In this week’s power rankings at ESPN Dan McCarthy of ESPN Stats & Information noted something incredible:
There are now only four pitchers in the live ball era (since 1920) to qualify for the ERA title with an ERA under 2.00, a WHIP below 1.00 and a strikeout percentage over 30: Pedro Martínez (1997 and 2000), Clayton Kershaw (2014), Jacob deGrom (2018) and Snell (2018).
That is quite select company,
A 30% or better strikeout rate is the gatekeeper in that stat line for most of MLB history.
The first pitcher to qualify for the ERA title and post a 30% strikeout rate was Dwight Gooden in his historical 1984 season for the New York Mets. Nolan Ryan accomplished the feat in 1987 and 1989. Those are the only three times this occurred in Major League Baseball through the strike shortened season of 1994.
Since 1995 it has happened more frequently but still has only happened 38 times including six times in 2018: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Blake Snell, Trevor Bauer, and Patrick Corbin
Since 1995, though, only 11 times has a pitcher qualified for the ERA title ended with an ERA under 2.00.
The only other pitcher in that time frame to accomplish the feat in the American League was Pedro Martinez who pitched to a 1.74 ERA in 2000 for the Boston Red Sox.
The 2018 season has been remarkable for Blake Snell any way you slice it. He deserves all the attention he has received and it should make for a fascinating American League Cy Young Award vote.