2015 has already proven to be a good year for Max Scherzer. A star pitcher with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-2014, Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Washington Nationals in January.
At the time the contract was somewhat controversial. Besides being promised $210 million for the length of the contract, Scherzer also receives a $50 million signing bonus that will be paid out over 14 years. Broken down by year, the contract assures that he will get $10 million this year and $15 million for each of the next three seasons. He then will be paid $35 million a year in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Moreover, he could get a number of incentive payments including $250,000 if he wins the Cy Young Award or is selected the season’s or World Series’ MVP; $15,000 if he’s the MVP of the National League Championship Series, and $100,000 if he wins a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger award. He has already earned an additional $100,000 for making the All-Star team.
Graphic via washingtontimes
I’ve already noted that Scherzer won a Cy Young Award in 2013. He was also selected to the All-Star Team that season, had notched his 1,000th strikeout, was only the third pitcher in Major League Baseball history to start a season 19-1 and finished the 2013 season with a final record 21-3, the only 20-game winner in Major League baseball that year. His pitching statistics were through the roof and included a league-leading 0.97 WHIP, a 2.90 ERA, and a total of 240 strikeouts. He received 28 out of 30 first place votes for the Cy Young.
He was almost as stellar in 2014 finishing with an 18-5 record, 3.19 ERA, a 1.175 WHIP, pitched in a career-high 220-1/2 innings and struck out a career high 252 batters. He was selected to his second All-Star game.
Some may say that the Nationals paid too much, but most people who know baseball would probably say that Scherzer was worth every penny.
Scherzer deserves another CY Young Award for his pitching exploits for the Nationals this year. He was selected to the All-Star game again. He pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which would have been a perfect game if Pirate pinch hitter Jose Tabata didn’t lean into and get hit by a pitch with two-outs in the ninth inning.
Moreover, the 6-feet, 3-inch right-hander pitched a spectacular one-hitter in his previous outing against the Milwaukee Brewers. Nat’s second baseman Anthony Rendon just missed catching the Texas leaguer pop up by just inches. Imagine that! Two consecutive no-hitters missed by just inches.
As the 2015 major league baseball season moves into August, Max Scherzer’s record stands at 10-8. His ERA is 2.33, his WHIP is 0.83, and his WAR is 4.6. In 143 innings pitched he has 166 strikeouts and given up only 16 walks, 13 home runs, and 103 hits.
According to the Cy Young Tracker, which forecasts how the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will vote on the Cy Young Award, Scherzer has been leading the other contestants for most of the season. However, he now trails Zack Greinke slightly (61.3 points to 60 points). But other projections have suggested that Scherzer will pull away during the second half of the season. Steamer predicts that Scherzer will go 7-4 with 119 strikeouts in 99 innings, allowing 29 earned runs for a final ERA of 2.65. It asserts that Greinke will go 6-4 with a 3.03 ERA and 85 strikeouts. That would give Scherzer 99.4 points to Greinke’s 90.1.
Scherzer has been a team leader throughout the season. After at bats Bryce Harper often consults with him on pitches he should be expecting in certain situations. The advice has helped Harper’s performance. He has also been advising Gio Gonzalez, who is also performing well for the Nats.
Scherzer is hitting well too and boasts a .257 batting average, while holding opposing team’s batters to an average of .180. He is so proud of his hitting prowess, he lobbies Nationals’s manager Matt Williams for pinch-hitting opportunities.
So are the Nationals paying too much to Max Scherzer? As far as they are concerned, they will be paying him a whole lot more just to cover those incentives, which could include that $250,000 for winning the Cy Young.
Graphic via sidelinesapp