Although it may be a far cry from the silverware Mr. Blake Snell hopes to put on his mantle on Wednesday afternoon, Snellzilla’s shelf got a little more crowded Tuesday afternoon, with the announcement that the southpaw won the 2018 Warren Spahn Award.
#Rays Blake Snell was named the 2018 Warren Spahn Award winner, which is given to the best left-handed pitcher in MLB. He could add the Cy Young Award tomorrow night.— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) November 13, 2018
The award is given annually to MLB’s top left-handed pitcher. This is the 20th year the award has been in existence, with the list of previous winners including, obviously, some of the best names in baseball, namely Clayton Kershaw, Randy Johnson, and Johan Santana. Snell is just the 11th winner of the award, as several pitchers have collected the award more than once.
Snell finished the season with a 21-5 record, a 1.89 ERA, and 221 strikeouts, classic metrics, yes, but also the metrics that are used in evaluating those eligible for the Warren Spahn Award. No lefty had more wins or a lower ERA than Snell, with only two lefties tallying more Ks — making the decision a rather easy one in favor of the Rays’ ace.
The top competition for the 2018 award were Patrick Corbin (11-7, 3.15 ERA, 246 SO), Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85 ERA, 173), J.A. Happ (17-6, 3.65 ERA, 193), and Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11 ERA, 237 SO) — but Snell topped them all.
For the AL Cy Young race that will be announced on Wednesday, most have Justin Verlander (a right-handed pitcher) as Snell’s top competition. That, along with the different metrics used to evaluate each award, mean this Warren Spahn Award, while fun, probably doesn’t give us much insight to tomorrow’s announcement.
To editorialize briefly, Spahn is one of my favorite players of all time, one of the most overlooked legends of the game. Here, briefly, are a few of his most notable achievements:
- Most wins (363) for any left-handed pitcher in baseball history and the most of any pitcher in the live-ball era
- First lefty to ever win the Cy Young Award
- Holds the record for most times leading the league in wins (8)
- Won 20 or more games in 13 straight seasons, tied for an MLB record
- His 35 home runs are tied for second among all pitchers
- Pitched to the age of 44, with no-hitters in his age-39 and -40 seasons
Add on top of all that that he was considered one of the best teammates and truly good men of his era, and Snell should be honored to make room on his shelf for a trophy with both their names on it.
Hopefully he needs to do a bit more trophy-shelf rearranging Wednesday afternoon as well.