One of the most frustrating things about being a fan in the age of social media is seeing the really bad opinions of my fellow fans. Most of those bad opinions exist about St. Louis Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez.
I will admit that I am slightly biased here as Carlos Martinez is my favorite player on the team. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that if you have hate or dislike for Carlos Martinez, that your opinion is incredibly wrong. Are Carlos’ struggles 100% frustrating? Absolutely. Especially for a guy who seems to never do enough for some St. Louis Cardinals’ fans.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s disinterested, emotional, or immature. As Tara Wellman put it in her latest Bird Seeds, “He (Carlos Martinez) has more fun than the average human being at life” this does not mean that he can’t be an ace.
First off, I think it is time to create a definition of an ace pitcher. According to Wikipedia, “an ace is the best starting pitcher on a team and nearly always the first pitcher in the team’s starting rotation”. So, in terms of every statistical pitching category, who has the Cardinals “best starting pitcher” been since 2015 (Carlos’ first year as a full-time starter)? I’ll save you the research, it is Carlos Martinez.
So, when designating an ace for the St. Louis Cardinals, research leads us to understand that the pitcher we designate as the ace is Carlos Martinez.
About those stats
You may be thinking, “well hey that’s your opinion and my opinion is that he is not an ace material kind of pitcher”.
One of the most common complaints about Carlos is that he is no Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer, so he can’t be considered an ace. Well, that complaint is partially right. There are only four pitchers in the entire league who carry that kind of distinction. These four pitchers would be Kershaw, Scherzer, Chris Sale, and Corey Kluber. They are the only four pitchers (who have pitched 500 IP or more) who have an fWAR above 15 in the last three seasons.
Therefore, we must conclude that there are only four aces in the entire league according to the logic of the first complaint. That’s impossible. According to our definition, every team has an ace.
Also, when you compare Carlos Martinez to the rest of the league, he is only 3.1 fWAR off of being the fifth best pitcher in the entire league. He currently sits at 10.1 fWAR which puts him 19th in the league. So, in terms of fWAR, he is the 19th best pitcher in the league. I know that doesn’t sound great, but when you think that each team has a minimum of five starters, Carlos is at a minimum 19th out of 150 starting pitchers.
In case you’re not a fan of fWAR and think it’s a flawed stat (you’re wrong) here are a few more stats; in terms of ERA, he’s 12th, FIP 18th, K/9 11th, GB% 2nd, HR/9 6th. So, according to statistics and the definition of an ace, Carlos Martinez is the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals and he’s a real talent who Cardinals’ fans should appreciate while he’s still young.
Is Carlos perfect? No. Like I stated at the beginning, he has some struggles that very frustrating. Where he’s at in his career right now is pretty good. However, he could absolutely be better. He has the talent to be up there with your Kluber, Kershaw, Scherzer, and Sale type pitchers. He simply needs to find a more consistent lane and put starts like his Opening Day start firmly in the rearview mirror.
These inconsistencies aren’t because he doesn’t care, is immature, or because he likes to change his hairstyle. It simply is because being a major league pitcher isn’t easy. As crazy as it sounds, Carlos is still learning. He’s probably under the most pressure of anyone on the entire team. He’s got a country (Dominican Republic) counting on him as well as his family, team, and fans.
If you still question his maturity, I highly suggest you check out this piece by St. Louis Cardinals’ beat writer Derrick Goold who calls this maturity conversation “hogwash, bordering on insulting”.
Carlos will be better this year, you can take that to the bank. The whole season won’t be like his first start. It’s time the fanbase gets behind him and treats him like any other pitcher in the rotation.
What are your thoughts on the Cardinals’ ace? Let us know in the comments or on social media!