The first victory came on Aug. 9, 2005, 1-0 over the Minnesota Twins, when Felix Hernandez was 19 years, 4 months, and 1 day old.
There have been 99 wins since then, making King Felix the third pitcher to win 100 games with the Mariners (along with Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson). Which makes this as good a time as any to take a By the Numbers look at Seattle’s ace.
• Hernandez has 78 losses to go with his 100 wins, which gives him a winning percentage of .562. That’s good but not great, ranking behind the likes of Yovani Gollardo, Johnny Cueto, Scott Baker, and many other active pitchers. Yet it looks more impressive when compared to the teams Felix has pitched for.
Since Hernandez arrived on the scene eight years ago, the Mariners are 492-647 when somebody else gets the decision. If you take the rest of Seattle’s pitchers and weight their record by the number of decisions Felix had (22 last season, 28 in 2011, 25 in 2010, etc.), those pitchers would have a record of 77-101.
So, Hernandez has been 23 wins better than the rest of the Mariners would have been with the same number of decisions.
• While Hernandez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for several years, it’s premature to say he’s on his way to the Hall of Fame.
According to baseball-reference.com, the pitchers with the most comparable statistics through their Age 26 season (Felix’s age last year) are: Larry Dierker, Dennis Eckersley, Greg Maddux, Frank Tanana, Bret Saberhagen, Joe Coleman, Ken Holtzman, Milt Pappas, Mike Witt, and Catfish Hunter.
Eckersley and Hunter are in the Hall of Fame — although Eckersley would not have made it if he hadn’t become a dominant reliever — and Maddux soon will be there. But the others have no chance of being inducted in Cooperstown.
• One quirk about Hernandez is that he gives up an inordinate number of unearned runs. Starting with 2009, 13.6 of his runs allowed have been unearned; the major-league average has been 7.9 percent.
But it’s not that Hernandez is getting a break from the Safeco Field scorekeepers. At home during that time, 8.4 percent of his runs have been unearned, but on the road 18.3 percent have been unearned.
• Opposing batters throughout Felix’s career have batted .243. Per 650 plate appearances, they have averaged 63 runs, 25 doubles, 13 homers, 46 walks, and 145 strikeouts.
• Baseball statisticians consider a “quality start” to be when a pitcher goes at least six innings and allows three or fewer earned runs. Hernandez has 13 career wins that were not quality starts and has 26 losses in games that were quality starts.
That’s what happens when you’re backed by a dreadful offense.
By comparison, Andy Pettitte has 49 “cheap wins” and 39 “tough losses” during his career.
• Throughout his career, the Mariners have scored 3.9 runs per game with Hernandez on the mound. The major-league average has been 4.6.
• Felix has a career ERA+ of 128, which essentially means his park-adjusted ERA is 28 percent better than the league average. That ranks fifth among active starting pitchers, behind Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, and Justin Verlander.
• In both 2005 and 2006, Hernandez was the youngest player to appear in a major-league game.
• And finally, does Felix have a shot at 300 wins? Well, he’s 27 years, 19 days old and has 100 victories.
At that age, Roger Clemens had 90 wins, Greg Maddux 97, Tom Glavine 75, and Randy Johnson 24. Those are the last four pitchers to win 300 games.