One Of The 10 Greatest Pitching Seasons Ever

... or close to it, anyway. Let's see if you can guess who put up these numbers:

  • 201 innings pitched
  • 248 strikeouts
  • 64 unintentional walks
  • 127 hits allowed
  • only 4 home runs allowed
  • 1.39 ERA (277 ERA+)
  • 2.05 FIP
  • +9.5 Win Probability Added
  • +9.3 WAR (Baseball-Reference version)

That's quite a year. This season ranks 2nd all-time in WPA behind only Dwight Gooden's transcendent 1985. It's also second all-time in ERA, behind Bob Gibson's legendary 1968 and 2nd in ERA+ to Pedro Martinez's ridiculous 2000 season.

This season ranks 8th in hits per 9 innings (5.69 H/9), plus the top 20 in brWAR, strikeouts per 9 innings (at 11.1 K/9), and several other stats. That low-2 FIP is also very impressive, though FanGraphs doesn't let you search for the best FIP seasons of all time, so I don't know where it ranks.

The one real weakness of this season is the relatively low innings total, which holds back some of the counting stats. But that's okay, because this season isn't done yet. There's still a month to go. Extrapolating to the end of the season, we could see 241 IP, 298 strikeouts, +11.1 brWAR, and +11.4 WPA. That would rank 4th all-time in brWAR and 1st (by a mile) in WPA.

The last paragraph provides a pretty big hint. The answer is after the jump.

OK, so it was kind of a trick. This "season" was put up by not one, but three pitchers: Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, and Eric O'Flaherty. It's still in progress, obviously, so the numbers above could just as easily get worse as get better. Regardless, though, combining their numbers and comparing them to those of great starting pitcher seasons really helps put in perspective just how historically phenomenal those 3 guys have been in the back end of the Braves' bullpen.

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