It is funny how we form impressions of people based on the latest news or views. Mention Zack Greinke and you will probably envision a quirky Eddie Lopat-ish fluff ball tosser, who somehow gets by. (And you may have to ask your great grandparents about Eddie Lopat, cause your parents and grandparents may not know).
But Zack used to be a much harder thrower, who has morphed into a consummate pitcher as his speed fell off, but his accuracy and guile improved. And if I say that Zack is one of the two best active pitchers in career stats (the other being Justin Verlander) that might surprise you.
Greinke just finished his 17th season in the majors, while Verlander just completed his 16th season, even though Greinke is 8 months younger. So, they are two of the most experienced pitchers in baseball and mirror each other in multiple ways. In fact, in many categories, they are squeezed together closely, so close that a good showing by Greinke in 2021 may allow him to ease ahead of the likely non-pitching Verlander in some of them. Here’s a look at just some of their career marks.
- Greinke is 2nd among active pitchers in career WAR with 67.1. First is Verlander with 72.3, which Zack may approach but will probably still trail after 2021. He may also get passed by third-place Clayton Kershaw who is on his heels at 67.0. If you look at overall WAR including Greinke’s quite accomplished hitting, he is third among all players with 72.2 behind Mike Trout (74.6) and Albert Pujols (100.7) .
- Greinke’s career ERA is 3.37, just behind Verlander at 3.33.
- Greinke is 2nd among active pitchers with 208 wins and should close the gap on #1 – Verlander at 226.
- Greinke is also 2nd among actives with 2939 innings and will likely pass JV and his 2988 innings.
- Greinke is third among actives with 2689 K’s and is not likely to catch Max Scherzer (2784) or Verlander (3013).
- Greinke is 1st in games started among actives with 459 starts and won’t be caught by the injured JV (454) or the not injured Jon Lester (423).
Zack has some strong numbers throughout his career. He has won one Cy Young with the Royals (2009), came in second with the Dodgers (2015) and has been in the top 10 in voting 5 times in his career. He is a 6 time All Star, a 6 time Gold Glove winner and a two time Silver Slugger as a hitter despite only spending 7 seasons in the NL.
Greinke has improved with age. His run between 2013 and 2019 (from age 29 to 35) sported a 114-45 record and a 2.90 ERA. He is extremely accomplished in everything he does on the field, including controlling at least 6 different pitches (Four-seamer, two-seamer, curveball, changeup, cutter and slider) with that changeup that often travels in the 50’s mph getting a lot of attention. His hitting has also gotten him noticed, which also improved with age. When he was traded from the D’Backs to the Astros he was hitting .271 BA/ .883 OPS with 3 HRs and 8 RBIs. Anyone who watched him fielding over the last couple of seasons will marvel on what he does to help himself.
Yes, Greinke is quirky. He is an oddball, yet interesting interview. He is a great pitcher and the Astros and their young pitching studs are lucky to have him on their staff as an example of how to pitch rather than throw.