American League showcasing elite pitching talent

Otto Greule Jr

Has anyone scanned through the list of pitching leaders this year? It's full of pitchers putting up numbers that strike me as pretty amazing even when one accounts for the small sample sizes involved. And -- Matt Harvey's ridiculous performances tonight and throughout the season aside -- most of the really amazing performances are coming from the American League.

Overall, National League pitching staffs are averaging 4.21 runs per game, whereas American League pitching staffs average 4.38 runs per game. That difference is pretty much what we'd expect, since the AL has the DH. So it isn't as if AL pitchers in general have been that dominant. Instead, it's a concentration of power at the very top. It's likely that this partially small-sample-size-driven, but not entirely, given the track records of some of the pitchers involved. Three of this year's top six in pitching WAR (Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Felix Hernandez) were in last year's top six as well.

Here are the major league leaders in pitching WAR so far this season.

1. Anibal Sanchez, Tigers 2.0
2. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox 2.0
3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 2.0
4. Yu Darvish, Rangers 1.9
5. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 1.9
6. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 1.6
7. Max Scherzer, Tigers 1.6
8. James Shields, Royals 1.5
9. Derek Holland, Rangers 1.5
10. Matt Harvey, Mets 1.3

This doesn't include Harvey's performance tonight, which obviously will bump him up a fair amount. And the next five pitchers on the list (including A.J. Burnett at No. 12) are all from the NL. But still -- five of the top 10 pitchers in WAR pitch for the Tigers or Rangers. (The Tigers also have No. 16, Doug Fister.) And three others from the top ten are also from the American League.

Anyway, the Pirates face No. 6 on the list Wednesday afternoon. They'll send out Burnett to face him, but still -- good luck to them.

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