Seth Maness is Better Than You May Think
Cardinals’ fans are very excited about Michael Wacha next year. For all of the talk about what Wacha did last year, and much of it was justified, Seth Maness quietly put together as good of a season and is just as an exciting prospect moving forward.
First to start with their minor league stats, Wacha rocketed through A+ ball and AA, pitching just 8 innings in each. All 8 innings in A+ were scoreless while his ERA in AA was 1.13. He settled into AAA and was dominant. He was 5-3 2.65 ERA 3.53 FIP. Maness was similarly dominant in the minors. After minor stops in A- and A ball, he settled into A+ ball in 2012 going 3-1 2.15 ERA 3.59 FIP over 46 innings. Onto AA the same year, he went 11-3 3.27 ERA 3.59 FIP over 123.2 innings.
Wacha has an advantage of being a starting pitcher, but as was shown in AA ball in 2012, Maness not only has the experience as a starter but excelled when given the opportunity.
Last year, both pitchers threw 60 and some change innings. Wacha threw 64.2 innings to be exact while Maness threw 62.0 innings. So let’s put their outcomes in a competition to see who would come out on top:
ERA: Wacha – 2.78 vs Maness 2.32
FIP: Wacha – 2.92 vs Maness 3.43
WHIP: Wacha – 1.10 vs Maness 1.26
WAR: Wacha – 1.7 vs Maness 1.6
So in some of the most important stats, both pitchers appear to be very comparable. Whichever pitcher comes out on top, it’s not by much. But since there is no situation in the Cardinals that presents Wacha and Maness as an either/or decision, the comparison is ultimately moot. Other to just show how under-the-radar Maness is while Wacha is the most exciting thing right now in the future of St Louis baseball. The post-season would weigh in Wacha’s favor also if we were to stretch out the comparison further, as Wacha was lights-out while Maness allowed a crucial homerun to Jonny Gomes.
Regardless, and in reality, the city should be very excited about both players.
The fact that Maness is so underrated has not gone unnoticed. As this Bleacher Report article from last year claims that Maness is the second most underrated prospect in the system.
The 6’0″, 184-pound man doesn’t come off as anything special, primarily due to his lack of a plus pitch. However, what Maness does have is command—and it’s phenomenal.
Over the last two seasons, he’s walked only 15 batters in 222.2 innings. That’s insane.
Now, not to muddle up the starting pitcher situation for the Cardinals, as they already have a plethora of starters and have tough decisions to make going forward, but Maness should be in the conversation. His name should be in the hat and he should be given a shot.
Along with excelling as a starter in AA, Maness has the stuff of a starter. Maness did well in the pen last year getting the Cards out of trouble at crucial times, but his stuff doesn’t quite have the lightning explosiveness you want from a lights-out reliever. He doesn’t strike a lot of guys out. Even to count last year as a possible small sample size and go back to his minor league numbers, he still had a low strike out rate. But what makes him so good is he also doesn’t walk anyone. And he throws a lot of strikes.
In the Texas League, 67% of his pitches were strikes. In Springfield, his groundball rates was 50.9%. His whole 2012 GB rate was 52.2%. His GB/FB rate was 1.66. Being that good of a groundball pitcher can be useful both as a starter and a reliever. But his upside is so good he should be given a chance.
So it may be time for Cardinals fans to get excited. Because Maness represents one of the best, if not the best reliever on the team, and possibly a starter for the future.