The wait is over: on Monday night, Cliff Lee agreed to a five-year contract with the Yankees Rangers Phillies. There’s good reason Lee was so highly coveted this offseason, as his 2010 season was one of the most masterful seasons in baseball history. In 212 innings, Lee struck out 185 batters while unintentionally walking just 18. From the Bill James Handbook 2011:

American League SO/BB Ratio Leaderboard (2010)
Pitcher SO/BB
Cliff Lee 10.28
Jered Weaver 4.31
Shaun Marcum 3.84
James Shields 3.67
Francisco Liriano 3.47

Not only was Lee’s 10.28 ratio miles ahead of every other pitcher in baseball last year, but that figure also rates as the second-best season in baseball history.

Best Single Season SO/BB Ratio
Pitcher Season Strikeouts Walks Ratio
Bret Saberhagen 1994 143 13 11.0
Cliff Lee 2010 185 18 10.3
Curt Schilling 2002 316 33 9.6
Pedro Martinez 2000 284 32 8.9
Greg Maddux 1997 177 20 8.8

Note: since 1900, minimum one inning pitched per team game

Additionally, Cliff Lee joins a Phillies’ rotation which already features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, making the Phillies the popular favorites in the National League. Here are our projections for the Philly aces from the 2011 Handbook:

Phillies’ Pitcher Projections for 2011
Pitcher ERA Wins Losses Innings Walks Strikeouts
Roy Halladay 3.16 18 9 245 38 190
Roy Oswalt 3.38 16 9 221 52 176
Cole Hamels 3.45 15 9 219 58 209
Cliff Lee 3.50 14 10 216 49 169

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail