Just how awesome has Felix been?

Remember when Felix kicked ass in 2005 and we were all disappointed that he failed to win the Cy Young award the next year and seemed to be only above average following that? I think a lot of time people lose track of the fact that Felix is at about the age where a lot of solid pitching prospects have just entered the majors and how kickass he's really been over his entire career, not just this year.  Even the elite prospects and young pitchers like Liriano, Price, Hamels, Lincecum, you name it, aren't really even close to how much Felix has done at such a young age. Here's a list of historical WAR totals through age 23. I had to use the totals at Baseball Projection for those players who played before 2002, and though I'm not sure how the calculation differs methodologically from Fangraphs, Tango uses the historical list too and I think its accurate enough for the point to get across.


This list isn't all-encompassing, but what you'll see is players' career WAR through age 23 with their career rank and total for WAR in parentheses:


Kid Nichols: 39.2 (102.3 - 6th)

Bob Feller: 35.6 (66.0 - 31st)

Bert Blyleven: 29.3 (90.1 - 13th)

Dwight Gooden: 28.6 (47.6 - 80th)

Walter Johnson: 25.1 (127.7 - 3rd)

Felix Hernandez: 21.0

Fernando Valenzuela: 18.2 (38.2 - 144th)

Tom Seaver: 13.9 (105.3 - 4th)

Roger Clemens: 11.9 (128.4 - 2nd)

Pedro Martinez: 10.2 (75.1 - 23rd)

Greg Maddux: 9.8 (96.8 - 8th)

Tim Lincecum: 3.2

Bob Gibson: 1.8 (85.6 - 15th)

Cy Young: 1.7 (146.0 - 1st)

Randy Johnson: 0 (91.8 - 12th)

Pete Alexander: 0 (104.9 - 5th)

Lefty Grove: 0 (98.3 - 7th)

Phil Niekro: 0 (96.8 - 9th)

Curt Schilling: -0.1 (69.7 - 28th)

Gaylord Perry: -0.7 (96.3 - 10th)

Warren Spahn: -0.9 (93.4 - 11th)

Christy Matthewson: -0.9 (87.7 - 14th)


* * *

Now its pretty clear from this list that a hot start by age 23 doesn't necessarily correlate much with one's career total. However the bottom line, Felix is pacing some damn impressive company so far and there's a relatively significant non-zero chance that 50 years from now he'll be remembered as one of the best to throw the ball. I don't think anyone thinks he's near to his peak yet either. Cherish it.


Side note: I had no idea Blyleven was so awesome so young. He's also the only HoF-eligible pitcher in the top 29 all-time for WAR that's not in. Sigh.

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