For many years the NPF had three elite pitchers: Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman, and Monica Abbott. Now that Finch and Osterman have retired and only Monica Abbott remains, it is time to reassess who are the NPF's new elite pitchers. Here is my list:
1. Monica Abbott - 2016 stats: 19-3 record, 0.98 ERA, 142 innings pitched, 185 strikeouts, 1.30 strikeout-per-inning ratio.
Abbott is still the class of the NPF. She led the league in innings, wins, strikeouts, and games started. She ranked 2nd in ERA behind only the USSSA Pride's Jordan Taylor. Monica Abbott signed a $1 million contract last season and so far is earning every penny with her performance on the field—even if so far it is only during the regular season. Even though Abbott had a great season last year, she still disappointed in the playoffs and led the Dawgs to an early postseason exit. But there is no reason to think Abbott won't pick it up next season and try to lead the Scrapyard Dawgs on another title run.
2. Jordan Taylor - 2016 stats: 3-0 record, 0.70 ERA, 40 innings pitched, 54 strikeouts, 1.35 strikeout-per-inning ratio.
Jordan Taylor is, statistically, the 2nd best pitcher in the NPF. Taylor had a great 2016 season for the Pride, but I'm sure the team wished it saw more of her. I'm sure the fans thought the same—especially in the postseason! Taylor pitched brilliantly in 2016, but she only pitched 40 innings—not even enough for six complete games. I hope that in 2017 Taylor gets an opportunity to pitch more innings and show just how good she can be. Taylor could prove herself to be an all-time great if she started to pitch in the NPF full-time.
3. Lauren Haegar - 2016 stats: 10-7 record, 3.01 ERA, 111 innings pitched, 100 strikeouts, 0.90 strikeout-per-inning ratio.
Lauren Haegar is my pick for the 3rd most elite pitcher in the NPF. Haegar had a great season in 2016, and what makes it more impressive is that she did it for the 2nd-worst team in the NPF: the Dallas Charge. Even on a poor team, Haegar tired for 2nd in the NPF in wins at 10. She also ranked #2 in the league in strikeouts and innings pitched behind only Monica Abbott. Haegar performed exceptionally well in her 2nd NPF season, and hopefully she can continue to improve and cement herself into the NPF's most elite pitchers.
There you have it! Any members of the NPF elite pitchers that I missed?