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Pitcher of the Year: nominations open

The penultimate ‘Pittie category is now up for discussion

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

With Zack Greinke enjoying a comfortable lead by both fWAR and (especially) bWAR, there may not seem to be too much worth discussing here. But the rest of the candidates are considerably less clear, and it may be the case that figuring out the nominees will prove a more interesting topic than the relatively simple task of choosing a winner. Though the fact that Greinke was absent for the final two months of the season could potentially be a factor. There were only two pitchers who spent the entire year in the rotation: Robbie Ray and Merrill Kelly, and they had similar ERAs of 4.34 and 4.42 respectively. But the way they went about reaching that mark was radically different.

Ray had a K per nine innings above 12; Kelly’s figure was below 8. But he walked batters at a third lower rate than Ray. As a result, the K:BB was closer than you might expect: Ray came in at 2.79, and Kelly 2.77. Ray just edged Kelly in both bWAR (1.5/1.4) and bWAR (2.4/2.0), but Kelly had most IP of anyone on the D-backs in 2019. Beyond them as starters, you’ve got a slew of people who popped in and out of the rotation for one reason or other. Luke Weaver picked up 1.8 fWAR/1.7 bWAR in a dozen games for the D-backs but was curtailed by injury. Zac Gallen came in after, effectively, being swapped for Greinke, impressing bWAR (1.3) coniderably more than fWAR (0.8). And Alex Young has already been well-documented.

Moving over to the reliever side, WAR is perhaps not the best tool by which to judge a bullpen pitcher’s results. But Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin and Matt Andriese were the top three contenders there. If you’d rather use Win Probability, however, there’s a bit of a surprise in the #1 slot: that belongs to Kevin Ginkel, who was at +169% for the season. Bradley, Chafin and Jon Duplantier were all also better than +100%. Ginkel was helped by an impressive ratio of Shutdowns/Meltdowns of 11:1; Bradley (26:8) was the only other reliever with more than five such outings, to have a ratio better than 3:1.

I’m probably going to end up with three starters and two relieves in the final selection, but I’m prepared to hear arguments for why that ratio should be changed in the voting. Make your case for the candidates in the comments, and we’ll have a vote on Friday.