AL Cy Young Wrap-Up
The Cy Young ballot is unusual among baseball awards. You only get to vote for three players. The MVP ballot and the Hall of Fame ballot both run 10 players deep, but for some reason the Cy Young is limited to three. I think five pitchers have a legitimate shot to be part of that 3 on the AL side: Zack Greinke, CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, and Mariano Rivera. Scott Feldman had a chance, but his last start killed his ERA and allowed Hernandez to pass him for the league-lead in winning percentage and tie for second in the league in wins. He should no longer get a vote.
Sabathia leads the league in wins, but I think he is the weakest candidate of the five. That does not mean that he won’t win the award in November, but he should not. Sabathia’s ERA is slightly lower than Verlander’s, who has the highest of the five candidates listed above, however he has done it with 70 less strikeouts for a notably superior team. Verlander leads the league K/9 and is second in FIP, the stat introduced yesterday. He is hurt by playing in front of a poor fielding team in Detroit. Greinke leads the league in FIP, ERA, fewest hits, complete games, HR/9, etc. He is having the most dominant season in the majors. His only problem is a lack of wins. He has won 15 to Sabathia’s 18, and Verlander and Hernandez’s 17. That is what pitching for Kansas City will do to you.
That leaves Rivera. I have already argued that Rivera might win the Cy Young. It is difficult to predict when a reliever will pick up a Cy Young, but they do it with regularity. Rivera is the best closer in the American League this year. If relievers are added in, Rivera suddenly leads the league in ERA and pulls ahead of Greinke in K/9, BB/9, and K/BB. However, he has only pitched 62 innings, fewer than any reliever to have won a Cy Young. I don’t think he will or should win, but it would not be a travesty if he nudges past Greinke for the award.
1. Zack Greinke
2. Mariano Rivera
3. Justin Verlander