Thanks, Jake Arrieta, There Will Never Be Another Pitcher Quite Like You

I will always remember you, Jake Arrieta. No one had a better stretch run in MLB history than you did during that 2015 second half. We may never see another pitcher do that again. I say that with no hyperbole, or even mild exaggeration, either.

Seriously, we really need to appreciate what Arrieta did as a Cub. As FanGraphs pointed out, Arrieta’s wOBA allowed after the All-Star Game in that Cy Young season was the best half of all time. Ever. No one was better.

Top 10 Season-Half wOBA Allowed
Pitcher Half Year wOBA
Jake Arrieta 2nd Half 2015 0.192
Ferdie Schupp 2nd Half 1916 0.192
Reb Russell 1st Half 1916 0.198
Clayton Kershaw 2nd Half 2015 0.202
Johan Santana 2nd Half 2004 0.202
Pedro Martinez 2nd Half 2000 0.203
Burt Hooton 2nd Half 1981 0.205
Greg Maddux 1st Half 1995 0.208
Sandy Koufax 2nd Half 1965 0.208
Joe Horlen 2nd Half 1964 0.211

Saying Arrieta was unique doesn’t even do him justice. He had a slider/cutter that broke pitch classification computers. That pitch was thrown faster than over 99 percent of right-handed sliders since 2007, and he was able to couple velocity with more horizontal movement than 68 percent of righties.

But, as we all know, Arrieta also had a wipeout curve that broke downward more than 98 percent of righties. And then he was able to dart sinkers on the outside corner of the plate at upwards to 99 MPH.

Oh, and he was able to do this with a release point that was, statistically speaking, more toward the third base side than pretty much any other over-the-top pitcher. Look through the eyes of a right-handed batter and notice just how far off Arrieta is to the hot corner.

Arrieta’s pitches aren’t all that made him memorable. He had impeccable posture, an intimidating presence, flat-brim hat, a lustrous beard that was the envy of everyone not named Paul Bunyan, and a no-BS mentality, all of which combined to make him seem larger than life on the mound. I mean, remember the way he squelched all trash talk on social media leading up to that wild 2015 Wild Card game in Pittsburgh?

Let me remind you:

Jake then came out during that cold night in Pittsburgh and treated the Pirates just as he had their fans, blasting his opening two fastballs around 98 mph. When I saw those first pitches, I already knew the Pirates had no shot. Sean Rodriguez slugging the Gatorade cooler in the dugout was the only hard contact of the evening by a Pirates hitter.

Don’t feel too bad for that orange jug, though, it survived to celebrate Arrieta’s 11-strikeout, complete game shutout.

There are so many achievements that could be considered Arrieta’s most memorable as a Cub. His no-hitter in Los Angeles; his other no-hitter in Cincy; the entire 2015 stretch run; winning the Cy Young; hitting a ball like 450 feet in Chase Field; finishing with a 90 wRC+ in 2016…as a hitter; winning two World Series games; a career 2.73 ERA and being part of a culture change in Chicago. It’s impossible to just pick one.

So, Jake, I speak on behalf of all most Cubs fans when I say, “Thank you.”

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