Felix Hernandez reportedly received a MASSIVE contract extension from the Mariners on Thursday. Once we were done ogling those numbers, we got down to another question and another set of numbers: Namely, who is the best starting pitcher and baseball and is there a way to prove it?
See, baseball fans and pitching enthusiasts are living in a suddenly golden era of arms.
And while we would reflexively answer "Justin Verlander" to a question about which one is the best, and end the post right then and there, we really must consider some others.
Hernandez? He's definitely in the discussion, getting lost in the shuffle while pitching for such awful teams in Seattle.
Roy Halladay? He's probably on the downside of a magnificent career, but he had an MLB-high 8.5 WAR in 2011 and has seven career years over 5.0 (Verlander has a shorter career to consider but has just three such years).
Clayton Kershaw? David Price? CC Sabathia? Wouldn't want to face any of those lefties. Does Stephen Strasburg enter the discussion? Where does Jered Weaver fit in?
At the end of the day, we'd probably still take Verlander in any one-game playoff, which we've always thought of as the best way to define the best pitcher in the game of baseball at any given time. But we wouldn't bet against any of the guys we mentioned, or a handful of others we haven't mentioned.
Your thoughts on the best, please, in the comments.