Is Will Harris the least talked about elite player on your Houston Astros in 2019? An all-time performance does not often go unnoticed.
On a night when Astros‘ Gerrit Cole was breaking records, touching 100 mph, and striking out seemingly every hitter he faces. The man that sealed the deal came in never throwing harder than 93 mph, was efficient as always in throwing only nine pitches and did what he seemingly always does by getting out of a tight spot without allowing a run. Oh, and he is not even the teams closer, it’s Will Harris.
With the bases loaded in the 9th of a 3-1 game and one out, the Astros inserted Harris. He proceeded to strike out the next hitter and followed that up with a ground out to first base. Tight-roping is something Will Harris has become quite proficient at over the years. He has now spent five seasons with the Astros since being claimed off of waivers. And during his tenure, his ERA of 2.36 ranks third-best among all relievers in baseball, only behind Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman.
Success is something we should all be accustomed to now with Harris, yet it still seems he flies under most of our radars with more polarizing pitchers and harder throwers alongside him in the pen. But what Will Harris accomplished in 2019 is truly special, even with the lofty standards he has already set.
He’s finished the 2019 season with the second-lowest ERA (1.50) among all of baseball for pitchers that pitched at least 50 innings. But when you put his season’s performance into perspective with the fact that the league ERA was the highest it has been in thirteen seasons, you are able to appreciate what he did even more.
His league adjusted ERA of 309 (meaning 209% better than league average) is the 37th best performance in the history of baseball among pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched in a single season. Harris was topped by some of the games all-time best, several Cy Young award winners including John Smoltz, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Eric Gagne, and Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera.
Several other looming free agents are talked about far more often. But the importance of a guy that wants to pitch every single game and just does his job in a very blue-collar way, can not be understated. Will Harris has become one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball, and without a doubt will be called upon several more times this postseason to get the team out of a jam. And chances are he will be successful, like always. Here’s to hoping that trend will continue for years to come in an Astros uniform.