Relief Pitcher: Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
2018 fWAR: 3.6
Outside of the obvious improvements, the biggest change in Treinen’s game was his strikeouts — he posted a career-high 31.3% rate in ’18 after never posting a season-long rate higher than 24.0%. The right-hander’s career-best 42.8% chase rate likely shoulders part of the responsibility here, along with the ditching of his changeup in favor of a cutter, which he threw at an 11.8% clip.
It’s hard to believe, but Treinen got better as the year went on. Entering August, he owned a 1.00 ERA and 31.7% strikeout rate in 54 innings. Over his final 26.1 frames, he posted a ridiculous 0.34 ERA with a 32.0% strikeout rate. With more career-best marks in BABIP allowed (.230) and strand rate (85.9%) without a huge change in his batted-ball profile, some form of regression is likely to hit in 2019. For now, though, it’s appropriate to just be in awe of his dominance.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.