Who’s the most effective pitcher within the league? It is a loaded query, admittedly.
There are some clear candidates that come to thoughts at first. It is onerous to look previous a wholesome Jacob deGrom, who was on tempo for one of many best pitching seasons ever earlier than happening with irritation in his throwing elbow final yr.
Max Scherzer, Corbin Burnes, Kevin Gausman and Zack Wheeler have all made compelling instances over the previous few years, as nicely.
However no hurler has been higher than Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara in 2022. The 26-year outdated has been phenomenal almost MLB’s All-Star break, mixing a nasty mixture of pitches with unbelievable stamina and sturdiness.
Alcantara has been a person on a mission this season. And in consequence, he is the clear-cut frontrunner for the NL Cy Younger as we method the midway level of the season.
So how good has Alcantara been this yr? Sporting Information takes a have a look at the numbers behind Alcantara’s rise to prominence.
Sandy Alcantara by the numbers
Rising velocity has coincided with pitchers getting pulled from video games far sooner than in earlier years. Prior to now, it was virtually a necessity for beginning hurlers to exceed 200 innings to provide themselves an opportunity at profitable the Cy Younger Award.
For comparability, excluding shortened seasons and seasons the place the Cy Younger was gained by relievers, final yr was the primary season that each winners of the Cy Younger Award had lower than 200 innings of labor.
The league is altering. However within the age of dwindling pitch counts and elevated reliance on the bullpen, Alcantara is a breath of recent air. He is pitched a league-leading 123.1 innings thus far, almost 20 innings greater than second place (Robbie Ray with 104.1 innings).
Alcantara’s willingness to go deep into video games has been a sight to behold. And admittedly, there is not any one on his degree by way of endurance. Peep these numbers:
Sandy Alcántara has 8 outings this season of no less than 8 innings
pitched, nobody else has greater than 3 this season.
That can be greater than anybody had in all the 2021 season. pic.twitter.com/HB56QXxg1e
— ESPN Stats & Data (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 6, 2022
Alcantara has pitched no less than seven innings in every of his final 11 begins, based on Fox Sports activities. That is merely unprecedented nowadays. And it is a huge purpose why Alcantara has emerged because the league’s best pitcher in 2022.
Sandy Alcantara throws fuel. His Baseball Savant web page reads like a bushel of cherries — pink throughout. Alcantara is within the 89th percentile in chase charge and 96th percentile in fastball velocity.
All of that got here to move on Tuesday. Alcantara was dealing all evening towards the Angels. He struck out Mike Trout twice — two of his 11 punch-outs on the evening.
However I would enterprise to say Alcantara did not have a greater pair of pitches than this 101 mph fastball he pumped previous Taylor Ward within the prime of the seventh inning.
101MPH WITH THIS MOVEMENT?!?
Sandy. Alcantara. 🔥🔥🔥
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) July 6, 2022
That is filthy. Alcantara hit triple digits two different occasions within the eighth inning. And based on Codify Baseball, Alcantara grew to become the primary beginning pitcher to perform that feat after the seventh inning this season. As a result of that is simply what Alcantara does.
Sandy Alcántara is the one MLB beginning pitcher this yr to throw this quick this late in a recreation due to course he’s. No different starter has thrown quicker than 99.1 MPH after the seventh inning this season. https://t.co/nI9umgkIKK
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) July 6, 2022
We sometimes affiliate excessive velocity with strikeouts. And for good purpose.
However here is the factor: Alcantara isn’t a strikeout pitcher. Not less than not within the conventional sense. Sure, he will get his fair proportion of Okay’s — he had 201 final yr.
However Alcantara solely averages 7.8 Okay’s/9. That pales compared to high-heat hurlers like Dylan Stop (13.08 Okay’s/9), Shane McClanahan (12.17 Okay’s/9) and Gerrit Cole (11.28 Okay’s/9).
So how does Alcantara do it? He coaxes weak contact.
Alcantara has a 56.5% floor ball charge, based on FanGraphs. That is the third-best floor ball charge within the league amongst certified pitchers.
Merely put, Alcantara does not let hitters get good contact on the ball. He sits within the 87th percentile in common exit velocity and within the 89th percentile in barrel charge.
Alcantara is a whiz at forcing batters to hit the ball softly. And that’s bore out within the stats: he is given up simply six homers in 123.1 innings, whereas his home-run-to-fly-ball charge is simply 6.3 %, the fourth-best charge within the league.
Generally, the easiest way to quantify a pitcher’s effectiveness is the best, too. ERA does not all the time inform the entire story a few pitcher’s dominance. However it may be a useful gizmo.
And with a 1.82 ERA, Alcantara stands head and shoulders above the remainder of the league. Alcantara has the third-best ERA of certified pitchers — solely the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin (1.54) and McClanahan (1.74) are higher in that regard.
Nonetheless, I would argue Alcantara has been the most effective of the three pitchers. Gonsolin has solely thrown 81.2 innings this season — or over 40 innings lower than Alcantara. In the meantime, McClanahan’s ERA+, which normalizes pitchers’ ERA by taking into consideration exterior elements like ballpark dimensions and opponents, is 204. Fairly good, proper? Properly, Alcantara’s ERA+ is at 228. Benefit Sandy.
Ah sure, WAR. That lovely, lovely stat that aggregates participant’s contributions by detailing how significantly better a participant is than the typical, replacement-level participant at his place.
I do know it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. However Alcantara stands out in that side, as nicely. The Dominican Republic native has a 4.8 bWAR. Not solely is that higher than some other pitcher within the league — almost a full win higher than final yr’s unanimous AL MVP winner Shohei Ohtani. However Alcantara has the most effective bWAR amongst any participant, pitcher or place participant, thus far this season.
That is greater than Paul Goldschmidt, the presumptive NL MVP favourite.
That is greater than Nolan Arenado, among the best two-way gamers of his era.
That is greater than Max Fried, the closest pitcher to Alcantara, who nonetheless sits a win away from Alcantara’s bWAR whole.
Merely, Alcantara has been the standout participant at his place within the league. And it is because of this that he’s the most effective pitcher in baseball…no less than till deGrom returns.