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The Season That Was: Alek Manoah

A look at Manoah’s 2021 season.

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Alek Manoah was the Blue Jays' first pick in the 2019 draft, number 11 overall.

He was number 4 on our 2020 top prospects list. Matt wrote:

If the change-up/a third pitch comes along and with reasonable command, Manoah profiles as a durable front of the rotation starter. If not, two plus-pitches could still leave him as a starter with varying outcomes start-to-start; think 2010-2012 Brandon Morrow results. Otherwise, he could profile as a shutdown reliever, especially if the command isn’t so good.

The Jays called him up in late May, and he made his first start on May 27th (game one of a doubleheader in New York against the Yankees). He gave us 6 shutout innings, not a bad way to start a career.

The rest of the season went pretty well too:

Standard Pitching
9 2 3.22 20 20 0 0 0 111.2 77 44 40 12 40 0 127 16 1 0 459 136 3.80
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/31/2021.

Not a bad rookie year.

Baseball Reference has him at a 2.8 WAR. FanGraphs 2.0 giving him a value of $16.1 million for the Blue Jays.

Alek had a .246 BABIP. 76.6% of the base runners he allowed were stranded

His FIP was 3.80 and xFIP 4.17.

His line-drive rate was 20.7%, ground ball rate 38.8% and fly-ball rate 40.6%. 10.7% of his fly balls left the park.

Manoah's strikeout rate was 27.7%, and his walk rate 8.7%.

His soft contact was 19.9%, and his hard contact was 25.7%.

Alek was terrific against RHB (.156/.244/.251) and good against LHB (.228/.33/.376).

He was much better in our various home parks (2.23 ERA, batters hit .153/.258/.243) than on the road (4.08 ERA, .226/.327/.377).

His first half (2.90 ERA, batters hit .188/.280/.369) was slightly better than his second half (3.41, .194/.296/.282).

Manoah by month:

  • May: 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 start. Batters hit .100/.182/.100 in 6 innings.
  • June: 0-0, 4.18 ERA in 5 starts. Batters hit .222/.307/.489 in 23.2 innings.
  • July: 2-1, 1.02 ERA in 3 starts. Batters hit .129/.217/.177 in 17.2 innings.
  • August 2-1, 4.33 ERA in 5 starts. Batters hit .240/.328/.320 in 27 innings.
  • September: 4-0, 3.38 ERA in 6 starts. Batters hit .178/.298/.287 in 37.1 innings.

The Jays were 16-4 in his starts. They averaged 6.42 runs per start. There were 5 of his starts that we scored 3 or fewer runs.

Alek started on:

  • Four days rest 7 times: 3.24 ERA.
  • Five days rest 7 times: 5.09 ERA.
  • Six or more 6 times: 1.30 ERA.

Opponent batting average by time through the order:

  • First: .168/.256/.242
  • Second: ..191/.286/.362
  • Third: ..241/.347/.368

His best start by GameScore was a 90, September 13th against the Rays at home. He went 8 innings, allowed 1 hit, no walks with 10 strikeouts.

His worst start was August 22nd, 17th against the Nationals in Washington. He went 3 innings, allowed 6 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned, 1 walk with 2 strikeouts.

The most pitches he threw in a game were 114. The least: 53. He averaged 92.3 pitches per start.

Alek averaged 5.6 innings per start.

I'm trying to think of what I was doing at age 23. Wouldn't it be nice to have a simple, easy-to-read statistical line telling us what we achieved at a given age? Of course, it would be nice if we could all have a great season on the baseball field to look back at fondly.

Unfortunately, a few AL rookies had great seasons; Alek won't be the Rookie of the Year. If he started the season in the rotation, he'd be much closer to the ones at the top of the ballot. He is the Blue Jays Rookie of the Year.

Where does this rank among great seasons for Blue Jays rookie pitchers?

The best rookie season for any Jays pitcher has to be Mark Eichhorn's 1986 season. He had a 7.3 bWAR, pitching 157 relief innings, with a 1.72 ERA.

Three Jays rookie starting pitchers had a better bWAR than Alek's 2.8:

  • Jerry Garvin: 3.6 bWAR, 4.19 ERA in 34 starts and 244.2 innings. Different eras, I wonder when the last time a rookie pitcher threw 244 innings? I'm sure we won't see that happen again.
  • Juan Guzman: 3.2 bWAR, 2.99 ERA in 23 starts and 138.2 innings.
  • Gustavo Chacin: 3.2 bWAR, 3.72 ERA in 34 starts and 203 innings.

Roy Halladay had a bWAR just below that 2.8 (2.6) with a 3.92 ERA in 149.1 innings. Ricky Romero had a 2.3 bWAR, 4.30 ERA in 29 starts and 178.0 innings.

Which of those starters had the best season likely depends on the eye of the beholder. I hope Alek's career most resembles Halladay's.

I imagine Alek Manoah's name has seen the misspellings of any of our pitchers this year (likely by me alone). But, by now, I'm sure we've got it down—Alek, not Alex, Alec and Manoah with the o in front of the a.

Alek was a very aggressive pitcher. He led the AL in hit batters (tying the team record, Chris Carpenter had 16 in 2001) and was ejected for hitting Maikel Franco (picking up a five-game suspension). Likely walking towards Franco after, looking slightly Jon Rauchish, helped get him expelled.

He's very competitive. Very driven. Very focused. It is going to be fun watching his career.


For his 2021 season, I would grade Alek Manoah an

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