MLB: Revealing the American League East’s 4 Best Starting Pitchers

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Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees

Jul 12, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (18) pitches during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of free agents that have bolstered their stock… Kuroda is indeed on that slim list. If it wasn’t for his age (he will turn 39 in February), he’d be in line for a sparkly contract this offseason. Instead, he will likely have to settle for a little less, at least in the years department.

The basis of Kuroda’s success has been his consistency. He’s given up more than three runs just three times, equating to a 2.45 ERA. That’s fifth in baseball and first in the AL East among qualified starters. He also walks just 1.7 batters per nine innings, which is the ninth lowest mark in baseball. Throw it all together and you get the AL East’s best WAR (3.2).

The one area that partially disdains his ERA are his low strikeout numbers (6.7 K/9 rate). Everyone seemingly loves the strikeout. They’re flashy. They have the “wow effect.” Pretty much phrases of that variety.

Kuroda’s approach doesn’t garner the punchouts, though, and his FIP (Fielding Independent Percentage) is thus about a full run higher than his ERA–FIP measures only what a pitcher can control (walks, home runs, strikeouts).

Now for a translation: He’s efficient and effective. His 2013 campaign also screams “underrated.” One can’t ask for much more.