#7: Freddy Garcia: 1999: w/5.4 WAR
Freddy came over in the Randy Johnson trade during the 1998 season at the trade deadline. It wouldn’t take long before fans would fall in love with the youngster. His rookie season in 1999 was also his best and is good proof that sometimes you need to look a bit beyond the basic numbers.
Even though he had a 4.07 ERA and a 4.10 FIP, Freddy had some awful luck on BABIP, with a .313 mark against him. The league knew he was good as well, as he would receive votes not only for Rookie of the Year but in the Cy Young voting as well. He lost out on the Rookie of the Year award to Carlos Beltran and would finish 9th in Cy Young voting.
This is a great example of remembering that taking a look at the league as a whole is important. 1999 was the height of PEDs and run-scoring. Teams were scoring 5.08 per game with a slash line of .271/.345/.434. So although a 4.07 ERA might not sound great, that meant Freddy was holding opponents to a full run less per game whenever he took the mound.
Still, it’s hard to think that this year was better than 2001 when he led the league in innings, ERA, HR/9 (just 0.6/9). I’m only ranking the seasons at 5.0 or higher… but It might be worth fudging the rule and making a solid case that 2001 was actually the best year of Garcia’s career, and deserves a spot on the list.