SF Giants: How does Logan Webb become an ace?

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game Five
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game Five / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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Logan Webb
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game One / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

How did SF Giants righty Logan Webb become an ace?

Before I even started writing this, I wanted to see where Webb projects heading into the season. I looked at two different websites, FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference, to get an idea of where they think Webb will do in 2022.

FanGraphs Logan Webb projection: 12-10, 3.38 ERA, 9.03 K/9.
Baseball-Reference: 10-6, 3.73 ERA, 9.20 K/9.

Looking purely at the projections, Baseball-Reference certainly is amongst the belief that Webb will hard regress in 2022. Considering his struggles in '19 and '20, it's not out of the question that Webb will, in fact, regress. This also does not necessarily mean they thought the 2021 season was flukey, but making an inference based on their projection, they believe Webb's talent, progression, and skill is all still raw, meaning he has room to grow. Although, they think he will strike out nearly 10 batters per nine.

Not to mention, by the way, that a 3.73 ERA is not even that bad considering how much the offense sways in today's game over pitching.

FanGraph's projection certainly favors Webb in the ERA department, although they believe Webb won't strike out *as many* batters as Baseball-Reference does.

One final thing, I decided to look at strikeouts per nine in more detail. I was curious: What is the best K/9 in a single season in a player's third year? For this, of course, they needed to be a starting pitcher, so the benchmark is a minimum of 150 innings pitched. Here is what I found (this is since 2010):

Highest K/9 in SP third year, min. 150 IP. since 2010

1. Dylan Cease: 12.28 (2021)
2. Robbie Ray: 11.25 (2016)
3. Stephen Strasburg: 11.13 (2012)
4. Blake Snell: 11.01 (2018)
5. Luis Severino: 10.71 (2017)

Obviously, these are higher than the projections for Webb. However, what I did find was that there were some interesting names that fell into the same numbers at the projections. Using the same benchmarks as before, Chris Sale had a 9.0 K/9 in his third season, which is the FanGraphs projection, and Clayton Kershaw and Mike Clevinger had a 9.3 K/9 in their third season, which was the Baseball-Reference projection. Which, I think if you were to tell Giants fans, or even the front office, that Webb would develop into a Clevinger, or even a Sale, and even a Kershaw, they would take that every time.

Ultimately, Webb has a lot of pressure to perform at a high clip in 2022, especially after his postseason performances against the Dodgers. It will be fun to watch from afar to see if he can match, or even succeed these expectations.