Nathan Eovaldi was not chosen as one of the twenty-two starting pitching candidates for the 2021 All-MLB team. The list of nominees includes the top three Cy Young Award candidates from both the National and American League as well as a list of sixteen other top pitchers from around the league. The fans have until November 19th to vote for their top five candidates, and winners will be announced on November 23rd.
Bad News BoSox
Eovaldi had a stellar 2021 campaign for the Boston Red Sox, posting a 3.75 earned run average over 182.1 innings pitched. While an impressive feat, those stats do not show how dominant Eovaldi was in 2021. Eovaldi was pitching in front of a Red Sox defense that was historically bad at converting balls in play into outs, both by traditional metrics, ranking 29th in fielding percentage, and advanced metrics, placing 30th in outs above average. By Statcast metrics, the Red Sox defense had -4 OAA behind Eovaldi, ranking 254th out of 297 qualified pitchers.
An Undeserved Absence
Considering the defense behind him, Eovaldi had a season that was Cy Young caliber, and at the very least deserved an All-MLB mention. Eovaldi led the AL and was third in the MLB in fWAR, which uses fielding independent pitching and innings pitched to determine its leaders. Eovaldi also had the lowest walk rate in the league among qualified starters but the highest batting average on balls in play: another indication that his defense was responsible for many of the baserunners and runs he gave up.
Awards should absolutely be given out based on the results on the field, so Eovaldi doesn’t deserve to win the Cy Young or make the All-MLB team. However, he absolutely deserved a nomination for his outstanding season, especially considering how many of his “earned” runs were due to factors out of his control.
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