As great as they were – the celebrated Strasburg blowing hitters away and Anderson pushing the A's to a playoff spot – neither was the best in 2012. Another pitcher – a most unlikely candidate – may be the greatest Tommy John success story yet, the sort who can demystify a surgery evolving faster than anyone realizes.
Kris Medlen stands 5-foot-9 3/4, and we will round up to 5-10, even though when you're under 6-foot that extra quarter-inch means more than tall people care to recognize. He is a right-handed starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. This is important because 5-foot-10 right-handed starting pitchers exist only in dreams and parallel universes in which scouts do not chortle, scoff and expectorate a giant stream of tobacco juice in the direction of any right-handed pitcher with the temerity of standing 5-10.
Last season, Medlen joined the following list: Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, Ferdie Schupp, Dutch Leonard, Walter Johnson and Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown. They are the only starting pitchers in history to finish a season with at least 138 innings pitched and an adjusted ERA of over 250. That means his ERA, when factored for the stadiums' dimensions, was more than 2 ½ times better than the league average. In the last 96 years, the list is Medlen, Pedro, Maddux and Gibson.