Cubs’ Jake Arrieta’s 2015 voted one of MLB’s most iconic seasons since 2000

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta was virtually unstoppable in 2015. So much so, that an ESPN writer has designated that season as one of the 21 most iconic since the turn of the century.

Since the turn of the century, thousands of men have laced up the spikes, grabbed their gloves, and played at the MLB level.

To earn the designation of having one of the 21-most iconic seasons this century, you must be among the elite of the elite.

Mike Trout, Barry Bonds, Clayton Kershaw, Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and many other all-time greats occupy the list. Amid all these great seasons, there’s one Cubs season that made the list.

Over at ESPN, David Schoenfield took a stab at sorting through all the clutter to come up with the 21 most iconic seasons since the turn of the century. He only chooses a player once; otherwise, the list would probably be supersaturated with Barry Bonds and Mike Trout seasons.

Jake Arrieta was just a couple seasons removed from an unsightly 6.44 ERA in 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles (actually the second-worst ERA in baseball among starters with at least 100 innings pitched that season).

The following season, the same story in five starts with Baltimore—-a miserable 7.23 ERA in five starts before a potentially career-saving trade that sent him to the Cubs. In 2014, he posted a 2.53 ERA and somehow, the next season, he was even better.

Perhaps the craziest part of Arrieta’s 2015 season, was that he wasn’t even an All-Star. Of course, this was probably a snub job as Arrieta had a 2.66 ERA and 10 wins in 15 tries before the All-Star break (that ERA was 14th-best in the MLB at that point).

Schoenfield summarizes Arrieta’s final 20 starts of his season succinctly (includes some starts prior to the All-Star Break).

"Arrieta was 6-5 in mid-June, but then he began an extended run of dominance that matched the best in history. Over his final 20 starts, he went 16-1 with a 0.86 ERA in 147 innings, including a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium. He allowed just two home runs over that stretch and held batters to a .150/.200/.210 line. This was peak Pedro with an exclamation point. He joined Bob Gibson as the second pitcher in 100 years to go 8-0 with a sub-0.50 ERA over eight starts."

Some more craziness from Arrieta’s last 20 starts of the season:

  • He gave up three or more runs once (July 25 in a 5-0 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies)
  • Four complete games; three of them were complete-game shutouts.
  • He threw over 100 pitches in 15 of those 20 outings; in all six starts in August, he threw over 100 pitches; the most pitches he threw in a single outing was on September 22 in a 4-0 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • He threw at least six innings in every one of those starts.
  • In 13 of the 20 starts (65 percent), he surrendered four or fewer hits.

Arrieta’s dominance extended to the National League Wild Card Game. He pitched a complete-game shutout in a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates before unraveling a bit in giving up five runs apiece in his next two postseason starts.

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The bearded righty won the Cy Young Award that season, the first time a Cub has won the award since Greg Maddux did it in 1992.

Arrieta was impressive in his final two seasons with Cubs, although he wasn’t able to quite reciprocate that special 2015. In 2018, he signed with the Phillies relinquishing the Cubbie blue and saying goodbye to the team and fans that got a front-row seat to his career resurgence.

Cubs fans will always remember him for helping them win the World Series in 2016. But they will also always remember 2015, the season where every Jake Arrieta became must-watch television.