2018 Wrap Up: Fantasy NL 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.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG
5 – Miles Mikolas, SP, Cardinals (18-4, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 146 in 200.2 IP): His record was excellent (he tied for the league lead in wins). His .812 percent winning percentage was outstanding. His ERA was 4th best in the NL. His 1.07 WHIP was 5th best. He was one of just seven arms that threw 200-innings in the Senior Circuit. The only reason he sits 5th on the fantasy Cy list is the lack of strikeouts. Mikolas total of 146 punchouts was tied for 24th in the NL while his 6.55 K/9 rate was 28 out of 29 qualifiers for the ERA title (162 innings pitched – Ivan Nova at 6.37). Mikolas was tremendous, and given his virtually non-existent cost on draft day, he was one of the breakout stars of the season in his return from across the sea. The lack of punchouts though relegate him to fifth on the list, which is hardly a negative at all.
4 – Patrick Corbin, SP, Diamondbacks (11-7, 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 246 Ks in 200 IP): Many were waiting for Corbin to fail, or at least to significantly regress, as the innings piled up. Most folks were certain that, in the very least, his strikeout rate would slow. In fact, it never did. After posting a K/9 rate of 10.96 in the first half the number actually went up in the second half to 11.24. The result was a massive 11.07 K/9 rate, more than two and half batters above his career mark. He kept control of the strike zone as well with an impressive 2.16 BB/9 rate leading to an elite 5.13 K/BB ratio. He also basically cut his 2016-17 HR/9 rate in half at 0.68 as he kept rocking the grounders with a 1.78 GB/FB ratio. He was impressive for most of the season, and only lacked the victories to round out what was an impressive campaign.
3 – Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (17-6, 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 224 Ks in 212.1 IP): Broke out in 2017 but had an even grander effort in ’18 as he added the on missing ingredient in his game – the workload. Dogged a bit by health concerns, Nola not only took the ball 33 times this season but he also blew past 200-innings pitched. Though he lost a few tenths off the strikeout rate from 2017, he still struck out more than a batter per inning while posting an impressive 3.86 K/BB ratio. He was also right on his career GB/FB ratio at 1.67, just four hundredths worse than his 1.71 career mark. Still, he slightly bettered the ground ball rate at 50 percent, and that combination of grounders, strikeouts and a lack of walks, 2.46 per nine, was key to his success. He also posted a 10.6 HR/FB ratio, a four-year low (career: 12.4), which led to a career best 0.72 homer per nine mark and a third straight year under 1.00. Nola was a fantasy ace, and in many years he would have been the best fantasy pitcher in his league.
2 – Jacob deGrom, SP, Mets (10-9, 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 269 Ks in 217 IP): deGrom pitched well enough to win the title as the best fantasy arm in the NL, but the fact that he only won 10 games ultimately denied him that title. A couple of notes. (1) deGrom posted an ERA+ of 216. He was 116 percent better than the league average in this measure. (2) He allowed zero earned runs in eight starts. (3) He allowed one earned run in 10 starts. (4) He allowed two earned runs in five starts. (4) He allowed three earned runs in eight starts. (5) He allowed four earned runs once. (6) He never allowed more than four earned runs in an outing. He won just 10 games. He was phenomenal. Period.
1 – Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals (18-7, 2.53 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 300 Ks in 220.2 IP): Scherzer tied for the league lead in wins (Mikolas, Jon Lester). Scherzer was third in the league in ERA. Scherzer led the league in WHIP. Scherzer led the league in strikeouts (31 more than anyone else). Scherzer also led the league in innings pitched (220.2). Ultimately, Scherzer’s eight-win advantage over deGrom is why he finished in the top spot. On a per inning bases the Mets’ hurler was more effective, but his greatness just couldn’t overcome the lack of victories as he suffered from horrible support by his teammates. By the way, Scherzer’s average effort, the last six years, is 18 wins, a 2.81 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP with 270 strikeouts over 219 innings, and those numbers are a virtual match for the numbers he posted this season across the board.