2018 Wrap Up: Fantasy AL Cy Young
To wrap up the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season, Ray Flowers will break down a series of winners from the season. He will be writing a column with six entries, three for the National League and three for the American League. He will name the Fantasy MVP, the Fantasy Cy Young and the Fantasy Rookie of the year for both the Senior and Junior Circuits. Yes, the fantasy winners, not the fellas that will be taking home the hardware when the BBWAA votes on the actual MLB winners of the six awards.
*NOTE: The rankings are based on a 5x5 fantasy setup.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG
5 – Corey Kluber, SP, Indians (20-7, 2.89 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 222 Ks in 215 IP): Throwing 200-innings for a fifth straight season, Kluber won 20 games for the first time, this after back-to-back seasons of exactly 18. Kluber bested his career ERA by two hundredths at 2.89, and for the fifth straight year his WHIP was below 1.10 as he actually posted a second straight season under one. Kluber also posted a massive 6.53 K/BB ratio, though his K/9 rate was a five-year low. Hardly mattered though as he posted a fifth straight season of at least 222 punchouts. Kluber, by the narrowest of margins, held off Gerrit Cole(15-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 276 Ks in 200.1 IP) for the final spot on the strength of his five extra victories and the same ratios over 15 extra innings.
4 – Blake Treinen, RP, Athletics (9-2, 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 100 Ks with 38 SVs in 80.1 IP): He had one less victory than Jacob deGrom and six more saves than Aroldis Chapman. Treinen was dynamic all season long, and he was the only man in baseball with more than 75 innings pitched who had more than 35 saves in the American League. Amongst pitchers who threw 80 innings in the 21st century, no one had a lower ERA than Treinen this season. In fact, going back to 1901 no one has ever been better. Ever. He also posted a nearly identical WHIP and hit triple-digits in strikeouts. If not for the next man on the list, Treinen would have been the reliever of the year in baseball this season. As it is, he has to settle for being the second-best reliever and fourth most valuable fantasy arm in the American League.
3 – Edwin Diaz, RP, Mariners (0-4, 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 124 Ks with 57 SV in 73.1 IP): For a while he was on pace for a shot at the saves record before finally slowing a bit ending the year five short of Francisco Rodriguez’s mark (Diaz tied with Bobby Thigpen). More than just saves, Diaz punched out 124 batters leading to a K/9 rate of 15.33, which just so happens to be the second-best mark in AL history (minimum 70-innings pitched – Dellin Betances 15.53 in ’16). He barely walked two men per nine (2.09), and posted a WHIP so low that it’s borderline criminal. His 57-for-61 conversion rate on saves was also pretty damn epic.
2 – Blake Snell, SP, Rays (21-5, 1.89 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 221 Ks in 180.2 IP): He led baseball with 21 victories despite the fact that he threw just 180.2 innings for the Rays. Those lack of innings - he gave up nearly 34 to the #1 man on the list - held him back from the top spot, but it’s not like anyone who drafted him is complaining. Snell was dominant all year, but this got stupid in the second half when he posted a 1.17 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP, a 12.70 K/9 and a 5.12 K/BB ratio with a 2.32 xFIP. He was as vexing to batters as any hurler in the game, and he held lefties to an absurdly low .186 wOBA.
1 – Justin Verlander, SP, Astros (16-9, 2.52 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 290 Ks in 214 IP): Verlander was one inning behind Kluber for the lead. Verlander was second in the league with a 12.20 K/9 rate (Cole). He led the league with 290 Ks, 14 more than Cole. Verlander was also first in the league with a 0.90 WHIP. We will see who wins the Cy Young award, but Verlander bested Snell in WHIP, in 34 more innings and had 69 more strikeouts to narrowly edge the younger, lefty of the Rays for the honor of top Fantasy Pitcher in the American League.