Doug Drabek, 1992
Doug Drabek may have won the National League Cy Young in 1990 and didn’t go to the All-Star Game, but his 1992 season was even better than his 1990 campaign.
In 1992, Drabek got off to a great start to the season. His first 140 innings of the season saw the right hander have a 2.76 ERA, 2.93 FIP and 1.04 WHIP. Drabek never was a big strikeout pitcher as he only struck out 18.2% of the batters he faced, but was outstanding at limiting free passes. He only surrendered 28, giving him a 5.1% walk rate. Home runs also weren’t an issue for Drabek with a 0.64 HR/9.
The main reason Drabek didn’t make the All-Star Game was because he had a 7-7 record. The Pittsburgh Pirates, despite being a great team in 1992, just weren’t able to give Drabek too much run support in his starts.
All told in 1992, Drabek had a 2.77 ERA, 2.91 FIP and 1.06 WHIP across 256.2 innings of work. Drabek struck out just 17.3% of the batters he faced but walked them at a strong 5.3% rate. He also gave up just 17 home runs, resulting in a 0.6 HR/9. Drabek’s 4.8 fWAR ended up being the highest mark of his career.
So why, despite this being his best professional season, was this 1992 season overlooked compared to his 1990 Cy Young season? Well Drabek went 15-11 in 1992, and 22-6 in 1990. Up until recently, award voters put a lot of weight into pitcher record, a factor that pitchers don’t have any control over, than they should have. 22 wins looks nicer than 15 wins, despite the fact he struck out more batters, walked less, gave up less home runs, and earned runs at an identical rate in 1992 compared to 1990.