Three Bold Predictions For The Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Season

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 28: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on August 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 28: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on August 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Mitch Keller not only wins National League Rookie of the Year, but receives some Cy Young votes

I’m going to list numbers from Mitch Keller’s, Lance Lynn’s, and Jack Flahety’s 2019 season, and I want you to guess who is who.

Player 1:

FIP: 3.13

SIERA: 3.83

Hard hit rate: 39%

K/9: 10.6

BB/9: 2.55

HR/9: .91

Player 2:

FIP: 3.46

SIERA: 3.68

Hard hit rate: 37.2%

K/9: 10.59

BB/9: 2.52

HR/9: 1.15

Player 3:

FIP: 3.19

SIERA: 3.78

Hard hit rate: 35.9%

K/9: 12.2

BB/9: 3.00

HR/9: 1.13

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t get more unlucky than Mitch Keller did in 2019. Somehow, Keller had a .475 batting average on balls in play. That was almost double of Flaherty’s BAbip, and over .100 more than Lynn’s BAbip. A .475 BAbip is the last thing from sustainable. Plus, with above average exit velo numbers, and ranking in the 83rd+ percentile in fastball spin, fastball velo, and curve spin, Keller is certainly going to see a good amount of improvement next season.

So much so I think he will win National League Rookie of the Year. Most are pinning the award to players Dodgers’ rookies Gavin Lux, or Dustin May, or Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson, and rightfully so. But Keller, despite being a top 40 prospect, is flying under the radar of ROY candidates. If Keller produces anything like his 2019 numbers indicate, Lynn is the floor of his performance while Flaherty is the ceiling of his performance. Both Lynn and Flaherty finished in the top-5 of Cy Young voting last season. Only one pitcher passed Lynn in fWAR in ‘19, that being former Pirate Gerrit Cole (who we all know was so good the past two seasons, he became the highest paid pitcher in MLB history). By the way, Player 1 is Lynn, Player 2 is Flaherty and Player 3 is Keller.