3. Speaking of King Felix, he’ll win his second Cy Young Award.
Last year, after the downer of not making the playoffs by measurements usually reserved for nuclear physics, everybody sipping a latte lost their marbles when Felix was robbed of his second career Cy Young. It should be noted that Corey Kluber was quite deserving, but Felix may have pitched his best season to date last year, so everybody in Seattle was a bit sore over that. I guess folks in Cleveland need something to cheer about, specially since Sports Illustrated has already put the hex on this year’s Indians by featuring them on the cover and picking them to win the World Series.
On Monday, King Felix will take the mound on Opening Day of his eleventh big league season, just two days shy of his 29th birthday. And while the baseball world outside of Seattle prostrates itself to Clayton Kershaw as a god, we here in Seattle have the honor of bowing to the King, a benevolent ruler just peaking in his prime. No projection model – ZiPS, Steamer, ESPN Fantasy – has Felix finishing 2015 with an ERA above 3.00. ESPN Fantasy is even so bold as to tabbing him for 18 wins and a 0.99 WHIP, all lusty numbers to imagine as tangible facts come September.
I’ve watched Feliz since he was a chubby 19 year-old rookie fireballer and I can irrefutably say he has become an absolute ace; a guy who should be a no-doubt Hall of Famer fifteen years or so from now (but may get overlooked since his win totals have been harmed by crappy Mariners run support through so much of his career). He has adapted to the inevitable down-tick in velocity – though not horribly drastic as he still hits 94 with his four-seamer – and has developed what is widely regarded as the best changeup in the majors. One last regal stat: The King has a career K:BB ratio of 3.41:1, but in his last three seasons, that has bulged to 4.64:1. Don’t expect that trend to reverse anytime soon.