Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!


Receive free daily analysis


Already have an account? Log In


Forgot Password


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
News and Alerts

Is it Legit? Blake Snell's 2018 Breakout

What Appears In This Article? hide

We continue with our next edition of "Is It Legit?" to discuss another surprising breakout performer from the 2018 MLB season in order to assess his value heading into 2019.

With so many players seemingly becoming fantasy baseball darlings overnight, it can be challenging to sift through the multiple hype trains and determine which players are actually expected to produce similar, or even better, numbers the following year.

Perhaps no pitcher made more improvements across the board last season than Rays starter Blake Snell, who went from posting a 5-7 record with a 4.04 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 2017 to an elite 21-5, 1.89 ERA, 0.97 WHIP season last year that culminated in a Cy Young award for the 26-year-old left-hander. Snell will no doubt be one of the most highly sought after starters in fantasy next year, but are his numbers from last season legitimate or is he a case of smoke and mirrors?

Featured Promo: Get any full-season MLB and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Team Sync platform, Premium articles, daily Matchup Rating projections, 15 lineup tools, DFS cheat sheets, Research Stations, Lineup Optimizers and much more! Go Premium, Win More!


Can Snell Repeat in 2019?

Taking a look at Snell's numbers from last season is a lot of fun. The first, perhaps most notable, thing that might scare fantasy owners away is his 2.94 FIP - indicating that his 1.89 ERA is probably unsustainable going forward. Duh. I don't think anyone would, or should, expect Snell to post back-to-back sub-2.00 ERA seasons. Still, a 2.94 ERA is something you'll take day in and day out, so no worries there. Plus, Snell's first-half ERA of 2.27 came down to a staggeringly low 1.17 in the second half.

In fact, let's take a look at Snell's second-half numbers, across 61.2 innings pitched:

1.17 ERA
0.79 WHIP
87 Strikeouts (12.70 K/9)
17 Walks (2.48 BB/9)
.153/.217/.242 Opponents slash

No other way to look at it, Snell was flat-out dominant in the second half of the season. But again, can this type of production sustain into 2019?

Snell's breakout was fueled by a massive improvement in his strikeout rate and his walk rate. He went from an 8.28 K/9 to 11.1, and dropped his walk rate from 4.11 BB/9 to 3.19. Al Melchior of Fangraphs took a look at walk-rate breakouts, and came to the conclusion that players who drop their walk rate suddenly have a good chance of repeating it the following year, although it is by no means a guarantee.

Snell certainly made what appear to be sustainable improvements to his command, improving his first pitch strike rate by over 3% and his overall zone rate by 1.5%. Plus, an increase in opponents chasing pitches out of the zone helped as well.

Still, seeing a player's walk rate plummet like Snell's is a bit of a cause for concern. Even with the improvement to his zone rate, he still throws the ball out of the strike zone over 60% of the time. If his walk totals creep back up next season, his value will come down.

On the other side, Snell's strikeout stuff does look somewhat sustainable. Obviously, his 0-swing (or chase) rate improving was a big part of his success, as was his first pitch strike rate. He also saw his swinging-strike rate improve from 10.8% to 15.1%, a massive change that helped lead to a 10% increase in strikeouts.

Part of that change was a big increase in his curveball usage, which spiked from 10.3% thrown in 2017 to 20.2% in 2018. That curve was one of the best pitches in all of baseball, earning a 24.5% swinging strike rate, a 45.4% chase rate and a 13.7 pVAL. Basically, Snell realized that using his best pitch 10% more often is a good thing. Who knew?

Of course, hitters may adjust to Snell's curveball in time, but one can expect that he will rely on that pitch a lot in 2019, which should help keep his strikeout numbers up.

STEAMER projects Snell to post a 3.23 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, a 11.01 K/9 and a 3.59 BB/9. That points to some regression for the Cy Young winner, which is to be expected. That also points to a top-ten starting pitcher in all fantasy formats, meaning he should still be drafted quite highly - particularly in leagues that value K/9.

If fantasy owners want to reach for Snell as the No. 1 or 2 pitcher off the board, let them. But as the No. 7-9 arm, I'd be happy to snag Snell and get that strikeout potential for 2019.


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
News and Alerts


Kaapo Kahkonen2 hours ago

Makes 44 Saves In Victory
Mikael Granlund2 hours ago

Totals Season-High Three Points
Anthony Duclair2 hours ago

Scores Two Goals In Victory
NJ2 hours ago

Simon Nemec Collects Two Points In NHL Debut
Ausar Thompson4 hours ago

Probable Against Cleveland
Bojan Bogdanovic4 hours ago

Likely To Return On Saturday
Caris LeVert4 hours ago

Sitting Out Against Detroit
Brandon Miller4 hours ago

Battling An Ankle Issue
Anthony Edwards4 hours ago

Not Expected To Play On Saturday
Andrew Wiggins7 hours ago

Questionable For Rematch With The Clippers
Trey Lyles7 hours ago

Won't Play Versus Denver
Keegan Murray7 hours ago

Might Return On Saturday
New York Mets8 hours ago

Yoshinobu Yamamoto Is Where Mets' Focus Lies
Cleveland Browns8 hours ago

Myles Garrett Cleared For Week 13, Denzel Ward Ruled Out
Ezekiel Elliott8 hours ago

Questionable For Week 13
Bailey Zappe9 hours ago

To Start In Week 13
Demario Douglas9 hours ago

Won't Play In Week 13
Travis Etienne Jr.9 hours ago

Remains Limited On Friday
Tee Higgins9 hours ago

A Full Participant On Friday
Dalton Schultz10 hours ago

Won't Play In Week 13
Noah Brown10 hours ago

Tank Dell, Noah Brown Questionable For Week 13
Dorian Thompson-Robinson10 hours ago

Won't Play Sunday, Joe Flacco To Start
Keenan Allen11 hours ago

Questionable For Week 13
Dallas Goedert11 hours ago

Doubtful To Play In Week 13
Treylon Burks11 hours ago

Questionable To Face Colts
DeMar DeRozan11 hours ago

Uncertain To Play Against Pelicans On Saturday
Pat Connaughton11 hours ago

Ruled Out On Saturday
Keegan Murray11 hours ago

Practices On Friday
Chris Olave11 hours ago

Still In Concussion Protocol But Not Ruled Out
Doug McDermott11 hours ago

Will Not Play Against Pelicans
Luka Doncic12 hours ago

Ruled Out On Friday Due To Personal Reasons
Joel Embiid12 hours ago

Will Be True Game-Time Decision On Friday
Devin Booker12 hours ago

Will Sit Out Against Nuggets On Friday
Victor Wembanyama12 hours ago

Will Be Sidelined On Friday
Trey McBride12 hours ago

Iffy For Week 13 Action
Marquise Brown12 hours ago

Officially Questionable Against Steelers
Julius Randle12 hours ago

Tagged As Questionable On Friday
Dalvin Cook12 hours ago

Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook Questionable For Week 13
Treylon Burks12 hours ago

Cleared To Play In Week 13
Aaron Jones13 hours ago

Ruled Out For Week 13
Jerick McKinnon13 hours ago

Chiefs Expect Jerick McKinnon, Kadarius Toney To Play In Week 13
Dougie Hamilton13 hours ago

Simon Nemec Called Up To Devils Friday, Dougie Hamilton Placed On IR
Zach Charbonnet13 hours ago

Dealing With Swelling In Knee
Adin Hill14 hours ago

Leaves Thursday's Contest Early As Precaution
Timo Meier14 hours ago

Close To Returning, Could Play Friday
Jonathan Taylor14 hours ago

Officially Ruled Out
Sam Montembeault14 hours ago

Signs Three-Year Extension With Canadiens
Nikita Zadorov14 hours ago

Traded To Vancouver
Beneil Dariush16 hours ago

Arman Tsarukyan A Favorite Over Beneil Dariush At UFC Austin
Jack Eichel16 hours ago

Steers Vegas Back On Track
Beneil Dariush16 hours ago

Has A Dangerous Task In Front Of Him
Brayden Schenn16 hours ago

Leads Blues To Victory Thursday
Bobby Green16 hours ago

Looking For Third Win In A Row
Noah Dobson16 hours ago

Grabs Three Assists In Thursday's Win
Jalin Turner16 hours ago

A Favorite At UFC Austin
Tyrese Haliburton16 hours ago

Notches Another Big-Time Performance
Jack Hughes16 hours ago

Adds Three More Points To His Tally
Dustin Stoltzfus16 hours ago

In Dire Need Of Victory
Trae Young16 hours ago

Posts A 45-Point Double-Double
Tom Wilson17 hours ago

Celebrates First Career Hat Trick
Jalen Brunson17 hours ago

Drops 42 Points In Win Over Pistons
Punahele Soriano17 hours ago

Looking To Return To Win Column
Jonathan Isaac17 hours ago

Tagged As Questionable On Friday
Tristan Jarry17 hours ago

Caps Off Winning Performance With Historic Goal
Mitchell Marner1 day ago

Scores Hat Trick In Victory
Alex Lyon1 day ago

Earns Third Consecutive Victory
Jeremy Swayman1 day ago

Posts Shutout Against Sharks
Matt McLain1 day ago

Fully Healed
Shohei Ohtani1 day ago

Wins Most Outstanding Designated Hitter Award
Zach Hyman1 day ago

Ready To Return On Thursday
Juuso Valimaki1 day ago

Back For Coyotes On Thursday
Ilya Mikheyev1 day ago

Good To Go Thursday
Dylan Cease2 days ago

Cardinals Interested In Dylan Cease
Joaquim Silva2 days ago

Looking To Return To The Win Column
Clay Guida2 days ago

Set For 36th UFC Fight
Kelvin Gastelum2 days ago

Returns To Welterweight
Tyler Glasnow2 days ago

Cubs Have Held Trade Talks On Tyler Glasnow
Sean Brady2 days ago

Looking To Rebound After First Career Loss
Deiveson Figueiredo2 days ago

Moving Up To Bantamweight
Rob Font2 days ago

Set For Third Fight Of 2023
Nick Martinez2 days ago

Agrees To Two-Year Deal With Reds
Jackson Chourio2 days ago

Brewers Expected To Complete Record-Breaking Deal
Joey Wendle2 days ago

Agrees With Mets
Devin Williams2 days ago

Wins NL Reliever Of The Year Award
Félix Bautista2 days ago

Felix Bautista Named AL Reliever Of The Year
Luis Severino2 days ago

Mets, Luis Severino Finalizing One-Year Deal
Shohei Ohtani2 days ago

Expected To Sign Before End Of Winter Meetings
Dylan Cease2 days ago

Trade Talks For Dylan Cease Have Intensified
Randy Arozarena3 days ago

Being Shopped By Rays
Bo Bichette3 days ago

Likely Staying Put
Emilio Pagán3 days ago

Emilio Pagan Agrees To Two-Year Pact With Reds
Dylan Cease3 days ago

Dodgers "Among Most Aggressive" Teams For Dylan Cease
Shohei Ohtani3 days ago

Yoshinobu Yamamoto "Above All Other Options" For Giants
Juan Soto3 days ago

"Almost Certain To Be Traded"
Cody Bellinger3 days ago

Earns NL Comeback Player Of The Year Award
Liam Hendriks3 days ago

Earns AL Comeback Player Of The Year Award