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. A’s will have six months to play the “what if” game

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:44 AM EDT

    Jonny Gomes, Sam Fuld Jonny Gomes, Sam Fuld

    In-game losses left the A’s undermanned in defeat.

  2. Video: Salvador Perez walks off Royals in Wild Card Game

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT

    salvador perez getty Getty Images

    In case you missed it, here is the replay of Salvador Perez’s walkoff hit from Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game …

  3. Small ball prevails … in a 9-8 game

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT

    Wild Card Game - Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals Getty Images

    You get a bunt and you get a bunt and you get a bunt!

  4. Royals complete thrilling comeback to defeat A’s in the American League Wild Card Game

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT

    eric hosmer getty Getty Images

    Salvador Perez was held hitless in his first five at-bats of Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but he smacked a walkoff RBI single down the left-field line in the 12th inning to give the Royals a 9-8 victory over the A’s.

  5. Coco Crisp exits Wild Card Game with hamstring injury

    Oct 1, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT

    coco crisp getty Getty Images

    A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was removed from Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game before the bottom of the 11th inning with an apparent hamstring injury.

  6. Royals tie AL Wild Card Game in bottom of the ninth

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT

    jarrod dyson getty Getty Images

    We’ve got a brand new ballgame in Kansas City.

  7. Hyun-Jin Ryu will test his injured left shoulder with a simulated game Wednesday

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT

    ryu getty Getty Images

    Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will test his injured shoulder in a simulated game Wednesday. He’s hoping to start Game 3 of the NLDS in St. Louis.

  8. Brandon Moss slugs three-run shot, A’s jump back on top

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT

    brandon moss getty Getty Images

    Oakland opened the floodgates on the Royals in the sixth inning.

  9. Video: Eric Hosmer hits go-ahead RBI single, Royals lead Athletics in AL Wild Card Game

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    hosmer getty Getty Images

    Watch the host Royals take the lead in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game against the visiting A’s on this RBI bloop single from Eric Hosmer in the bottom of the third inning …

  10. Geovany Soto leaves Wild Card game with thumb injury

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    Geovany Soto Athletics AP

    Derek Norris came off the bench to replace him.

  11. Matt Shoemaker throws another bullpen session, has “no doubt” he can pitch in ALDS

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT

    matt shoemaker getty Getty Images

    Angels starter Matt Shoemaker hasn’t pitched in a game since September 15 due to a left oblique strain, but he is making steady progress behind the scenes and expects to be available for the ALDS.

  12. Braves hitting coach Greg Walker has resigned

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT

    braves logo

    Braves hitting coach Greg Walker officially stepped down on Tuesday evening, as announced on the club’s Twitter feed.

  13. Travis Ishikawa will be Giants’ left fielder in Wild Card game

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    ishikawa_travis AP

    Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield.

  14. Clay Buchholz undergoes surgery on right knee

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    clay buchholz getty Getty Images

    Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz underwent surgery Tuesday to correct a right meniscus injury that bothered him off and on throughout the 2014 season. He should have a fairly normal winter.

  15. Clayton Kershaw “likely” to pitch on short rest if needed

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw AP

    Kershaw and Greinke four times in five games?

  16. Cubs expect Javier Baez to be their Opening Day second baseman despite rookie struggles

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    javier baez Getty Images

    Javier Baez hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games as a 21-year-old rookie.

  17. Josh Hamilton declares himself ready for the ALDS

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT

    josh hamilton getty Getty Images

    Josh Hamilton has played in just one game since September 4 due to shoulder, chest, and rib cage injuries, but the 33-year-old outfielder took batting practice, threw some long toss, and ran the bases on Tuesday afternoon and has declared himself ready for the ALDS, which begins on Thursday.

  18. The Cardinals have the Best Fans In Baseball

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT

    old TV

    It’s all about how you define the term “best,” of course.

  19. Dee Gordon cleared to play for Dodgers after hip injury

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Dee Gordon AP

    Gordon led the NL in steals and triples this season.

Featured video

Do Royals or A's have the edge tonight?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Jeter (3301)
  2. C. Kershaw (2430)
  3. R. Martin (2372)
  4. A. Rodriguez (2026)
  5. J. Altuve (1909)
  1. D. Gordon (1839)
  2. J. Hamilton (1781)
  3. I. Suzuki (1678)
  4. D. Ortiz (1664)
  5. E. Volquez (1596)