Friday, March 29, 2013

Cost Benefit Analysis: Johan Santana's No Hitter

On June 1st, 2012, ace left-hander Johan Santana pitched the only no-hitter in the 50-year history of the New York Mets. It was a cause for celebration for a franchise so renowned for their pitching, yet unable to ever complete 9 no-hit innings.

But was the moment worth the (presumed) consequences? Santana, a 2-time Cy Young Award winner, was 33 years old that night against the Cardinals. He had already missed the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury. He threw a career-high 134 pitches to achieve the unforgettable.

Manager Terry Collins had to know his starter was fragile, but he was also pushed by the Mets' dubious distinction. It would be hard to find a manager to pull the plug in that situation. Well, maybe the Washington Nationals would have, and no doubt would've been bombarded by criticism.

Collins stuck with Santana, and New York had a party. But then there was the hangover. Santana went 3-7 in his next 10 starts before being shut down for the season in mid-August. Now it looks like this season will be lost with a tear in the same shoulder.

There's no hard evidence to suggest that throwing 134 pitches on a single night 10 months ago is alone responsible for the shutdown of Santana's career. He had a history of arm problems, and being a Major League pitcher seems to be a dangerous profession for one's throwing arm.

But here's the hard data: in his 6 seasons with the Mets (including this one), Santana will have gone 46-34. He was brilliant at times, but never pitched in a postseason game. His $137.5M contract games out to just under 3 Million per win.

If you're one to believe credit card ads on TV, Santana's no-hitter was "priceless," which is nice to say, but the Cost Benefit Analysis says otherwise.

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