Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu: A Bargain Priced Ace

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu has been nothing short of phenomenal this year. He hasn’t just been the best in the Dodgers rotation or even the National League. He has arguably been the best pitcher in all of baseball and the Dodgers got him for a bargain. 

Career and Current Stats

When the Dodgers extended the qualifying offer to him $17.9M didn’t seem like a steal. Sure he was coming off one of his best seasons of his Dodgers career, but due to injuries, he has been difficult to assess. Since his rookie 2013 season he has either missed extensive time or had his seasons shortened by injuries. Still, between the injuries his overall performance has been good and pretty consistent. Ryu has career 2.96 ERA, 1.160 WHIP, and 2 BB/9. Additionally, he closed his 2018 season very strong going 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA, 85 strike outs, and just 15 walks in 15 starts. Still, $17.9M is a pretty high price tag for an injury prone starting pitcher heading into his age 32 season. 

Oct 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) reacts after striking out Atlanta Braves Ender Inciarte during the 2018 NLDS series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Top-Tier Pitching

Since accepting the qualifying offer, Hyun-Jin Ryu has proved he has a lot left in that 32 year old tank of his.  Currently, his 9 Wins, 1.35 ERA, 3.3 WAR for Pitchers, 0.775 Walks/Hits per Inning (WHIP), and 0.563 Walks per 9 Innings (BB/9) leads all National League pitchers. Furthermore, he leads all of baseball with that ERA and BB/9, he ties for most Wins, places 2nd in WHIP, and 3rd in WAR for Pitchers. The only pitcher consistently performing as well is none other than Justin Verlander, who happens to be having a career year as well.

Unfortunately, the way fans loves the long ball in hitting, they love the strike out in pitching. As such, being a finesse pitcher, Ryu’s dominance has not gotten the recognition it deserves. However, he has been a successful blast from the past, utilizing Greg Maddux-style precision with his location and mixing his pitches well. He has twice flirted with a no-hitter until the 6th inning and rarely walks anyone. While he’s not over powering by any means, he is top-tier.

$17.9M Bargain

Although Hyun-Jin Ryu is pitching at the utmost elite level, his qualifying offer makes him the just 19th highest paid starting pitcher and 23rd highest of all pitchers. The top 2 paid pitchers this year are Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. They are making a healthy $38.3M and $37.4M this season and frankly, Ryu is pitching better than them. If the Nationals are paying Strasburg $38.3M and Scherzer $37.4M this season for their skill set, the Dodgers are getting a nearly 50% discount for Ryu’s. Beyond that, there are still 17 other elite starters that, with the exception of Verlander, that aren’t pitching as well, but are being paid higher!

QO a Win-Win

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With Hyun-Jin Ryu’s injury-prone history he was smart to take the Dodgers’ qualifying offer and likewise, the Dodgers were smart to give it.  So far its has been a win-win situation. The Dodgers got an elite level pitcher for a steal of a deal and Ryu is getting the chance to audition for a larger payday next year.

While the Dodgers front office typically shops the bargain bin or plucks home grown goods, in this era of power baseball, location specialists like Ryu can reign.

The Dodgers should extend him.

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  1. I just hope he doesn’t get injured cos it would be a shame.I really enjoy watching him.Hes like a artist painting the corners.They better lock him up.I was shocked he took the QO this year.Its a absolute joy watching our SP.Its too bad u can’t go back and get Verlander instead of Yu Suck Darvish.Can u imagine him w us now????That was IMO the hardest trade to consider that Friedmans done.They really remind me of only one group I can think where all the guys were top shelf recently.Those ATL teams of the 90s.Were Damn close to em IMO.I think there’s no debate to Ryu being the best pitcher right now.I think he’s easily looking at 25-30 Mill a year and 4to 5 years.I see a lot of guys throwing hard as they can.Ryu is a pitcher not a thrower.Does his fast ball even hit 93????