The AL Cy Young award goes to the best pitcher in the American League. This award has normally been awarded to the pitcher with the most wins at the end of the season, and that’s dumb because pitcher wins have more to do with a team’s skill level. Stats that do help determine a pitchers true talent level, and therefore whether or not they are worthy of winning the Cy Young award, are called sabermetrics.
Using sabermetric stats, we are going to create a list of five candidates and break down each of those candidates case for winning the award. After having examined each candidates case, we will pick a winner of the 2014 AL Cy Young award.
Felix Hernandez, SP Seattle Mariners: King Felix Hernandez was running away with this award at the beginning of September, thanks to a season that was Pedro Martinez like. Unfortunately Felix Hernandez has regressed to more Felix like numbers. He is striking out 9.25 batters per nine innings, walking 1.68 batters per nine, and is leaving 78.9% of base runners stranded on the bases. Hernandez’s pitchers slash line (ERA/FIP/xFIP) is an incredibly low 2.14/2.59/2.57, and shows how good he is at preventing runs from scoring.
Corey Kluber, SP Cleveland Indians: Corey Kluber has emerged as a serious candidate for the AL Cy Young award. His pitching is a major reason that the Indians are still in the middle of the playoff race. The Indians ace is striking out 10 batters every nine innings and only walking 1.97 batters every nine. He is biggest “weakness” is his 2.42 ERA — a terrible stat to evaluate pitchers by — but his peripherals (FIP 2.47 and xFIP 2.65) are entirely inline with his ERA.
Jon Lester, SP Boston Red Sox/Oakland Athletics: John Lester was pitching for the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox when the season started, on July 31st he was traded to the Oakland Athletics. The trade hasn’t impacted his performance at all. Lester has struck out 9.01 batters and walked 1.68 batters every nine innings. The lack of walks he has given up has prevent the opposing teams from scoring runs; his slash line is 2.45/2.81/3.09.
Chris Sale, SP Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale has been one of the few bright spots for the White Sox in 2014. He has pitched lights out, on a not very good team, during his time in Chicago. The White Sox’s ace is at, or near, the top of the league in run prevention; his slash line is 2.20/2.59/2.83. His numbers are more impressive because of the ball park he plays in, US Cellular Field is a notorious hitters park.
Max Scherzer, SP Detroit Tigers: Max Scherzer has been a very good pitcher for many years, he was just overshadowed by the dominate force that is Justin Verlander. This season, Verlander has struggled and Scherzer has been an dominate force on the diamond. His K/9 is an insanely high 10.61, and his BB/9 is impressive at 2.75. While Scherzer hasn’t been as good at run prevention as the other candidates — his slash line is 3.26/2.88/3.10 — he has been really good at eating innings and getting opposing hitters out.
The winner of the 2014 AL Cy Young award is probably going to be Corey Kluber. Cleveland’s ace has emerged out of no where this season, and been worth 6.5 wins this season (that’s .7 more wins than Hernandez). Kluber’s consistency throughout the season, while Hernandez has regressed, is the big difference between the two pitchers.