Brian Bannister is the Best Bargain in Baseball.
The last time I was this excited to watch Brian Bannister pitch, it was Independence Day and I was actually going to be at the game - a sad rarity for me. I was pumped to see Banny pitch in person again, as I had thoroughly enjoyed watching him play at the triple-A level. On that day, he got rocked for four runs in the first inning, and KC was never able to come back. Sad story, I know, but the worst that came of it was a grumpy Minda.
This time around, the implications for Bannister and all of Royals Nation are much greater. If Banny has an "off night" or even one "off inning" against C.C. Sabathia and the rest of the Tribe tonight, he could be dropped out of contention for AL Rookie of the Year honors. On the other hand, if he pitches in his best form, many more people will take notice of him as a legitimate contender. With Cleveland looking to hang on to their lead in the AL Central, people will be paying attention to their every game. So it stands to reason that if Bannister holds his own against Sabathia, then people -- even those at ESPN who HATE to acknowledge the Royals in any positive way, ever -- will pay attention to Bannister too.
Bannister, by the way, could be the Royals' best bargain in at least the last decade. Compare his season at his $380,000 salary to Daisuke Matsuzaka's similar season at his ludicrous $52 million for 6 years (approx $8.6 million per year).
12-8 on a losing team
191.1 innings pitched
14-12 even with the loaded Red Sox lineup behind him
Wouldn't it be fun if salary were a predictor of a player's performance? If it were, and if Bannister was paid as much as Dice-K, then my pseudo-scientific calculations tell me that Bannister would have zero losses, and would not have given up a run (earned or otherwise) all season. But I'd rather believe that Bannister is as amazing as he is because he's smart, talented and hard-working; not because of what he gets paid. All I know for sure is, I'm really excited to watch tonight's game...having a day off yesterday felt like an ETERNITY.
P.S. All this talk about Bannister is fueled by my desire to see him named AL RoY. He's my favorite Royals pitcher and I'd love to see him get some national recognition for his awesomeness.
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