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German Márquez has been having a sneaky good 2018 season

The 23-year-old righty is having the best season of his career, but has been flying under the radar all season

Before the 2018 season started, Jon Gray was the Rockies pitcher most expected to carry the staff. As the season progressed it looked more and more like Kyle Freeland assumed that role. Both have done their part, but there is one guy who often gets brushed over—German Márquez.

It can be somewhat easy to overlook Márquez; he’s a quiet guy, and his season didn’t really take off until the second half. However, since the All-Star Break he, like Kyle Freeland, has been putting up numbers reminiscent of Ubaldo Jimenez’ remarkable 2010 campaign. I discussed Kyle Freeland’s season so far here, and Kyle Newman of the Denver Post documented the journey of both young pitchers here. This article will take a look at German Márquez’ season as a standalone journey.

2017 Campaign

German Márquez’ breakout 2018 season shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to Rockies fans. Even in 2017 he had a pretty solid year, to the point where he finished fifth in Rookie of the Year honors behind Cody Bellinger, Paul DeJong, Josh Bell, Rhys Hoskins — and in front of Kyle Freeland (7th). In 2018, he has taken the success of 2017 and pushed himself even further. His 3.7 fWAR — which emphasizes his strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed — leads the team in 2018. Here are his 2017 and 2018 stats side-by-side:

German Márquez, 2017 and 2018

Stat 2017 2018*
Stat 2017 2018*
Games Started 29 29
ERA 4.39 3.94
WHIP 1.377 1.232
Opponent Slash .274/.332/.473 .243/.303/.398
BAbip 0.32 0.311
HR 25 21
BB 49 53
SO 147 195
SO/9 8.2 10.2
bWAR 3.2 4.1
fWAR 2.4 3.7

Márquez is improving on an already strong foundation. His 4.39 ERA in 2017 ranked third on the Rockies staff, behind Freeland and Gray, but he lead the staff in strikeouts. However, he also lead in run categories (runs, earned runs, and home runs). In 2018, he currently ranks second in ERA and once again leads in strikeouts. In run categories, he currently ranks second in runs, third in earned runs, and third in home runs. More on that below.

2018 Pitching Stats

One of the big reasons that Márquez has managed to fly under the radar for so long is because his season didn’t start off very well. Before the All-Star Break in mid-July, the 23-year-old right hander started 19 games. In those 19 games, the team went 10-9. Since the break, he has started ten games in which the team has gone 7-3.

German Márquez splits by half

Stat First Half Second Half Total
Stat First Half Second Half Total
Games Started 19 10 29
ERA 4.83 2.61 3.94
WHIP 1.388 0.995 1.232
Opponent Slash .264/.328/.448 .209/.261/.317 .243/.303/.398
BAbip 0.313 0.306 0.311
HR 17 4 21
BB 37 16 53
SO 106 89 195
SO/9 9.3 11.7 10.2

The most notable stat is Márquez’ 195 strikeouts. As Newman indicated, he is on pace to break Ubaldo Jimenez’ record of 214. He has three starts left to do it. If he keeps averaging ten strikeouts per nine innings, he should break that by the end of the season. Two of those starts will likely be on the road in San Francisco and Arizona, and the other is at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. Now, unlike Freeland, Márquez is a bit of a victim of the “Coors Field effect” on pitchers. His stats are much more favorable to road pitching in most cases.

German Márquez home/road splits

Stat Home Away Total
Stat Home Away Total
Games Started 15 14 29
ERA 5.14 2.83 3.94
WHIP 1.543 0.944 1.232
Opponent Slash .295/.355/.474 .189/.249/.320 .243/.303/.398
BAbip 0.38 0.241 0.311
HR 13 8 21
BB 30 23 53
SO 99 96 195
SO/9 10.8 9.7 10.2

Most notably, his ERA, WHIP, opponent slash line, and BAbip are much more favorable anywhere but at Coors Field. However, many of his other stats don’t have as wide of a gap. For instance, his strikeout and walk numbers are close together. He also has almost one more strikeout per nine at home than on the road. Luckily, everything has averaged out for Márquez to put up some impressive numbers all around.

On top of everything he’s done on the mound, Márquez has helped himself quite a bit at the plate as well. Throughout the course of this season, he is slashing .296/.296/.352 with one home run, five RBI, and nine strikeouts in 57 plate appearances. That currently leads all National League pitchers, according to FanGraphs. With that in mind, he certainly is making a case to win a Silver Slugger as a pitcher. If he does, he will be the first Rockies pitcher to win the award since Mike Hampton won in 2002.

But that would just be the cherry on top. German Márquez has been having a sneaky good season for the Rockies in 2018. While the sports world has focused on Jon Gray or Kyle Freeland as a cornerstone of the rotation, many of them have overlooked Márquez. To be fair, he did have a shaky start to the year but has really turned up the jets since the All-Star Break. In 2018, German Márquez has been pivotal to the pennant race that the Rockies find themselves in the middle of and has certainly put himself on the map going into 2019, both on the mound at the plate. If he keeps up the pace with his teammates, this Rockies rotation will be something to watch for years to come.