A look at Hyun-Jin Ryu's historic 2019 season (so far)

The Dodgers’ bullpen robbed Hyun-Jin Ryu of what would’ve been his major league-best 10th win of the season. Ryu had another stellar outing, allowing one earned run in six innings. He struck out six without allowing a walk. 

Ryu’s 1.36 ERA is the best in the majors this season.  He’s on pace to have the lowest single-season ERA by a pitcher in Dodgers’ franchise history (ERA became an official statistic in the National League in 1912 and 1913 in the American League).  The current record belongs to Rube Marguard, who had a 1.58 ERA for the 1916 Brooklyn Robins. 

But, let’s go further: Ryu is on pace to have the sixth-lowest ERA in MLB history. 


Lowest Single-Season ERA in MLB History

Among Qualified Pitchers

Dutch Leonard            0.96                 1914 Red Sox

Bob Gibson                 1.12                 1968 Cardinals

Walter Johnson           1.14                 1913 Senators

Pete Alexander           1.22                 1915 Phillies

Walter Johnson           1.27                 1918 Senators

Hyun-Jin Ryu              1.36                 2019 Dodgers


What’s been the secret to Ryu’s success this season? I believe there are two key factors.

He doesn’t walk batters.

Ryu has faced 320 hitters this season.  He’s walked just five of them.   The only batters to walk against Ryu this season are Paul Goldschmidt, Jesus Aguilar, Brian Dozier, Eugenio Suarez and Todd Frazier—all former All-Stars. 

Ryu has struck out 77 batters this season, meaning he has a 15.4 strikeout-to-walk rate.  That’s by far the best in the majors.  Carlos Carrasco has the second-best strikeout-to-walk rate at 7.2.  Ryu’s rate is also on pace to be the second-best in major league history.  Candy Cummings struck out 82 and walked four in 416 innings back in 1875.

Yes.

You read that right.

1875.   

Does anyone remember 1875? There were only 37 states in the United States.  Ulysses S. Grant was President. Honus Wagner was barely a year old. Ty Cobb wouldn’t be born for another eleven years.  And that was the last time a pitcher finished a year with a higher strikeout-to-walk rate than Ryu.  Also, keep in mind that it took nine balls to walk a batter in 1875.  Not four. Nine! 

When runners get on base, they don’t score. 

Opposing batters are hitting just .037 against Ryu with runners in scoring position this season.  That’s two hits in 54 at-bats.  Each of the two hits were singles that came in the same inning!  Francisco Cervelli and Cole Tucker of the Pirates had back-to-back hits against Ryu on May 25.  Only one run scored via those two hits. 

For context, the lowest batting average against for a pitcher, with RISP, in the last one hundred years, is .088.  (This is with a minimum 100 AB against with RISP).  That was by Blake Snell just last season. 

The lowest opponents’ OBP by a pitcher, with RISP, in the last one hundred years, is .176 (Francisco Liriano for the 2006 Twins).  Ryu’s is .054. 

The lowest opponents’ SLG by a pitcher, with RISP, in the last one hundred years, is .130.  Mel Rojas posted the number back in 1992 for the Expos.  Ryu’s is .037. 

I doubt Ryu will continue his dominance at this level for the remainder of the 2019 season.  However, I do believe he’ll finish the year with one of the great seasons we’ve seen in recent memory.  Here are the number’s he’s on pace for:

Hyun-Jin Ryu

On-Pace Numbers for 2019

W-L                 22-2

ERA                1.36

IP                    208

K/BB               186/12

WHIP              0.80

To counter the doubters, Ryu also put up great numbers last season—a 1.97 ERA, 89 strikeouts, 15 walks in 82.1 innings.  Granted, he made just 15 starts due to a left groin strain. 

So, Ryu has made 28 starts since the start of 2018—roughly a full season’s worth.  His combined numbers are below:


Hyun-Jin Ryu

Since the start of 2018

W-L                 16-4

ERA                1.66

IP                    168.1

K/BB               166/20

WHIP              0.90

What if, in February, I said a Dodgers’ lefty would win the NL CY Young award this season?  You’d probably think there’d be a chance — Clayton Kershaw’s on the roster after all. But, Hyun-Jin Ryu?

No way!

Well, fast forward to June. If the season ended today, Ryu would be the NL CY Young winner. 

Way!

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