Nearly two years ago in this space, we wrote about how Adam Wainwright's extension was a bargain, given the production he offered compared to the massive dollar figures other players across the sport were getting.
To miss a full season to Tommy John surgery and return without missing a beat while getting back up to speed -- Wainwright's 2012 featured baseball's sixth-best FIP -- is practically unheard of.
Wainwright did it, and then he kept doing it. His 2013 was the best season of his career and might have earned him his first Cy Young were it not for the historic performance of Clayton Kershaw.
In 2014, Wainwright did it again, putting up a career-best 2.38 ERA. He also leads all of baseball in innings pitched over the past two seasons, which doesn't even take into account the 51 additional postseason frames he contributed. Some guys never make it back the same from elbow surgery, but the post-surgery version of Wainwright has continued to be among baseball's best.
So when Insider recently put together a "Top 10 Starting Pitchers" list for a national television broadcast that didn't include Wainwright, Cardinals fans were understandably displeased. When I explain right now why he shouldn't be considered among the top 20 starting pitchers for 2015, I don't imagine that reaction is going to improve. But there's risk here. Lots of it.