Skip to content

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

Latest Posts
  1. Video: Justin Turner pulls off a slick slide at second base

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:12 AM EDT

    Justin Turner AP

    Justin Turner was going to be out by a mile on this ill-advised stolen base attempt in the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, but he got a little creative …

  2. Kyle Schwarber undergoing MRI for right side injury

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT

    Kyle Schwarber AP

    There’s expected to be an update coming Thursday.

  3. Video: Ruben Tejada hits inside-the-park home run as Mets rout the Phillies at Citi Field

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:38 PM EDT

    Ruben Tejada AP

    Ruben Tejada scored an inside-the-park home run Wednesday at Citi Field when Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown flipped over the wall down the right field line in the bottom of the second inning …

  4. Stephen Strasburg ruled out Friday with upper back issue

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT

    Stephen Strasburg AP

    Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was pulled after four rough innings Sunday against the Marlins with discomfort in his upper back, and now the injury is going to cost him his next rotation turn.

  5. Twins will not call up Jose Berrios

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:44 PM EDT

    Jose Berrios AP

    It shows very poor planning on the part of the Twins’ decision-makers, who let Berrios throw 161 1/3 innings this season between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester …

  6. Carlos Martinez to return to Cardinals’ rotation on Friday

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

    Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Nationals with what was described as a minor back issue.

  7. Paul Goldschmidt excused from Diamondbacks to be present for the birth of his first child

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

    Arizona has a scheduled team off day Thursday, so Goldschmidt is only going to miss a game or two.

  8. Video: Albert Pujols cranks his 35th home run of the season, 555th home run of his career

    Sep 2, 2015, 7:22 PM EDT

    Albert Pujols AP

    Pujols is now just one of four players in the history of Major League Baseball to reach the 35-homer plateau in 10 of his first 15 major league seasons.

  9. Giants release infielder Everth Cabrera

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Everth Cabrera Everth Cabrera

    Cabrera signed a minor league deal with San Francisco in mid-July after getting released by the Orioles.

  10. Mike Rizzo thinks Matt Williams “pushed all the right buttons” last night

    Sep 2, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT

    Mike Rizzo Getty Images

    He said the job he did was “masterful.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  11. Cardinals skip Michael Wacha from start to limit innings

    Sep 2, 2015, 5:07 PM EDT

    wacha getty Getty Images

    Left-hander Tyler Lyons will start in Wacha’s place against the Nationals.

  12. Bat Flipping in Korea: not-so-serious business

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Puig Bat Flip

    And, I would guess, it wont be such serious business here after a few years either.

  13. The Marlins are going to change everything except their biggest problem this offseason

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:31 AM EDT

    jeffrey loria getty Getty Images

    Of course their biggest problem is not going anyplace, as he owns the team.

  14. Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi disagree on whether A-Rod should play first base

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Alex Rodriguez

    A picture of A-Rod from yesterday — not this one — seems to be the tiebreaker here.

  15. Elvis Andrus stole home. On a straight steal. Not one of those BS double steals

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:51 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.49.09 AM

    He caught Kevin Quackenbush napping. Almost literally napping.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Correa (2552)
  2. G. Stanton (2515)
  3. H. Ramirez (2496)
  4. G. Springer (2488)
  5. B. Crawford (2309)
  1. M. Teixeira (2288)
  2. H. Pence (2219)
  3. J. Baez (2208)
  4. J. Hamilton (2167)
  5. Y. Puig (2111)