Alek Manoah is balling.
The 24-year-old West Virginia product has been pitching one of the best seasons in Blue Jays history thus far. His play, his personality, and his punchies have made him an overnight baseball sensation, and he’s gaining fans even from outside Jays Nation.
However, he’s now pitched for more than a calendar year. Hitters all over the league are preparing for him. His low strikeout numbers leave something to be desired. Can he sustain this level of success?
There’s certainly no doubt that low strikeout pitchers can have immense success. Sandy Alcantara is pitching better than anyone in baseball right now, and he’s doing it with a K/9 of 8.29, only 0.09 higher than Alek Manoah’s. Perhaps more importantly, this isn’t Alcantara’s first time pitching to this level of success.
Assuming the Marlins lefty doesn’t suffer a sudden drop in performance, 2022 will be his 3rd straight year with an ERA under 3.25, and his 2nd with an fWAR above 4.0. In 2022, he’s putting up a FIP of 2.78, and an xFIP of 3.27. While these numbers certainly aren’t as dazzling as that 1.81 ERA, both are significantly above league average. Alcantara has been sustaining his low strikeout success, and should continue to do so in the future. Because of the fact that Manoah is the same type of pitcher, it would be easy to think that the same is true of him. However, it’s important to note the differences between Sandy and Alek.
In baseball, there are many ways to achieve an out. However, not all ways are created equal. Some are higher risk and higher reward. Some are more efficient than others. Some are more difficult to achieve than others. Some are less consistently effective than others. But which ways are definitively the best? Here’s a list of xwOBA allowed, based on how the at-bat ends.
Without a batted ball (walk or strikeout): .183 xwOBA
Groundball: .222 xwOBA …
Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation