I feel like i’ve already written a post on Hyun-Jin Ryu and his greatness. Well here we are a month later and he’s been so good that it needs reiterating. But first, let me rattle off some names for you.
Shields, Teheran, Verlander, Y Ventura, S Gray, J Zimmerman, Price, Santana, Archer, Scherzer, Kazmir, Greinke, Cueto, Samardzija, Cashner, Lester, Wacha, Bumgarner, C Lee, Masahiro Tanaka, Strasburg.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has something that these pitchers don’t. A lower Fielding Independent Pitching.
Essentially, it’s a very good way to predict pitchers ERA going forward, because it takes into account what they can control, strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Hyun-Jin Ryu has a FIP of 2.43, which is the 6th lowest mark in the national league. It is pretty incredible to see his maturation from Korean Pitcher coming to the U.S. as a rookie, and being very deceptively good, to now, being a top 6 starting pitcher in his 11 starts.
All of this is included with the normal caveats that any pitcher has as a result of a hot start. Phil Hughes probably isn’t going to be a top 15 pitcher going forward. Aaron Harang isn’t going to have the lowest FIP from now until the end of the season. Ian Kennedy isn’t going to be the 16th ranked pitcher according to FIP. However, Ryu already has years, and years of success pitching in Korea, dominating there, and compiled 192 innings last season giving up only 3 earned runs per 9 innings, and now here we are 58.1 innings into this sophomore season in American pro ball, and he’s 6th in the league in FIP, and still continues to have a 3.09 ERA.
You could point to his abnormally high strand rate last season as to why he was so good. A 78.2 strand % is normally reserved for pitchers the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez, however this season that number has regressed to a below average 70.8%, and his ERA is nearly as good. How has he done it? His K/9 rate jumped to 7.87, and he is walking a measly 1.88 per 9 innings. That 1.88 BB/9 ranks 19th in baseball, while also giving up a paltry 0.31 HR/9 innings.
So all in all, he’s reduced all of the things he can control, walking people, giving up home runs, and actually raised his strikeouts. This is a reason he has been able to keep his ERA low, despite higher than average percentages in his BABIP (.318) and left on base (70.8%).
If you’re counting, his career ERA in 250.1 innings sits at 3.02 ERA and 3.05 FIP, so the results he is putting out there are legitimate. In terms of runs allowed, in the past season, he ranks 16th in baseball in ERA since the beginning of 2013.
The point here is to recognize that Ryu has been a true ace. 6th lowest FIP this season, coupled with 192 innings of success last season tells me all I need to know. Sure, he’s been a very unconventional ace on a team with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, so much so that he’s been called a “mid rotation starter” when, honestly, he’d be a #1 or #2 on at least 21 MLB teams. However with Greinke and Kershaw missing substantial amount of time in 2013 and 2014, respectively, his excellent results have been needed for a team who is in contention.