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Career comparison: Phil Hughes is Scott Baker

by Derek Wetmore, 1500ESPN.com Updated 3 months ago | 1488 reads

A tall right-handed fly ball pitcher with a low-to-mid-nineties fastball, strikeout capability and low walk totals.

Phil Hughes is a slightly burlier Scott Baker.

If the comparison already has been made, I apologize. It would be fitting if it already has been pointed out somewhere else, because of how similar their careers have been, from a numbers perspective.

Of course, injuries and relative expectations make their careers seem vastly different, but I was struck watching Hughes deal in his previous start (Wednesday in Toronto) that he's awfully similar to the former Twins pitcher.

I ran this comparison by a couple co-workers this week. One was on board with the comparison; the other called Baloney Sandwich.

So here's my evidence:

Category

Phil Hughes

Scott Baker

W-L record

63-52

63-49

K/9

7.64

7.16

BB/9

2.64

2.09

K/BB%

13.0

14.1

HR/9

1.24

1.20

GB %

33.5

33.9

FB %

46.0

45.3

HR/FB %

9.8

9.6

GB/FB

0.73

0.75

Opp. AVG.

.257

.262

ERA

4.41

4.24

FIP

4.16

4.03

WHIP

1.30

1.26

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Source: FanGraphs.com. Numbers were taken entering Tuesday.

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Hughes was great again Tuesday night in Boston. He limited the Red Sox to two runs with six strikeouts and no walks over eight innings of work. The complete-game loss dropped Hughes to 7-3, but more instructively, boosted his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 78-8. Nearly 10 strikeouts for every walk. That's filthy.

This season, Hughes has pounded the strike zone and relied primarily on a fastball-cutter mix, while sprinkling in his curveball. Baker, in the past three seasons has been a sinker-slider pitcher who will throw his changeup. So Hughes isn't a Baker replica, but their results are strikingly similar. Hughes is more likely to strike out or walk a batter. Otherwise, look at the commonalities.

Baker was drafted by the Twins, and pitched well for them for parts of seven seasons. He made his debut in 2005 and was especially good from 2007-2011. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent in the winter of 2012 and with the Texas Rangers this offseason. The Twins did not pursue Baker this winter.

Hughes, meanwhile, is pitching much better this season than his track record with New York. So comparing his career numbers with Baker's might be a little misleading. To be clear: this season, Hughes is a better pitcher than Baker.

For their careers, though, the two pitchers have posted strikingly similar numbers. 

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
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