Leading the Marlins’ rotation once again, Sandy Alcántara had perhaps his strongest year yet despite what his win-loss record reads. Staying healthy all season long, Alcántara firmly established himself as the team’s ace.
By The Numbers
Alcántara’s Marlins teammates regularly failed to provide him with run support, the main reason why he was charged with a loss 15 times in his 33 starts. The average of 3.1 runs scored per game when he pitched was second-worst in the majors to Cardinals/Twins right-hander John Gant (3.0 RS/GS) among those with at least 20 starts. The Marlins scored three or fewer runs in 22 of Alcántara’s 33 outings. Not even Sandy Koufax could have overcome that!
Outside of that, Sandy set career-highs for wins (9), starts (33), innings (205.2), strikeouts (201), and quality starts (23, the third-highest mark in MLB). Also, he had the best FIP (3.42), WHIP (1.075), BB/9 (2.2), and K/9 (8.8) of his career. The 26-year-old righty became the first Marlins pitcher with at least 200 innings and 200 K’s in the same season since 2002.
Opponents hit for a .223 batting average off Alcántara, the 12th-lowest mark among qualified National League starters. As it if wasn’t enough, the Dominican hurler put up the highest ground ball rate of his career (53.8%) as well as the highest chase percentage for him (33.8%, which is considerably better than the 28.1% from 2020).
Alcántara faced great adversity in July when his mother passed away and he went on the bereavement list. As effective as he was before that tragic news (3.23 ERA/3.55 FIP), he was even better upon returning to the rotation (3.14 ERA/3.23 FIP).
An improved changeup was critical to Alcantara’s season. He more than doubled his usage of it since 2020 (from 10.3% to 23.5%), missing plenty of bats with in (67 strikeouts) and getting soft contact (86.4 MPH average exit velocity). This 2021 campaign also continued a trend of him gradually increasing his fastball velocity.
- 2018: 95.3 MPH sinker | 95.5 MPH fastball
- 2019: 95.3 MPH sinker | 95.6 MPH fastball
- 2020: 96.2 MPH sinker | 96.9 MPH fastball
- 2021: 97.6 MPH sinker | 98.1 MPH fastball
That’s another factor that may have contributed to his offspeed stuff becoming more difficult for opponents to figure out.
Naaaaaasty slider by Sandy Alcantara to get his 200th strikeout of the season pic.twitter.com/5xLJBN8wt5— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) October 2, 2021
Will Sandy Alcántara Be Back?
If the Marlins are planning to let some people go this offseason, Sandy Alcántara won’t be one of them. In fact, there have been conversations about an eventual contract extension that would hopefully keep Alcántara as a Marlin through his prime years. He is irreplaceable on the roster as this team seeks to return to contention.
Marlins extension candidate Sandy Alcantara, speaking on the TV broadcast:— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) October 2, 2021
"I love the fans, I love the city, and my family feels happy to be here."
After receiving a $630k salary in 2021, both parties will hopefully reach an agreement to avoid going to an arbitration hearing. He is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make approximately $4.5 million in 2022.
Regardless of how well Alcántara does individually, the Marlins need to assemble a deeper, more patient and powerful lineup this offseason to put pitchers like him in a position to win consistently.