Andy Sonnanstine, 2008: 121 tRA+
Johan Santana, 2008: 120 tRA+
True talent? Of course not, that's silly. Andy Sonnanstine is not as good of a player as Johan Santana. But for the duration of 2008, he pitched like he is. ERA be damned.
While Sonnanstine commands a fair bit of attention, much of it is due to the rare genetic disorder that causes him to age at a rate three times that of a normal adult. He most certainly doesn't get enough attention for his pitching. Granted, it would've been easy to miss Sonnanstine a year ago, since he was a 13th-round draft pick pitching for a small market bottom-feeder in front of a terrible defense, but he was a good player then and he's even better now. Yet people simply haven't noticed. For all the talk from every corner about the Cinderella Rays, Andy Sonnanstine has been overlooked by just about everybody. Even by his own team's fans.
He's good. Possibly really good, in fact, depending on your scale. He's not good in a sexy, powerful way; he's good in a Kevin Slowey way, or perhaps more appropriately, a Jeff-Weaver-in-the-middle-third-of-2007 way. With Sonnanstine, it's not about the fastball. It's not about heat. It's about pinpoint command, pitch mixing, and Weaver brother arm action. And just because his style isn't classically handsome doesn't make it any less effective. Johan wasn't the only big name he outpitched.
~Average groundballs + ~average missed bats + vicious routine assaults of the strike zone = one heck of a starter. I just wonder when people are going to see that. If ever. He and Jered Weaver aren't really all that different, but Weaver gets all the attention because he was a high pick who's been talked about for years. Sonnanstine's no worse (and arguably better), but since he came out of nowhere, he's still a nobody, and he's probably going to remain a nobody until he does something other than simply pitch well for peanuts. Which isn't really fair. Or at least it wouldn't really be fair if there were any indication that Sonnanstine gave a shit either way.
Andy Sonnanstine isn't my favorite pitcher in the league, but he's up there on the list. I like a guy who isn't blessed with great stuff, because it's the guys who survive with mediocre fastballs who you know have taken the time to figure out how to succeed. Andy Sonnanstine has figured out how to succeed. Now it's just up to the world to notice.