Yesterday on MLB Now, Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds went over who they thought was the front runner for the 2013 AL Cy Young Award. The options given by the show were Bartolo Colon, Hisashi Iwakuma, Max Scherzer, Clay Bucholz and Yu Darvish.
If you are not familiar with the show, it is essentially new-school sabermetrics pitted against old-school whatever it is Harold Reynolds believes in. They tweet out questions like the one below, and then have Kenny and Reynolds debate the issue, while the fan vote is calculated at the bottom of the screen.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 21, 2013
I think it goes without saying that those are not your typical Cy Young names. Colon is 40, Iwakuma was overshadowed by Darvish, Scherzer and Bucholtz are (were) at best #2 starters, and Darvish is in just his second season. Nevertheless, all five are having terrific years, and are in line for Cy Young seasons.
Reynolds went with Scherzer, but did not really give a straight answer as to why. Kenny suggested it was because of the 10-0 record (something most know by now is a team stat), but HR wouldn’t commit.
Scherzer is no doubt having a great year, even better than his teammate Justin Verlander. On the season, Scherzer has a pitcher-slash (ERA/FIP/xFIP) of 3.05/2.54/2.82 in 103 1/3 innings. Notice that while the ERA is good, it is the sabermetric stats that really suggest he has been great, which is why it was somewhat surprising to hear Reynolds choose him.
The fans, however, chose Yu Darvish as their Cy Young, which is equally as defensible. He has pitched to a .284/2.82/2.52 slash line on the year, very similar to Scherzer. I do not recall the exact percentage of the votes Darvish got from the viewers, but it was a pretty large majority when you consider there were so many options.
Those two are definitely the front runners, and for good reason. But there are those who will look at Bucholtz’s 1.71 ERA and say he is at the top. And that is understandable. The only hitch is that he has been injured this season — something that has become a problem for him over his career — and his xFIP is a little high, suggesting he hasn’t been quite as good as he looks (3.21). But I think he deserves to be up there with the other two, just maybe in third place.
You can probably stop there and not even mention Iwakuma (2.26/3.33/3.18) or Colon (2.93/3.33/3.89) since they are a ways behind the others, especially Colon. But, as a Mariner fan, I want to at least discuss Iwakuma a little bit.
He has had himself a very good year in his own right, especially after being relatively unknown coming into the season. He has pitched very well this year, even with a couple of rough outings recently. He gives up a few too many home runs though, and that is something that will hold him back.
I am not arguing that he should win, but I just felt like he deserves more recognition than he gets. And Colon does too, considering he is pitching like an ace at his advanced age.
Who is your AL Cy Young right now? Someone on the list above, or maybe an outsider like James Shields?
I apologize for the slight bias I showed in this article, but it was something that I had a strong opinion on, both due to the fact that I am a fan of sabermetrics, and because I have a horse in this particular race.