I'm not sure there's ever been a pitcher like Jered Weaver. First, of course, is that unusual slingshot delivery in which he throws across his body but hides the ball so well, making it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball. Because of that delivery and deception, he can attack like a power pitcher -- throwing up in the zone -- even though his fastball rarely tops 90 mph, this generating a large percentage of fly balls. Deception, control and movement -- it's a good combination, and as Katie Sharp points out, his curveball has been extremely effective over his past 11 starts as he's compiled an ERA under 2.00.
Here's a random cool stat about Weaver, who starts tonight in the opening game of the big Angels-A's series. Since his first full season in the majors, his yearly batting averages allowed:
Similarly, his OPS and BABIP (batting average on balls in play) have declined each season as well. In 2007, he allowed a .316 BABIP; that's down to .232 this season, the lowest average among major league starters. That's not necessarily a fluke: Weaver had the fifth-lowest BABIP in 2011.
Obviously, it helps having outfielders like Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter playing behind you, but converted first baseman Mark Trumbo has played more than 500 innings out there as well. Still, compare that outfield to 2009's primary group of Juan Rivera, Hunter (in center instead of right) and Bobby Abreu. That certainly partially explains why Weaver allowed 53 doubles that season but only 14 this year. His extra-base hit percentage has dropped from 9.4 percent in '09 to 5.3 percent in 2012.
What's even more remarkable about Weaver's numbers is that in 2010 he led the American League with 233 strikeouts with a strikeout percentage of 25.8. That percentage is down to 19.5 percent in 2012, but he's having his best season. With five pitches in his arsenal -- four-seam fastball, sinker, curve, slider, changeup -- plus the ability to cut, slice, dice and change speeds on those pitches, and hitters just can't time him.
He's really one of a kind. Maybe his fastball isn't in the same spectrum as Justin Verlander's, but the result is the same: Domination.