Just how good was Alexander in 2017?
To further accentuate the great season Alexander had, advanced analytics loved him. The stat I love to focus on here is gmLI — or game-entering Leverage Index. It measures how intense the situations are when a reliever enters the game. Alexander’s gmLI in 2017 was 1.60, which is considerably higher than the league average of 1.00. This means that, on average, the Royals used him in higher leverage situations than normal. So if it seems like he was extremely reliable, that is because he was.
In fact, out of all pitchers in the MLB who had a gmLI at or above 1.60, are still on their rookie contract and pitched more than 60 innings, only one had a lower ERA than Alexander. That distinction is held by Corey Knebel, who notched 39 saves for the Milwaukee Brewers and was elected an All-Star.
Another stat that will make your eyes pop is Alexander’s ground-ball percentage. This number is simply the percentage of all balls put in play that are hit on the ground. Out of everyone who pitched a mere two innings or more, he led the majors with a 73.8 percent ground-ball rate. This translates well to inducing double plays, which seems to be a common occurrence for him. In other words, Alexander posed a value nearly unmatched by any other reliever in 2017.
If a team needs someone, especially a lefty, to come out of the bullpen and get you out of danger, this could be one of the best options. These statistics, coupled with several years of team control, display why teams close to the top of the league may want to trade for a guy like Alexander.