Handicapping the AL Cy Young Race

We like to use WAR and win shares around here, but as we will see there are some issues when we use those statistics to judge pitchers on individual seasons. For instance, Mike Minor leads the league in WAR, but likely won’t even finish in the top five in the Cy Young voting. You would be hard pressed to find any expert that would rank him there either.

So, when ranking the top five guys we probably want to use some other numbers to judge each pitcher. In this case, we will stick to the traditional numbers and go from there. In this case, we are focused on the fantasy baseball standards (wins, ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP) in addition to quality starts and innings.

Favorite: Justin Verlander– Houston Astros

Record: 16-5

ERA: 2.70

Strikeouts: 243

WHIP: 0.804

INN: 184.0

Quality Starts: 21

It hardly seems fair, but he was ejected before he could earn a quality start last night. He could get passed in that category by his own teammate. He also technically leads the league in ERA and strikeouts but those could go by the wayside as well. He also leads the major contenders in wins.

Primary Challenger: Gerrit Cole– Houston Astros

Record: 15-5

ERA: 2.75

SO: 238

WHIP: 0.953

INN: 163.2

Quality Starts: 21

Cole goes tonight, so he could equal Verlander’s won-loss record and surpass him in strikeouts and quality starts. He will need to shut them out to pass him in ERA, but he did throw seven scoreless innings in his last outing. If the award is based purely on what you have done in the second half then he is the winner. If it is overall then it is very very close.

Other Challengers: Charlie Morton–Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 13-6

ERA: 3.11

SO: 201

WHIP: 1.091

INN: 165.0

Quality Starts: 15

It’s always interesting how we can lose perspective. Last night was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel between Verlander and Morton. Instead it was a blowout. However, in the grand scheme of things the numbers haven’t changed much. Morton is still comfortably in third even if some might perceive other pitchers passing him up.

Lucas Giolito–Chicago White Sox

Record: 14-6

ERA: 3.20

SO: 194

WHIP: 1.095

INN: 151.2

Quality Starts: 15

Quality starts is a Scott Boras statistic. It was designed to make Kevin Brown look good one season when he got horrible run support. While the notion of giving into Boras might be detestable, the statistic actually has some value. If you can pitch six or more innings and keep your team in the game you have value whether you win, lose, or get a no decision. As a younger pitcher, the White Sox aren’t letting Giolito go as deep into games as some of the other veteran hurlers.

Shane Bieber–Cleveland Indians

Record: 12-6

ERA: 3.23

SO: 215

WHIP: 1.010

INN: 175.1

Quality Starts: 20

I might be inclined to put Bieber in third place because of all of the numbers. He has more strikeouts and a better WHIP than Morton. He also has more quality starts and innings. The only thing he doesn’t have is the sparkling win total. A pitcher’s job is to keep the other team from scoring runs. Let’s not get confused with some kind Jack Morris’ type argument about “knowing how to win games.”

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: