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Many have been saying that Barry Zito has been just as good, if not better, than he was in 2002. And a look at the numbers shows that he isn't quite at his 2002 level just yet. At least his overall numbers.

His WHIP in 2002 was 1.13. This season, it's 1.19. His batting average against in 2002 was .218. This season, it's .222. OBP in 2002 was .286 and this season it's .299 (all these stats don't include today's game).

But here's something interesting to note about Barry Zito's career.

Zito's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) in 2002 was .251. This year, it's .245. Many people say that BABIP is a good indicator on how "lucky" a pitcher is. But some (like Rob Neyer) theorized back during that 2002 season that Zito's curve is as deceptive as a knuckleball, which would account for the consistently low BABIP. Meaning that even if people got a bat on the ball, it was tough to center it on the bat.

Let's look at his BABIP for Zito's career.

  1. .238
  2. .288
  3. .251
  4. .244
  5. .299
  6. .245
Now look at his ERA from each of those years:
  1. 2.72
  2. 3.45
  3. 2.75
  4. 3.30
  5. 4.48
  6. 3.65
Either Zito is one lucky guy, or Neyer's observation is true because Zito regularly has that BABIP around .250. The two years he didn't, 2001 and 2004, his ERA sailed north.

This year, however, his ERA is the second highest it has been in his career and his BABIP is low again. Why? I think it's because Z's slugging percentage against is the second highest it's been in a single season (2004 being the highest). So, when opposition players connect and don't make outs, they're getting extra-base hits. Zito has already given up 26 doubles (compared to the full season totals of 30 in 2001, 24 in 2002 and 28 in 2003) Combine that with Zito's second-lowest strikeouts per nine innings and 59 walks, and there you go.

The good news is that his ERA has dropped every month so far this season.

April: 6.60
May: 3.49
June: 3.05
July: 2.51

So, it's possible that Zito is actually pitching better in June and July than he was in 2002. But his April and May numbers are making his overall numbers look worse than he's actually pitched.

And the best category of all? He already has 11 wins, which is as as many as he had for all of 2004.

He's been simply superb.

And the A's have now crossed the Ratto threshold. Welcome to Win 61.