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In his third season in the major leagues, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell made incredible strides. The 25-year-old made his first All-Star team and led the American League in wins and earned run average after posting a 21-5 record and a 1.89 ERA.
Snell’s great season has pushed him towards another major milestone: He’s one of the finalists for the American League Cy Young, facing off against Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros and Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians. Both players have previously won Cy Young awards, while Snell is nominated for the first time at just 25 years old. (UPDATE: Snell has won the American League Cy Young award for 2018. Read more here on the win.)
Snell’s strong play helped the Tampa Bay Rays stay in the wild card race until the end of the season, despite being predicted by most in the baseball world to finish near the bottom of the American League East. The Rays finished as the first team left out of the postseason, something that Snell is using to motivate him into next year.
“It sucks looking back and knowing we had such a slow start, and that hurt us,” Snell told Muscle & Fitness. “But knowing we had that slow start and still won 90 games, that shows how locked in this team was. We really had a shot to make the playoffs. There’s a lot of mixed emotions missing the playoffs, and now I’m looking forward to what I’m going to do this offseason to be better. It’s going to push us into this offseason all the way to spring to become that much better, because we know we can compete in the AL East.”
Snell took some time to speak with us about his breakout performance this season, his favorite start of the year, and how it feels to be the first player named “Blake” in MLB history to win 20 games. In the video, Snell also talks about:
The AL Cy Young award was announced on November 14.