"Seoing the Seeds"

Rookie Jae Weong Seo is only 1-2 but is showing signs of becoming a gem in the Mets' rotation. Even though, more is expected of his velocity, he may have learned a better approach to pitching than relying on power.

Jae Seo underwent Tommy John surgery in 1999, and has still not recovered his former velocity on his fastball. That fact, however, is old news. The current news is that Seo is the fifth pitcher in the Mets' rotation while David Cone is on the disabled list. While it is never good for a team to lose one of its starters for any period of time, Seo is making the absence of Cone remarkably bearable.

Cone has pitched inconsistently in his comeback attempt, with a 6.75 ERA in 16 innings, which is not so bad when Cone's age and year off baseball are considered. If Cone should stay healthy and get into the daily routine of baseball again, there is no reason to think he would be anything but a solid pitcher. In 2001, with the Red Sox, Cone's 4.31 ERA was five percent better than average, and he averaged just over five and a third innings per game. Those numbers make a heck of a fifth starter.

But with Cone on the DL, the Mets have placed Seo in the role of fifth starter, and Seo has done nothing but impress. Seo has the second best ERA among Mets starters at 3.18, and has the second best WHIP in the same group with 1.41. Yes, it is something of a shame that a 1.41 WHIP is the second best in the rotation, but here is the exciting thing: Seo has given up 39 hits in 28.1 innings, and while that in itself is not exciting, think for a moment what that means. Here's a hint; Seo has allowed an average of 1.37 hits per inning. Using simple mathematics, we can reason that Seo has allowed .04 BB (.035 to be exact) per inning.

Seo has given up one walk in 28.1 innings. That is just amazing! The walk was drawn by Arizona's Dave Dellucci after Seo was ahead in the count two balls and two strikes. . So he's only struck out 14. So he's allowed 39 hits. Thanks to that one walk, his statistical line is like walking down the street and stubbing your toe… on a big hunk of gold.

It is widely believed that the best measure of future success for young pitchers is their k/bb ratio, so ignore the hits, and ignore the ERA (even though it is mighty fine) and look at those 14 strike outs and that one walk. Granted, it has only been 28.1 innings, and there are more than a hundred more games to play, so rather than comparing his numbers to others, it would be best just to look at some of the game's best pitchers at age 25. It is too early to compare, but it is a good idea to keep watch of Seo's k/bb ratio for the rest of the season.

Pitcher

Age 25/Year

IP

K

BB

K/BB

Roger Clemens

1988

264

291

62

4.69

Tom Glavine

1991

246.2

192

69

2.78

Randy Johnson

1989

160.2

130

96

1.35

Greg Maddux

1991

263

198

66

3.00

Pedro Martinez

1997

241.2

305

67

4.55

Mike Mussina

1994

176

99

42

2.36

Curt Schilling

1992

226.1

147

59

2.49



None of this is to suggest that Seo will be as good as any of the pitchers listed, but comparing his development to that of some of the current greats gives the Mets hope for the future. It would be nearly impossible for him to keep up the rates he is pitching at now, but keep an eye on Seo, he could yet be something special.



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