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Pouliot’s midseason award picks: AL & NL Cy Young

Jul 2, 2013, 6:09 PM EDT

Matt Harvey Getty Images

Yesterday, we took a look at what WAR had to say as far as midseason awards winners. Now, I’m making my own choices, starting with the Cy Young Awards.

First, let’s get the charts out of the way, here are the top 10 in the AL by ERA and both versions of WAR.

ERA

1. Clay Buchholz – 9-0, 1.71 ERA, 81/29 K/BB in 84 1/3 IP
2. Hisashi Iwakuma – 7-3, 2.42 ERA, 101/17 K/BB in 115 1/3 IP
3. Felix Hernandez – 8-4, 2.70 ERA, 123/22 K/BB in 116 2/3 IP
4. Yu Darvish – 8-3, 2.78 ERA, 151/37 K/BB in 113 1/3 IP
5. Bartolo Colon – 11-2, 2.79 ERA, 61/13 K/BB in 106 1/3 IP
6. Chris Sale – 5-7, 2.79 ERA, 114/24 K/BB in 106 1/3 IP
7. Ervin Santana – 5-5, 2.84 ERA, 89/22 K/BB in 111 IP
8. Hiroki Kuroda – 7-6, 2.95 ERA, 75/21 K/BB in 106 2/3 IP
9. James Shields – 3-6, 2.99 ERA, 104/33 K/BB in 117 1/3 IP
10. Alex Cobb – 6-2, 3.01 ERA, 76/23 K/BB in 83 2/3 IP
11. Max Scherzer – 12-0, 3.10 ERA, 131/25 K/BB in 110 1/3 IP
12. Derek Holland – 6-4, 3.14 ERA, 97/27 K/BB in 106 IP

Baseball-reference WAR

1. Chris Sale – 4.3
2. Clay Buchholz – 4.2
3. Hisashi Iwakuma – 3.8
4. Felix Hernandez – 3.4
5. Yu Darvish – 3.3
6. Max Scherzer – 3.3
7. Bartolo Colon – 2.9
8. Anibal Sanchez – 2.5
9. Jesse Crain – 2.5
10. Derek Holland – 2.4

Fangraphs WAR

1. Derek Holland – 3.4
2. Max Scherzer – 3.4
3. Felix Hernandez – 3.4
4. Anibal Sanchez – 3.2
5. Chris Sale – 3.1
6. Yu Darvish – 3.0
7. Clay Buchholz – 2.9
8. Doug Fister – 2.9
9. Justin Verlander – 2.8
10. James Shields – 2.4

Buchholz was in the lead here a few weeks ago, but he hasn’t pitched since June 8 because of neck and shoulder difficulties. If the vote were held today, it’s a given that Scherzer’s 12-0 record would make him the AL Cy Young Award winner, even though he’s just 11th in the league in ERA. And he wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice. Fangraphs essentially puts him in a tie for the league WAR lead. He’s second in the AL in WHIP behind Iwakuma and second in strikeouts behind Darvish.

Also working in Scherzer’s favor here is that he’s faced a more difficult schedule than most of the alternatives. Here’s some of the top guys by opponents’ OPS:

Holland: .755
Scherzer: .753
Hernandez: .751
Darvish: .746
Iwakuma: .744
Buchholz: .733
Sale: .730

Now, that doesn’t tell the whole story. One reason Sale’s is so low is because quality left-handed hitters sit against him and get replaced by lesser right-handed hitters. That’s not something that should be held against him. However, it’s also true that Sale hasn’t faced any of the AL’s top three offenses to date.

Besides the tougher schedule, Scherzer has also had to overcome a lousy defense. The Tigers are 28th in the majors in defensive efficiency. And despite the Tigers’ struggles, Scherzer has allowed just one unearned run this year, compared to two for Darvish, three for Sale and Iwakuma and four for King Felix.

So, I think I’m in favor of Scherzer, too. Going by RA rather than ERA eliminates some of the gap, and Scherzer has been remarkably consistent. 14 of his 15 starts this year have concluded with the Tigers in the lead, and they were tied in the other.

After Scherzer, I just don’t see much to separate the two Mariners pitchers, two Rangers pitchers and Sale. Darvish has the strikeouts, but he also has issued more walks than the competition and only Iwakuma has allowed more homers. I think I prefer King Felix’s start.

AL Cy Young picks

1. Scherzer
2. Hernandez
3. Darvish
4. Iwakuma
5. Sale

Now on to the NL, where there’s a little more separation after the top two. Here are the leaderboards:

ERA

1. Matt Harvey – 7-1, 2.00 ERA, 132/24 K/BB in 117 IP
2. Jeff Locke – 7-1, 2.06 ERA, 67/41 K/BB in 96 1/3 IP
3. Clayton Kershaw – 6-5, 2.08 ERA, 118/33 K/BB in 121 1/3 IP
4. Adam Wainwright – 11-5, 2.22 ERA, 114/12 K/BB in 125 2/5 IP
5. Patrick Corbin – 9-0, 2.22 ERA, 85/29 K/BB in 109 2/3 IP
6. Stephen Strasburg – 4-6, 2.41 ERA, 90/27 K/BB in 93 1/3 IP
7. Jordan Zimmermann – 12-3, 2.46 ERA, 85/17 K/BB in 120 2/3 IP
8. Mike Leake – 7-3, 2.52 ERA, 67/21 K/BB in 103 2/3 IP
9. Cliff Lee – 9-2, 2.59 ERA, 115/21 K/BB in 125 1/3 IP
10. Jose Fernandez – 5-4, 2.72 ERA, 94/33 K/BB in 92 2/3 IP

Baseball-reference WAR

1. Matt Harvey – 4.6
2. Cliff Lee – 4.5
3. Clayton Kershaw – 4.4
4. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
5. Jorge De La Rosa – 3.8
6. Jhoulys Chacin – 3.5
7. Patrick Corbin – 3.3
8. Jordan Zimmermann – 2.8
9. Kyle Kendrick – 2.6
10. Mike Leake – 2.6

Fangraphs WAR

1. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
2. Matt Harvey – 4.2
3. Cliff Lee – 3.5
4. Clayton Kershaw – 3.1
5. Mat Latos – 2.7
6. Homer Bailey – 2.5
7. Jhoulys Chacin – 2.4
8. Jeff Samardzija – 2.4
9. Jordan Zimmermann – 2.4
10. Patrick Corbin – 2.3

A BBWAA vote right now would be pretty fascinating. It’d come down to Wainwright vs. Harvey, with Wainwright’s four extra wins being weighed against Harvey’s edges in ERA and strikeouts, plus the  Harvey hype factor.

Those aren’t the only stats in conflict between the two, though. Harvey currently has a .253 BABIP, suggesting he’s been quite lucky this season. Wainwright’s is .307, which could be taken as a sign of bad luck. His career mark coming into the year was .292, which is right about the league norm.

It’s that difference being filtered out by the Fangraphs stats, which rates them dead even. In fact, their FIPs (2.01 for Wainwright, 1.99 for Harvey) and xFIPs (2.67 for Wainwright, 2.64 for Harvey) are practically identical.

Also, it should be mentioned here that no one is even close to those two according to Fangraphs stats. The next best FIP belongs to Lee at 2.58, with Kershaw fourth at 2.67.

What also makes the NL race a little easier to judge than the AL race is that the big four have all made exactly 17 starts at the moment and range in innings from Harvey’s 117 to Wainwright’s 125 2/3. Those extra 8 2/3 innings are an edge for Wainwright, but not as big of one as some might think given that Wainwright has four complete games (and two shutouts) to Harvey’s none.

One more thing to look at. Let’s go back to strength of schedule, by opponents OPS:

Lee: .753
Kershaw: .751
Wainwright: .746
Harvey: .722

Harvey lags way behind here, courtesy of his three starts against the Marlins. In all, eight of his 17 starts have come against teams in the bottom four of the NL in runs per game (the Mets are fifth from bottom). Wainwright has faced those teams just twice, plus the Mets twice.

If the two had faced similar schedules, I’d probably give Harvey the edge here, largely because of the outstanding strikeout rate. As is, I have to lean Wainwright. And while I’m not taking it into account here, Wainwright is definitely the better bet for the full season award, since Harvey is probably going to be shut down at some point in September.

NL Cy Young picks

1. Wainwright
2. Harvey
3. Lee
4. Kershaw
5. Zimmermann

  1. neoshweaty - Jul 2, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Hopefully he stays healthy and the Mets can sign him to a deal that takes him through his early 30s. He’s having an incredible year the likes of which havent been seen in flushing since Doctor K in 85. As a fan of the team and of baseball, I’m glad he and the other young pitchers in the league are flourishing. I love offense but pitching on the level of Harvey is something else.

    • fanofevilempire - Jul 2, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      Mets will find a way to screw up Harvey, the kid is awesome, last
      time the Mets had a pitcher this good was #16.

  2. proudlycanadian - Jul 2, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    One, two three, vote for Mr. Lee! (For those of us old enough to remember the hit song Mr. Lee.)

    • historiophiliac - Jul 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      Sorry about your Wang. This game is not starting well for either of us. :(

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:03 PM

        For the second game in a row Wang did not make it out of the second inning. I expect that he will be released ASAP. Wang might be replaced by Bush. Romero and Nolin are also possibilities.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:06 PM

        See, I warned you about the HBP problem. Fister might not make it long either. Sheesh.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:17 PM

        How do you like Toronto’s 4th best lefty relief pitcher? Cecil, Loup and Oliver are the other 3. All 4 are better than Choke.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        Wang has already been designated for assignment. I expect that short term either a relief pitcher or a position player will be called up. Another starter such as Bush will be called up when necessary.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:31 PM

        I’m worried about Miggy!

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:33 PM

        So am I. He is on my fantasy team and that back injury might result in a DL trip.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:33 PM

        :(

    • nelsonsaint - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      How anyone could give The Bobbettes a thumbs down is beyond me. For shame!!!

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:28 PM

        Must be a fan of (c)Rap.

  3. stercuilus65 - Jul 2, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    When all is said and done Kershaw will be on top, again.

    • kingscourt25 - Jul 2, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      Career 2.42 ERA in the 2nd half and a 2.21 ERA the last 4 years in the 2nd half

  4. thebadguyswon - Jul 2, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    I’m a huge Harvey fan, but I’d go Waino in the NL.

  5. thomas844 - Jul 2, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Good choice with Wainwright. Only 12 free passes so far this year? That’s just ridiculous.

  6. asimonetti88 - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Kinda crazy that the Mariners have two pitchers playing at such a high level and are 10+ games under .500. Still, wish the Angels staff was throwing like that.

  7. bbk1000 - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    haha…your picks are a joke..

    I remember when Law cast a stupid ballot years ago against Wainwright and Carpenter…this is obviously your attempt at getting even…..

    You are as wrong as Law was back then….

    • Ben - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      SOOOOOOOOOOOOO intelligent. I would ask you to say more intelligent things, but I would rather just sit back and appreciate your intelligence. Which is intelligently more intelligent than anyone else’s intelligence. Intelligence. You have it. So much. Yes.

      • bbk1000 - Jul 3, 2013 at 7:38 PM

        Thanks….I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much more smarter than you…..
        I really am….

  8. moogro - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    “Now, that doesn’t tell the whole story. One reason Sale’s is so low is because quality left-handed hitters sit against him and get replaced by lesser right-handed hitters. That’s not something that should be held against him.”

    That’s good food for thought on assessing pitcher performance. If you won’t send your best hitters up because they have a bad track record or are terrible against lefties, etc. then that pitcher has reduced the performance of that team’s hitters before the game even begins.

    If managers are sitting high OPS guys against certain pitchers, is there an accounting/crediting for that statistically somewhere? Something like pitcher-matchup OPS reducer (MOR)?

    Also, do your stats of opponents OPS track who is on the roster or who actually comes up to bat?

  9. hjworton46 - Jul 3, 2013 at 4:35 AM

    I’m enjoying Harvey as a Met for now because, as has been noted by previous correspondents, the organisation will find a way to mess things up with him before too long. Go kid !

  10. lmoneyfresh - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    I’m pretty surprised to see Holland on a few of those top lists. I knew he was having a good year, despite people’s attempts to sandbag the guy, but I didn’t realize how good. He and Darvish are keeping that team afloat it seems.

  11. stex52 - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Cy Young this year will be heavily influenced by the shutting down of some of the new young stars around the league on innings limits. Comments to that effect are already floating about Miller, Sale and Harvey. I imagine there will be others.

  12. spudchukar - Jul 3, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Mathew well done. However, I’m not sure I understand your logic in the Wainwright/Harvey innings pitched comparisons. Noting that Wainwright has more innings pitched isn’t as significant as it appears cause he has 4 complete games to Harvey’s none is counter-intuitive at best.

  13. spudchukar - Jul 3, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    At 28th in defensive efficiency, the Tigers are vastly overrated.

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