“King Félix” or Johan: Who’s the best Venezuelan starter ever?

The 2018 Cy Young Awards will be handed out this evening, which gives us a moment to appreciate not only the terrific performances by pitchers around Major League Baseball this year but also a reason to reflect on some past winners.

When considering some past winners, a conversation that has come up frequently regards the best Venezuelan starting pitcher in history.

Some will say it was Johan Santana. Others maintain that it is “King Félix” Hernández.

Both have had marvelous careers. Hernandez has spent his entire big league career in Seattle while Santana wore a few jerseys on major league mounds before calling it a career.

But who was better?

Let’s consider the prime years of their respective careers.

Johan Santana

Five-year Peak: 2004-08

During Santana’s five-year peak, he won two Cy Young Awards (2004, 2006) and won the pitching triple crown in 2006. His numbers during that stretch are staggering: 35.6 WAR, 1.022 WHIP, 1,189 strikeouts in 1,146 2/3 innings pitched. He threw six shutouts and walked only 261 during that stretch while striking out 9.3 per nine innings pitched against just 7.2 hits per nine. He compiled an 86-39 record.

Félix Hernández

Five-year Peak: 2010-14 (2010 CY)

“King Félix” Hernández won the Cy Young Award in 2010, perhaps making the case for Jacob DeGrom’s winning it this year. Hernández posted a record of only 13-12 but led the league with 249 2/3 innings pitched, a 2.27 ERA and 34 starts. He struck out 232 that season and completed six games.

During his five-year peak, Hernández posted a 27.6 WAR with 16 complete games. He struck out 8.9 batters per nine innings pitched while allowing only 7.6 hits per nine, comparable numbers to Santana. He struck out 1,141 in 1,155 2/3 innings pitched with a 67-51 record.

Who was better? Tell us in the comments!

Tale of the Tape

Johan Santana

Five-Year Peak: 2004-08

2004, ’06 Cy Young Awards
2006 pitching triple crown
1,146.2 IP
2.82 ERA
9 CG
1,189 Ks
261 BB
1.022 WHIP
7.2 H/9IP
9.3 K/9IP
WAR: 35.6

“King Félix” Hernández

Five-Year Peak: 2010-14

2010 Cy Young Award
1,155.2 IP
2.78 ERA
16 CG
1,141 Ks
285 BB
1.091 WHIP
7.6 H/9IP
8.9 K/9IP
WAR: 27.6

Featured Image: La Vida Baseball