72  71   3.44  129 25  749  730 33  1   2   3   2   5  35   7  4  0  0  0  .290  .300  .441  .741   93 2292 1636 
    2 Slim Sallee          12   1918  33 NYG NL  18  16 12   1  2  8  8  .500  2 132   122  44  33  33   2.25  117  3  531                  0                        1  1                            0           
    3 Bret Saberhagen      13   1994  30 NYM NL  24  24  4   0  0 14  4  .778  0 177.1 169  58  54 143   2.74  152 13  696  665 37  7   0   4   9   5  17   8  4  3  0  0  .254  .271  .389  .660   75           
    4 Babe Adams           15   1922  40 PIT NL  27  19 12   4  4  8 11  .421  0 171.1 191  77  68  39   3.57  114  1  707                  4                        0  1                            0           
    5 Joel Pineiro         16   2009  30 STL NL  23  23  3   2  0 11  9  .550  0 155   158  66  56  72   3.25  129  5  622  587 42  2   0   6   9   4  21   0  2  0  0  3  .269  .294  .373  .667    0 2138 1427 
    6 Rick Honeycutt       17   1981  27 TEX AL  20  20  8   2  0 11  6  .647  0 127.2 120  49  47  40   3.31  104 12  509  487 18  2   1   0   5   0  18   0  2  2  0  1  .246  .272  .366  .638   87           
    7 Jon Lieber           18   2004  34 NYY AL  27  27  0   0  0 14  8  .636  0 176.2 216  95  85 102   4.33  104 20  749  718 35  3   2   2   3   7  18   2  1  0  0  7  .301  .317  .442  .759   97 2539 1781 
    8 Red Lucas            18   1933  31 CIN NL  29  29 21   3  0 10 16  .385  0 219.2 248 106  83  40   3.40  100 13  902                  2                        1  1                            0           
    9 Babe Adams           18   1921  39 PIT NL  25  20 11   2  3 14  5  .737  0 160   155  57  47  55   2.64  144  4  646                  0                        1  0                            0           
   10 Babe Adams           18   1920  38 PIT NL  35  33 19   8  2 17 13  .567  2 263   240  83  63  84   2.16  150  6 1035                  1                        0  5                            0           
   11 Bill Burns           18   1908  28 WSH AL  23  19 11   2  1  6 11  .353  0 165   135  58  31  55   1.69  136  3  612                  4                        0  1                            0           
   12 Dennis Eckersley     19   1985  30 CHC NL  25  25  6   2  0 11  7  .611  0 169.1 145  61  58 117   3.08  128 15  664  634 25  4   4   3   6   2   7  13  8  4  3  0  .229  .254  .352  .606   66           
   13 Chris Carpenter      20   2009  34 STL NL  20  20  2   0  0 13  3  .813  0 138.2 114  36  35 105   2.27  185  7  536  502 21  4   1   5   6   3  14   2  3  0  0  1  .227  .262  .327  .589    0 1882 1258 
   14 David Wells          20   2004  41 SDP NL  31  31  0   0  0 12  8  .600  0 195.2 203  85  81 101   3.73  104 23  804  764 37  2   1   2  14   4  12   5  3  4  1  2  .266  .285  .410  .695   89 2805 1928 
   15 David Wells          20   2003  40 NYY AL  31  30  4   1  0 15  7  .682  0 213   242 101  98 101   4.14  106 24  887  846 54  3   0   8   6   7  18  16  5  4  0  3  .286  .306  .442  .748   96 3002 2122 
   16 Greg Maddux          20   1997  31 ATL NL  33  33  5   2  0 19  4  .826  0 232.2 200  58  57 177   2.20  189  9  893  849 31  3   6   6  11   7  23  20  8  1  0  0  .236  .256  .311  .567   50           
   17 Bob Tewksbury        20   1993  32 STL NL  32  32  2   0  0 17 10  .630  0 213.2 258  99  91  97   3.83  103 15  907  857 42  4   1   6  15   9  17  21  6  0  0  2  .301  .318  .412  .730  101           
   18 Bob Tewksbury        20   1992  31 STL NL  33  32  5   0  1 16  5  .762  0 233   217  63  56  91   2.16  157 15  915  876 39  4   0   3   9   7  25   7  4  0  0  2  .248  .265  .353  .618   81           
   19 La Marr Hoyt         20   1985  30 SDP NL  31  31  8   3  0 16  8  .667  0 210.1 210  85  81  83   3.47  103 20  839  805 31  5   2   2   9   3  14  16  8  0  4  0  .261  .280  .386  .666   91           
   20 Herb Pennock         20   1930  36 NYY AL  25  19 11   1  3 11  7  .611  0 156.1 194  95  75  46   4.32  100  8  676                  0                        0  4                            0           
   21 Slim Sallee          20   1919  34 CIN NL  29  28 22   4  1 21  7  .750  0 227.2 221  63  52  24   2.06  134  4  893                  1                        0  0                            0           
   22 Christy Mathewson    20   1915  34 NYG NL  27  24 11   1  1  8 14  .364  0 186   199  97  74  57   3.58   71  9  768                  1                        0  1                            0           
   23 David Wells          21   2005  42 BOS AL  30  30  2   0  0 15  7  .682  0 184   220  95  91 107   4.45  102 21  780  743 41  3   0   9   1   6  22   8  5  4  1  4  .296  .321  .444  .765   98 2780 1937 
   24 Shane Reynolds       21   1994  26 HOU NL  33  14  1   1  5  8  5  .615  0 124   128  46  42 110   3.05  130 10  517  486 13  4   3   6   4   0  12   7  3  2  2  3  .263  .302  .368  .670   83           
   25 Christy Mathewson    21   1913  32 NYG NL  40  35 25   4  5 25 11  .694  2 306   291  94  70  93   2.06  152  8 1195                  0                        0  3                            0           
+----+-----------------+-------+----+---+---+--+---+---+--+---+--+--+--+-----+--+-----+---+---+---+---+------+----+--+----+----+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+----+----+
  Cnt Player             **BB** Year Age Tm  Lg  G   GS CG SHO GF  W  L  W-L% SV   IP   H   R   ER  SO   ERA  ERA+ HR  BF   AB  2B 3B IBB HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS Pk BK WP   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  OPS+  Pit  Str
+----+-----------------+-------+----+---+---+--+---+---+--+---+--+--+--+-----+--+-----+---+---+---+---+------+----+--+----+----+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+----+----+
   26 Bill Reidy           21   1903  29 TOT ML  20  18 16   1  1  7 11  .389  0 147   183  85  59  29   3.61   86  1  628                  9                        0  4                            0           
   27 Bill Bernhard        21   1903  32 CLE AL  20  19 18   3  1 14  6  .700  0 165.2 151  62  39  60   2.12  134  1  657                  0                        0  2                            0           
   28 Bob Tewksbury        22   1994  33 STL NL  24  24  4   1  0 12 10  .545  0 155.2 190  97  92  79   5.32   79 19  667  626 42  6   1   3  12   4  13  14  3  0  0  1  .304  .328  .481  .809  115           
   29 Hal Brown            22   1960  35 BAL AL  30  20  6   1  5 12  5  .706  0 159   155  61  54  66   3.06  124 14  635  600 24  9   3   1   5   7  16   6  3  0  0  3  .258  .283  .398  .681   89           
   30 Tiny Bonham          22   1945  31 NYY AL  23  23 12   0  0  8 11  .421  0 180.2 186  72  66  42   3.29  105 11  736                  1                        0  0                            0           
   31 George Smith         22   1918  26 TOT NL  23  13  9   1  8  8  7  .533  0 132   140  62  50  41   3.41   80  3  535                  3                        0  6                            0           
   32 Dale Gear            22   1901  29 WSH AL  24  16 14   1  8  4 11  .267  1 163   199 100  73  35   4.03   91  9    0                  4                        0  0                            0           

Still not a very long list, and only about half of those seasons from the modern era.

Can he keep it up for another eight starts for the Cardinals?

Perhaps more importantly, can the poor guy get some wins for the way he’s pitched this season?

We’d love to hear from the readers on this one… is Pineiro having an all-time kind of season with few walks, or just getting lucky?  What impresses you more on these lists – the few times such a season has been accomplished, or the company Pineiro is keeping by exhibiting such control?

Here’s hoping for more from “Good” Joel tonight…

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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