It would be tough to argue that Wandy Rodriguez is the best starting pitcher in baseball. While his stock has definitely risen in 2009, he still has a ways to go in order to get into the conversation dealing with being a part of the "baseball's best starter" conversation.
Still, it bears mentioning that there is more than one way for a starting pitcher to have value. Wandy's FIP, ERA, K/BB and VORP may not be of the highest caliber, but he is tops in one interesting stat- Clutch.
This isn't the sort of clutch that color commentators like to opine about. Rather, it's a stat developed by who else but the folks at FanGraphs which tells us which players step up their performances in high leverage situations as compared to average leverage situations.
It's a little bit of a kooky stat since it doesn't compare players to a league baseline of "clutchness", but what the Clutch stat does illustrate is which players step their games up when the games are close/runners are on base/etc. Then again, finding an "average" high leverage situation would most likely prove difficult as no two clutch situations are the same for any two players on any given day. TangoTiger has put together a chart detailing the different high/low leverage situations in a game.
Back to Wandy. Here is the list of the most clutch starting pitchers in baseball. As you can see, there are some great pitchers at the top of the list, such as Zach Greinke, Matt Cain and Johan Santana. There are others who are, um...not as good. What puts Wandy ahead of them all? Well, as I mentioned earlier, he isn't at the very top of starting pitchers. Cain, Greinke and Santana have all been better. Whereas Wandy has excelled overall in terms of helping the Astros' chances of winning games he's started, he has only been above average when the different leverage situations are taken out of the equation.
Figuring that Rodriguez is great in high leverage situations and just pretty good in "average situations", his high Clutch score makes more sense. This is a stat that doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of predicting the future, but it is interesting and another way to evaluate a player's past performances.