No. 2: Drew Steckenrider – 0.6 WAR
This is the selection that is likely to draw the most criticism. How can a reliever be the number two player on the list? How can someone who produced a sub-one WAR finish ahead of a franchise cornerstone? Very fair questions.
Drew Steckenrider was downright dominant in his debut season. Not only did he manage to overpower hitters on a nightly basis, but he sustained his success over all 37 appearances. A few duds aside, his 177+ ERA isn’t a typo.
Steckenrider managed separate streaks of eight appearances and nine appearances without allowing an earned run. After the team traded away AJ Ramos, Steckenrider staked his claim to the closer role.
Kyle Barraclough remains the incumbent for the job, but if he falters, expect a quick hook. Relievers don’t get as many opportunities to rack up WAR and WAA like everyday players and starters do.
With that in mind, consider that Steckenrider finished with 0.3 WAA, good for third of any pitcher on the team. Barraclough finished with 0.4, second on the team. Barraclough, however, pitched 66-ininings to Steckenrider’s 34.2.
Steckenrider fits the mold of the new bullpen power arm. Fortunately for the Marlins, there are several others that fit the mold in their stable as well. With the way teams are using relievers now, their contribution has never been more important.
Steckenrider headlines the future of a potentially dominant group of young bullpen pitchers. He showed what he can do in his first taste of Major League action, and it’s scary good..