|Ian Snell||SP||4.28 ERA, 193 IP, 172 K, 71 BB||4.53 ERA, 169 IP, 140 K, 62 BB||3.76 ERA, 208 IP, 177 K, 68 BB|
Azibuck was easily the closest guesser, with a blindingly accurate prediction of a 3.77 ERA, 212 IP, 192 K, and 61 BB. Nobody else even guessed that Snell would have an ERA below 4. Nice work, Azibuck.
Snell exceeded expectations this year, just like he's done his entire career. For the first three months of the season, he had an All-Star-caliber year, posting a 2.93 ERA before the break. He then allowed 13 of his 22 homers in July and August, posting an ERA above six in each month, before pulling it together in September.
It's hard to say what Snell's performance this year means about what he'll do next year. The fact that he allowed so many homers in July in August is interesting. It could just be a fluke, but it could also be the result of some kind of mechanical tinkering that I couldn't detect. From watching, there didn't seem to be any reason why he started pithing so badly all of a sudden, except that he left more balls up in the zone. (Duh.) What's strange is that he had no problem getting the ball into the zone, with only 7 walks in 29 innings in July and 12 in 37.1 innings in August. In September, he allowed 17 walks, but he somehow posted a 1.64 ERA and only allowed one homer. Maybe this was some kind of effort on his part to keep the ball low in the zone; I'm not sure.
Then again, every season is full of little adjustments and compensations and overcompensations, and what's really important is that Snell made a big step forward this year. He dramatically improved his gopherball problems, allowing seven fewer homers than in 2006 despite pitching 22 more innings, reduced his walk rate, and lowered his ERA by a full run.
He may give back some of that improvement next year, but given Snell's history, I wouldn't bet on it. And there's still room for him to get even better: lefties hit .284/.352/.447 off him.