What can someone do in an age where highlights are posted within seconds of it happening, where stats are at your fingertips, where research through books is almost non-existent?
How about finishing a professional baseball season, of any kind, with an earned run average of zero. Is that unheard of? It was until mid to late round pick Paul Smyth, from the University of Kansas took the mound.
“I really didn’t have an agenda when I first got to Vancouver,” says Smyth while chatting earlier this season on Vancouver Canadians Game Day broadcast on TEAM1040 Sports Radio.
“I was just told to throw strikes and be competitive, and I think that’s what I am still trying to do”.
Smyth – who you can say was underrated and not, I am sure, not expected to be the next big thing – started the 2009 season with the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League, where he spent the majority of the season. He was recently promoted to the Single A Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League.
“What Paul Smyth has done in his first season is wonderful. I cannot believe he went the entire year, but as composed as he is, when I look back, I am not that surprised,” says Vancouver Canadians broadcaster Rob Fai who saw every single pitch thrown by Smyth this past summer.
“What I don’t think people may realize is just how rare something like this happens. The Canadians have had more than 150 pitchers come through town in our history, and not one person has done what Smyth has been able to do”.
Before this, the lowest ERA that the Canadians have seen through their organization was 0.52 posted by right-handed pitcher Brad Davis in 2005. He went on to give up two runs in 35 innings of work during 23 total appearances.
Unfortunately for Davis, Smyth, who was performing at two different levels of baseball, was the better man. Smyth in 25 appearances totaling 36.1 innings, posted a combined 2-0 record with 11 saves, 44 strikeouts and four walks. His one appearance with Kane County yielded a 1-0 record in five games with another seven strikeouts. Not bad for a guy not even named to the All-Star Game, “I understand that in the Northwest League there were some outstanding performances from some very respectable relievers, but to see what Paul Smyth accomplished and NOT have him as an All-Star, or at least a co-winner of that award is tough. But we here in Vancouver and in Kane County saw what Paul was made of, and that final stat can never be taken away from him acknowledgement or not,” adds Fai.
Smyth was named MVP of the Canadians, the first time a reliever – yet alone a closer – has received such an honor.
When you break it down, an incredible year was had, no doubt. Can this 35th round pick continue his dominance at the more advanced levels of play? A run will cross the plate, whether it is his runner or an inherited one, but one thing that no one can take away is that in 2009 Smyth was as dominant as they come, and his 0.00 ERA cannot be denied.
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.
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