Jan 11, 2008

Comparing no-hitters

I don't know how anyone can definitively say Clay Buchholz is a better prospect than Phil Hughes. Having finally watched Buchholz' no-hitter from September 1, I came away with mixed feelings. He didn't start out well; there were several hard hit balls in the first few innings (can't speak for the 2nd as MLB.tv wouldn't show it for some reason) with hardly any swings-and-misses. He got better however as the game progressed, finally showing good command of his curve and fastball.

Phil Hughes' 6.1 inning no-hitter was next on my playlist. We all know the tragic ending, but while it lasted Hughes looked the better pitcher. He commanded his fastball much better, had a more consistent curve and flashed a few good changeups. He allowed hardly any hard hit balls and seemed to have a few more swings-and-misses.

Buchholz' fastball ranged from 87-94 mph with average command. Hughes' from 86-96 with good command. Their curves were pretty comparable. Buchholz definitely had the better changeup. He also threw a few sliders which were comparable to Hughes'. Why Hughes gets downgraded is the post-injury effect; the Texas game was his true, healthy self - the fastball was faster, the curve had sharper break and he kept the ball down in the zone (8 grounders to 3 flyballs). Buchholz' pitches often tended to fly high in the zone (5 grounders to 11 flyballs). And Hughes did his thing in May, just 20 years old, while Buchholz was 23 for his no-hitter.

Also, Texas featured a slightly better lineup (team OPS+ of 98) than Baltimore (team OPS+ of 96).

Don't get me wrong. Buchholz looks like a very good pitcher, but he's been overrated because of one great game. I just see a better career for Hughes.

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