Snell Snags Rookie Honor

November 16th, 2018 by Kevin

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2018 was a strong year for first year DTBL pitchers, particularly ones that were not near the top of most teams’ draft lists.  But one stood out among the rest.  Blake Snell overcame his modest draft stock and his status on a MLB team that was at the forefront of “bullpenning” to become a front line starting pitcher.  The Rays lefty won the American League Cy Young award earlier this week and will have a shot at winning that same award in the DTBL as well.  The Cougars managed to turn their tenth round draft pick into the top rookie in the league this season.  By unanimous decision, Blake Snell is the 2018 DTBL Rookie of the Year.

Snell’s 2018 campaign is on the short list of greatest rookie pitching campaigns in DTBL history.  He led the entire league with 21 wins, trailed only Jacob deGrom in ERA (1.89) and finished in the top five in WHIP (0.974) as well.  He also struck out 221 hitters in just 180 2/3 innings pitched.  He posted a 12.6 PAR, ranking third among all pitchers and just 1.4 points behind the league leader.  The only past rookie with very similar numbers across the board was Jake Arrieta who won both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young in 2015.  But Arrieta was a 29 year old veteran at that time.  Snell is just 25 and figures to have a lot more peak seasons ahead of him.  Will Snell repeat Arrieta’s feat of the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young double?  Stay tuned.  He has a chance.

The Cougars absolutely stole Snell in the 10th round of this year’s draft.  97 players, including 22 starting pitchers, were selected ahead of Snell.  This is the second straight year that the Rookie of the Year award has gone to a player overlooked by almost everybody.  Aaron Judge won the award after going undrafted a year ago.  The Cougars now have two of the past three winners of this award, joining Kris Bryant who took home the honor in 2016.  Snell was easily their best pitcher this season, helping make up for disappointing and injury riddled seasons from their previous staff aces Madison Bumgarner and Chris Archer.  If Bumgarner can return to form next year, the Cougars could have a very strong top of the rotation with Bumgarner, Snell and another nice draft pick, sixth rounder Jameson Taillon.

While this was a pretty strong rookie class, particularly in the pitching ranks, Snell was the easy choice for this award.  He received all ten first place votes, the third unanimous winner of the award in the past four years.  Coming in second was a player who was actually playing for his second DTBL team, Jackalope fireballer Luis Severino.  Severino was draft by the Naturals back in 2016, but did not make an appearance on their major league roster, preserving his rookie eligibility.  He had a dominant season, striking out 220 with 19 wins, which also rank quite highly on the all-time rookie lists.  But the overall numbers weren’t quite at Snell’s level.  Severino appeared on all ten ballots, receiving six second place votes to finish with 60 points.  Just behind him was the best rookie hitter, Choppers second baseman Whit Merrifield.  Merrifield was picked right after Severino in the draft as well, fourth overall.  He posted a somewhat quiet 6.8 PAR season on the strength of a .304 average and a league leading 45 steals.  Merrifield was the third and final player to appear on all ten ballots, including four second place votes for a point total of 52.  There was a pretty big drop-off in the voting after those three.  Coming next, in a tie for fourth place were Naturals pitcher Mike Clevinger and Mavericks second baseman Ozzie Albies.  Clevinger was actually drafted even later than Snell, in the eleventh round.  He joined his Indians teammate Carlos Carrasco as the Naturals best pitchers this season.  Meanwhile, Albies turned in a nice rookie campaign, rewarding the Mavericks for selecting him with the last pick of the first round.  Clevinger and Albies each received a single third place vote on their way to compiling 12 total points.

Click here to view the full voting results.

The tentative schedule for the announcements of the other two awards are Sunday for Cy Young and next Tuesday for Most Valuable Player.  Neither of those awards figure to be as lopsided in the voting as this one was, so be sure to check out those results.  I know there were a few technical glitches in the voting this year, so I apologize for that.  Hopefully cleaning up the voting process will be one of many enhancements I make this offseason.

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