The 2018 MLB regular season is wrapping up with just a week of games left before the playoffs commence.
It has been a breakout campaign for 25-year-old southpaw, Blake Snell, who has emerged as one of the favorites to take home the American League Cy Young award, as he has put up some historic numbers thus far, with likely one more start remaining on his year.
In his third season as a major leaguer, Blake Snell has compiled a record of 21-5, with a 1.90 ERA & 2.98 FIP over 175 2⁄3 innings pitched across 30 starts.
Those impressive numbers, despite pitching in the toughest division in baseball. The American League East has three of the top six offenses in baseball, sorted by wRC+. Ultimately, they have four of the top ten. The Baltimore Orioles are a lowly 25th.
Snell accrued 38 1⁄3 innings pitched against the two division behemoths, and has straight up dominated their rosters. The 156 combined Yankees and Red Sox hitters who have stepped up to the plate against him have hit just .178/.260/.321 off of the Rays’ Cy Young hopeful.
Blake Snell has been baseball best pitcher against baseball’s best offenses.
In 2018, heading into play today as of September 27th, there are 12 teams with a wRC+ of 100 or better. Of those 12 teams, 9 of them are in the American League.
Snell has thrown 109 1⁄3 innings pitched against these teams, compiling a 1.56 ERA (which no other starting pitcher in baseball even comes close to approaching) & 2.62 FIP. Opposing hitters have slashed .156/.237/.252 off of him, with a 32.3 K% and 9.3 BB% in 418 trips to the plate.
Comparing Snell with his competitors
Blake Snell faces some fierce competition in the Cy Young race, with Justin Verlander likely leading the charge.
Against the 12 teams with above average offenses, Verlander has put up respectable numbers, just not as good as Snell’s.
Justin Verlander has a few less innings pitched that Snell against these teams, registering 106 1⁄3 innings pitched, with a 2.96 ERA & 2.94 FIP. Opposing hitters have slashed .213/.251/.382 off of him, with a 33.2 K% and a minuscule 3.3 BB% in 419 trips to the plate.
Cy Young candidates
Along with those opposing offenses, Blake Snell dominated the race with his competition for the Cy Young award as the several other pitchers don’t come close to his production, despite putting up more than respectable numbers against the fiercest hitters in baseball.
The only blemish against Snell, would be his lack of command, with a walk rate of nearly 10%. Despite this, he still has the lowest on-base percentage of the quartet who dominate American League starting pitchers.
Once again, 2018 has been a historic campaign for Blake Snell, to the point where the National Baseball Hall of Fame requested his jersey he wore during his 21st victory for their Rays exhibition in Cooperstown, New York.
His 21 wins are a Rays record. His ERA as of now, is the lowest in franchise history. His 31.1 K% is the highest in franchise history. His .177 opponent average is the lowest in franchise history.
All these marks, and all the other great pitchers in franchise history (David Price, James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Moore, Chris Archer) haven’t really come close.
Wins and ERA are dinosaur stats, but they still do have a significance in the game of baseball and when you look at the greatest of all-time, wins and ERA usually stand out. Since baseball expanded to 30 teams at the start of the 1998 season, Blake Snell’s 1.90 ERA is the 2nd lowest in the American League trailing behind Pedro Martinez’s ridiculous, inhuman 2000 season (1.74).
His numbers in the second half of the season are even more ludicrous as Snell has switched over to a whole other gear. His 1.11 second half ERA is the 7th lowest in the MLB since the start of the 1953 season (min. 10 starts).
When he makes his next start, he’ll have the opportunity to win his 22nd game of the season, something that just six other American League pitchers have done since 1998. All six of those pitchers went on to win the Cy Young award.