Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The third installment of our award season is for the Brewers Pitcher of the Year. In the entire MLB this is of course called the Cy Young Award, so maybe here it should be called the Ben Sheets Award? I digress. This year, our winner is 25-year-old Wily Peralta, who looked more like a potential ace than ever before.
In my opinion, this award was the hardest to vote for, and Peralta, Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo, and Kyle Lohse all received at least one first place vote from the RtB staff. Complicating matters was a discrepancy between fWAR and rWAR in regards to the Brewers starting pitchers’ performances.
Fangraph’s fWAR, which focuses on FIP, had Garza as the most valuable Brewers starter, and had Peralta as the least valuable. Pro Baseball Reference’s rWar, which focuses on ERA, had the exact opposite, with Peralta the most valuable, and Garza the least.
In spite of my hesitations and these contradictions, Peralta still ran away with the RtB voting. This is likely due to his break-out year, and his fulfillment of many fans hopes. In 2013, he was throwing hard, but struggling with walk rates. Despite his inconsistencies, Peralta was solid, posting a 4.37 ERA.
This lead to much speculation that Peralta’s ceiling could be even higher than the average scout had been comfortable projecting, and hopes were high going into 2014. Peralta’s ability to actually attain this success was huge in gaining voter support. Peralta had the 8th highest walk rate (3.58) in 2013, and cut that number way down this season (2.76), and that change was crucial factor in his improved performance.
Though he had the 3rd highest average fastball velocity in the Bigs, Peralta focuses on pitching more to contact. His sinking fastballs led to him finishing 11th in groundball percentage in the Majors, and Wily frequently left stumped hitters beating his pitches into the infield grass.
Also in Peralta’s favor was posting 17 wins, the most by a Brewer since Gallardo in 2011. While wins are becoming a more and more contested stat in terms of assessing a pitcher’s value, voters still love to see a big number in the ‘W’ column. Peralta is the youngest of the Crew’s projected starters, and looks to outperform his spot in the rotation. While it is widely agreed upon that the Brewers lack a truly dominant ace at the top of their rotation, having a player like Peralta slotted in 4th shows a high level of pitching consistency.
As usual, the actual voting numbers will be released later today, with a recap of the runner-up’s season. Our earlier voting results, for Comeback POY, and Newcomer of the year, can be found here and here, respectively.