It's weird how baseball works.
For years, analysts would have overvalued Mike Fiers. They would have seen the no-hitter he twirled on Aug. 21 last year and penciled him in as the co-ace of the rotation. A guy like Lance McCullers would have been written off as a pup waiting his turn.
We've come so far in our analytics-heavy baseball world that Fiers has now become underrated. We have his FIP and his SIERA and his exit velocities and we think we know that he's not one of Houston's best pitchers. He's good, but he's fourth behind Keuchel, McHugh and McCullers. He's expendable, but nice to have around.
Fiers probably deserves to be hyped in the middle of those two extremes.
For example, let's delve into the history of that August night.
The Astros went just under 22 years between 9-inning no-hitters by a single pitcher. Nine men in the franchise accomplished the feat and eight of them are pretty recognizable names. Four have their numbers hanging in the rafters of Minute Maid Park.
Mike Fiers' gem in August was the fourth-best on that list, too, if you believe GameScore. His 94 ranked just above Don Wilson's no-no in '69 and just behind Nolan's blank slate in '81.
Fiers didn't even do it with a low strikeout total. He whiffed 10. seven more than Ken Forsch managed in his '79 no-hitter. He walked just three, less than both Larry Dierker in '76 and Wilson in '69. Heck, he didn't even give up a run like Darryl Kile did in '93.
Fiers' no-hitter was a seminal moment in a bad stretch of the season. Because it was met by bad play before and after, it's forgotten. Because Fiers didn't pitch in the playoffs, it's forgotten. Because he had a 4.45 ERA in September, it's forgotten.
What we do know about Mike Fiers is that he was brilliant in the second half of the season. He had a 3.36 ERA in 80 innings. Over the whole of 2015, Fiers also struck out a batter an inning.
Give him time with Brent Strom. Give him time in the new system. Get him used to throwing a huge inning total and see what he can do.
Mike Fiers may get lost in the shuffle of Houston's rotation. His no-hitter may be undervalued. But make no mistake. Houston has one of the best fourth starters in baseball.