I’m gonna throw out a super weird stat for you. Ready? Here it goes: Lance Lynn is currently the second best pitcher in all of baseball, according to Fangraphs. Seriously. If you were like me, that statement was definitely worth a double take at your computer screen. Lynn has always been a solid, if unspectacular starter throughout his MLB career which up until recently was confined to the wastelands of St. Louis. He debuted with somewhat of a bang in 2012, winning 18 games with a 3.78 ERA and 180 strikeouts. That 18 wins has been the high watermark for him so far, as the closest he’s gotten since then was 15 (twice, in 2013 and 2014). His stats have been pretty consistent along those lines, averaging somewhere between a 3.60-4.00 ERA, hovering around 170 Ks and a decent 3ish WAR.
So how has he gone from these satisfactory numbers to the more impressive ones he has this year? Pitchers in their 7th season of playing usually don’t end up with their best seasons unless you’re Charlie Morton and the Astros have sprinkled their pixie dust on your elbow. So is there a regression cliff ahead of this guy’s road to the AL Cy Young award? If you look at the advanced stats you’d be surprised to see (again) that his numbers could actually stand to be a little better. His K/9% is within his career averages, as is his BABIP and his strand rate. His HR/FB ratio is down, but not to the point where you’d think it’s an aberration, especially with someone who’s fastball has a lot of sink on it. So here’s where it gets kinda weird. His FIP currently sits an entire point below his ERA, which leads you to believe that he’s not getting any help behind him, and he plays in a shit stadium for pitchers both things that are accurate.
He’s also added a few MPH to his fastball, which at his age is fairly impressive. The other thing he’s doing is throwing the ball more consistently for strikes, cutting his walk rate by a few percent. He’s also gotten his swinging strike rate up above 10%, which he hasn’t been able to do in half a decade. Lynn credits the Rangers strength and conditioning coach with the increased velocity, and his ability to go deeper into games. So taking all that into account, it certainly seems like this Lance Lynn is the real deal, at least as far as I can tell looking at his advanced stats (and my fantasy baseball team ranking). All this could be a mirage, I suppose, but the numbers don’t really support any severe regression coming. Maybe all you have to do as a pitcher is get as far away from Imo’s Pizza as you possibly can?
The Rangers have definitely gotten themselves a steal in the offseason. He’s certainly a major reason why Texas is in the thick of things in the AL west, and major obstacle for the Sox this weekend, especially if Leury Garcia and Yoan Moncada are hurting more than Galaxy Brain Renteria is letting on.