AL Cy Young Race 2013

Hello everyone! Since I finally have time to write I will be providing a brief analysis and prediction of the major awards in Major League Baseball.

The awards I will cover are the Cy Young and MVP races. Keep in mind that the player I chose to win these may not necessarily be my favorite player or even a player I actually like.

My main criteria for choosing my picks were several statistics and considering how the voters would respond to certain biases. Remember, these are guys that can be influenced by the number of wins a pitcher has or by how many HRs a batter has. This can cause them to overlook key points such as whether certain pitchers had run support or whether the batter generated a lot of runs.

But let’s stop talking about criteria and jump into the AL Cy Young race:

 

This is one of those races that has a clear winner yet there are several contenders keeping up with the favorite.

The favorite I refer to is Detroit’s Max Scherzer. Although the only stats he is actually ahead on are wins and WHIP, he is near the top of most of the major stats such as K/BB ratio and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that his team is currently in the lead of their division.

As I’ve said, wins aren’t the most important thing in determining the worth of a pitcher, but Scherzer has EARNED his nineteen wins. His BABIP is at an impressive .244 and his K/BB ratio is the second highest in the league at 9.88, behind only Yu Darvish.

This combined with his 2.86 FIP, shows that Scherzer hasn’t really had to rely on the field to bail him out or make plays for him (even though the Tigers offense has been in top form this year). His stuff has just been great. His fastball and slider in particular have been just clean this year.

But, there are some pitchers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Scherzer.

One such man is Seattle’s very own “King” Felix Hernandez. In 2010, Hernandez proved that you can win the Cy Young without a lot of wins or run support, so his 12 wins shouldn’t really affect the decision of the voters.

The “King” has an ERA of 3.01, a good but not great number. However, what is impressive is his FIP which currently sits at 2.75. Only Anibal Sanchez (A man I considered for this post but who will likely be overshadowed by his teammate Scherzer.) is ahead of Hernandez at 2.70 FIP.

Among other stats, his 9.26 K/BB ratio, 200 SO, and 5.2 WAR gives Hernandez a strong case for a second award. He is definitely my sentimental pick. However, voters really like win-loss records for some reason. Plus, keep in mind that when Hernandez won the award in 2010 it was only the second time a starting pitcher with 13 wins or less had won (Fernando Valenzuela  is the other….and Eric Gagne). It is doubtful to me that the Writers Association will give Felix the benefit of taking a close look at the sabermetric stats. Also, the voters have been known to favor players in teams that are at least in playoff contention. Unless Oakland and Texas literally explode, the Mariner’s aren’t making it this year. Hence, Hernandez may get a few 1st place votes, but likely won’t get enough to overtake the top spot.

A pitcher who arguably could beat both Scherzer and Hernandez is Texas’ Yu Darvish. He is the strikeout king right now with 240.

His ERA is at a decent 2.91 and his FIP (3.22) shows that he has had some run support from the likes of Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Both Scherzer and Hernandez have a lower FIP than Darvish and this combined with Darvish being behind these guys in other key stats such as WAR and BABIP may hurt his case.

Don’t get me wrong, Darvish has pitched brilliantly this year. It’s just that Scherzer and Hernandez have been just a little bit better overall. However, he may end up earning the award if the voters split their first place votes on Hernandez and Scherzer.

So, my pick for the AL Cy Young Award is Max Scherzer but I’ll be crossing my fingers for Hernandez. Neither of these guys can slow down because the race is so close. Even one bad start could ultimately be the difference. This will be an interesting race to follow.

Thank you for reading. Please leave comments below if you want to talk baseball with me or have suggestions for improvement. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post so please point out my mistakes! I will have my analysis of the National League Cy Young race within two days.

 

Honorable mentions: Anibal Sanchez, Bartolo Colon, Hisashi Iwakuma, Chris Sale, Hiroki Kuroda, Clay Buchholz.

 

 

 

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