Best of 2012:  Pitchers

Jonathan Daniel

Pitching did the Reds a good deal of good in 2012. Which good Reds' pitcher was gooder than the rest?

Last week, we voted for the Reds' best position player. It was a hotly-contested race, as there were numerous guys who could make a decent claim on the distinction. Brandon Phillips garnered 34% of the vote to take home the golden taco. Joey Votto gets the silver taco with 25% of the vote, and Ryan Hanigan wins the bronze taco with 14% of the vote. I'm hungry.

So now we'll take a look at the pitchers. As a whole, the pitching staff this season was the best I have ever seen. Of the pitchers who threw more than 20 innings, Mike Leake was the only one with an ERA over 4.00 (and his was a decent 4.58). But unlike the position players, there are really only two pitchers even worth mentioning here. But boy oh boy, are they ever worth mentioning. Boooooooy, howdy. Darn tootin', yessiree Bob.

The starter vs. closer debate has raged for years. The way pitchers are used has changed dramatically over the past few decades, mostly due to the save stat and the emergence of one-inning closers. This year, the award for Reds Best Pitcher serves as a microcosm proxy war for that battle. Here ya go:

Johnny Cueto

IP ERA+ WHIP K/9 BB/9 FIP bWAR fWAR
217 152 1.171 7.1 2.0 3.27 5.8 4.8

The Quantity Argument. Cueto pitched a lot, and he pitched really well. His 152 ERA+ was the best in baseball. He won 19 games and gobbled up 217 innings. Ace? Ace. He is a fer sher ace, and the best since Rijo. The backbone of this club was the starting rotation, with four guys throwing 200+ innings. And in that rotation, Cueto was a Titan among giants.

Aroldis Chapman

IP ERA+ WHIP K/9 BB/9 FIP bWAR fWAR
71⅔ 282 0.809 15.3 2.9 1.55 3.6 3.3

The Quality Argument. Chapman's season was truly historic. If you are the kind to dig on closers, you probably have an entire wall in your bedroom dedicated to this guy. His 2012 season is peppered with fantastical stats that one can usually only put up after they've beaten the game and unlocked the rocket launcher. My favorite: He gave up only five earned runs against the National League. That's, like, string theory. I mean, I'm still not quite sure what it means, or even if it's real. But it looks really neat.

But you know, take a look at that first column, the innings pitched. Cueto threw more than three times the number of innings that Chapman did. That matters. The only question then is whether or not Chapman's stratospheric performance in so few innings outshines Cueto's merely incredible performance in so many innings.

So what do you think? Do you go with the dominant ace or the lights-out shut-down closer? Are you a Shark or a Jet? Are you Cash Money Millionaires or G-Unit? Vote.

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