Texas Rangers: Statistical proof that Jose Leclerc is the best reliever in MLB
By Travis Koch
The Texas Rangers do have something to brag about from the 2018 season. They have the best relief pitcher in Major League Baseball.
Guess what Jose Leclerc‘s ERA is since taking over as the Texas Rangers closer at the start of August. If 0.00 came to mind, you are correct! In fact, the last time he allowed a run was July 25th vs. the Oakland Athletics.
Jose Leclerc’s dominance is out of this world. After last night’s shutout 9th inning, his season ERA is down to a microscopic 1.68. No relief pitcher in the American League has tossed more innings than Leclerc (53.2) with a lower ERA. The only reliever in Major League Baseball with a lower ERA in more innings is Milwaukee’s Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress has a 1.37 ERA in 72.1 innings; however, he has allowed 6 hits/9 innings to Leclerc’s 3.6/9, has a WHIP of 1.04 compared to Leclerc’s 0.88, and has blown 5 saves compared to Leclerc’s 4.
The only MLB reliever with a lower BAA (Batting Average Against) than Leclerc is Milwaukee’s Josh Hader. Hader has held opponents to a .122 batting average; Leclerc has held opposing hitters to a .129 batting average.
Since August 4th, Jose Leclerc has pitched 14 innings. Over that span, opposing hitters are 2-for-50 against him. That calculates to a, wait for it, remarkable .040 batting average! 9 of those 14 innings have been 3 up/3 downs and 11 out of the 14 innings have resulted in at least two strikeouts for the talented 24-year-old.
For continued amazement, consider Leclerc’s 16.2 strikeouts per nine innings in August. And to this point in September, his K/9 rate is 20.3.
Jose Leclerc’s numbers are insane across the board. We could go on and on, highlighting all sorts of numbers, both traditional and sabermetric. However, I have a feeling you get the point by now. All stats indicate that the Texas Rangers closer is THE top relief pitcher in all of Major League Baseball.
The eye test proves the same. Leclerc’s changeup may very well be the most unhittable pitch in MLB. His changeup dives one way or the other and constantly leaves opposing hitters shaking their heads as they walk back to the dugout. Plus, in his shortened workload, Leclerc is lighting up the radar gun, consistently tossing his fastball at 97 mph+.
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Thanks goodness the Texas Rangers didn’t trade him! Keone Kela was certainly dominant as the previous closer, but it speaks volumes when a talent like Leclerc can step in and basically nullify Kela’s departure.
The Rangers have team control over Jose Leclerc through the 2022 season. Thus, they without a doubt have their closer of the future. With that said, there is always the possibility that the rebuilding ball club could swap Leclerc for a big piece down the road. Texas will have plenty of opportunities to do so. As for now, the Texas Rangers clearly have an unmatched weapon out of the bullpen.
The season may be disappointing as a whole, but at least fans can hang their hat on something. We are witnessing a truly dominant season from Jose Leclerc.