I’m not good with the historical comparisons, but I did sense that Joba Chamberlain was doing something pretty special at the beginning of his career. Howard Megdal, the fine baseball writer for the New York Observer, does the work for me:
Those who can approach Joba’s success over these early starts are
rare, and were within sight of full-season dominance. Tom Seaver,
though he pitched to a 2.39 ERA (again, in a much more pitcher-tilted
era), struck out just 54 in 86 2/3 innings. It was no fluke—Seaver’s
next four full-season ERAs were 2.20, 2.21, 2.82 and 1.76. Dwight
Gooden posted a 2.88 ERA in his first 12 starts, striking out 93 in 75
innings. He was, of course, less than a year away from posting a 24-4,
1.53 ERA season.
The one recent counter-argument against Chamberlain’s 12 starts
forecasting even greater dominance is, at first glance, Jared Weaver,
who posted a 1.95 ERA in his first 12 starts for the 2006 Angels, but
has hardly been an ace since, with a career 3.66 ERA. But notice that
the batting average on balls in play for hitters facing Weaver during
his rookie season was .238, well below the league average of .300. As
that normalized to .316 in 2007 and .293 in 2008, Weaver’s ERA sought a
more appropriate level. But Chamberlain’s BABIP entering Monday night’s
game stood at .314—if anything, his ERA is a bit artificially high.
Is it hyperbolic of me to say that Joba has lived up to the hype and then some? The most recent sports prodigy to match the hype was Lebron James. So, yes, I’m suggesting that Joba has been Lebronesque.
I hope this injury is nothing.