It speaks volumes that Jayson Stark, ESPN’s esteemed baseball reporter, writes to make a case for Aroldis Chapman’s as this year’s National League Cy Young winner. It is no doubt that the Cincinnati Reds’ left-handed closer has been baseball’s most dominant pitcher.
106 strikeouts. 25 hits. Averaging 17 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents’ batting average of .127. Staggering numbers by any baseball player’s standard.
Then you take a look at this earned run average. 1.26. A number so low that pitchers only dream of it. Zoom in and you see that most of Aroldis’ runs came against AL batters during interleague play. His ERA against NL batters? .71.
But history is against Aroldis. Only one reliever, Eric Gagne, has won the Cy Young in the last twenty years. Most voters consider it a “starting pitchers-only” award despite it being named for “best pitcher in baseball.”
Aroldis’ path to the MLB wasn’t easy. He played for the Cuban national team but desired an escape. He finally defected from Cuba in 2009 and was quickly signed by the Reds in 2010 to a six-year deal. It took him eight months to make his major league debut – where he promptly tossed a 105 mph fastball.
He is now on pace to destroy pitching records and wood bats. Aroldis’ professional career is just two years old and far from over. Unfortunately for opposing batters in the NL, that means that triple-digit fastball will be haunting them for years to come.