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Although it might not appear that way, every year something occurs that has never happened before or, at a minimum, has not happened for a long time.

In 2014, several pitchers could post landmark seasons.

The juiced-up numbers of the 1990s and early 2000s are in the past, and baseball appears to again be in a pitchers' era. Look no further than the common advanced metric FIP (fielding independent pitching).

FIP is a defense-independent pitching statistic that uses only elements the pitcher has control over (home runs, walks, strikeouts and innings pitched). The stat is scaled to ERA, so a 2.80 mark is great, 3.40 is good and more than 4.00 is mediocre to poor.

Seven pitchers this year have FIPs good enough to rank in the top 200 individual seasons since 1947. The last time seven or more made the top 200 was a strike year (1981), so there's a good chance some might have dropped out had that been a full season.

The last full season that had more than seven pitchers register a top-200 FIP was 1972. That year 15 made the list, from Bob Gibson to Bob Moose. This current season is not even in the same realm as 1968, a year in which 24 pitchers posted FIPs of less than 2.64 (the cutoff for the top 200).

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw leads the esteemed seven with a 1.87 FIP (through Aug. 16), a mark that was several notches lower before he allowed two home runs to the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 16. That 1.87 figure ranks fifth since 1947, a spot below fellow Dodgers left-hander Sandy Koufax (1.85 in 1963).

Kershaw has been the de facto Cy Young Award winner in the National League nearly from opening day, challenged only by the likes of the St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto.

In addition, Kershaw's 0.839 is the third-best WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) since 1947.

In the American League, Seattle Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez has been dominant, posting the 22nd-best FIP ever at 2.15, as well as leading the league in ERA (1.99).

As with Kershaw, he's second in franchise history, a few places below future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, who managed a 2.08 FIP in 1995. That year was shortened, but Johnson still got in 30 starts.

Assuming these marks hold up, this will be the first full season since 1971 that at least two pitchers notched top-25 seasons.

Third on the list is Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who is the only member of the seven to have his franchise's best single-season FIP since 1947, edging Gary Peters, Tom Bradley and Wilbur Wood. His 2.26 mark might be the most likely to rise of the group, as he has pitched just 130 innings.

Possibly the most surprising name on the list is Minnesota Twins right-hander Phil Hughes. The 28-year-old came into this season with a career 4.31 FIP and a penchant for giving up home runs. Since leaving hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium for more pitcher-friendly Target Field, Hughes has been remarkable, although his 13-8 record and 3.76 ERA would not lead one to that conclusion. Through 158 innings this year, Hughes has had 8.0 strikeouts and 0.9 walks per nine innings and allowed just 0.6 home runs per nine innings. Those rates give him a 2.61 FIP, one of the Twins' franchise best marks, just behind those of Dean Chance, Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat.

A good defense can make a very good pitcher look great, such as Jim Palmer (2.86 career ERA, 3.50 career FIP), or a poor defense can make a very good pitcher look closer to average, such as Mickey Lolich (3.44 ERA, 3.20 FIP).

FIP is not a perfect metric. There is something to be said for the ability to limit hits, which FIP does not take into account. But it is likely a bit better than ERA, which allows for far too many things out of a pitcher's control.

HighHeatStats.com is an affiliate of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties.

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