The Cy Young Award goes to the best overall pitching performance over the span of the entire season. This was more difficult to decipher than I initially anticipated. Does one look at wins? ERA? Innings pitched? Number of strikeouts? It isn’t easy and I do not necessarily envy the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who are the lucky few who are afforded the right to make this extremely tough decision.
It goes beyond those statistics mentioned, however. Does one include relief pitchers or number of saves? Should their ERAs factor in when they have pitched far fewer innings? Were there any records set?
In some circumstances I’d say yes, at first, because Dennis Eckersley won the Cy Young Award in 1992 as a closer and Mariano Rivera certainly should have at won one at one point in his career, although he never actually did win.
Yet there have always been awards for relievers and especially now due to the announcement of the new awards for relievers, the American League Mariano Rivera Award and the National League Trevor Hoffman Award, I think that the Cy Young Award should be limited to starting pitchers in the majority of situations.
There are always exceptions to the rule like Eckersley, Rivera and Hoffman but for the sake of this season and this article this selection will be solely based on starting pitching. and their numbers as of August 31, 2014. I will be looking at certain statistics: wins, ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts. These are my final five picks (and an honorable mention) for the N.L. Cy Young Award in 2014.
Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers — 13-8, 2.72ERA, 172.1IP, 182K
5. Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres
12-12, 2.64ERA, 181.0IP, 156K
Ross has been having a fantastic though under the radar season because he pitches for the San Diego Padres. He is in the top ten for National League pitchers in wins (tied for fifth), ERA (fourth), strikeouts (sixth) and innings pitched (eighth). He was in the top 10 more often than the great Zack Greinke which is why he gets the number five spot on this list.
Ross managed to win 12 games on a team that is currently 64-71 and is 12 games out of first place in the N.L. West. That is a pretty incredible feat and since Ross made such a splash into the pitching elite without really even making a sound makes him a dark horse for the Cy Young Award.
4. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
15-9, 2.59ERA, 188.0IP, 150K
Wainwright received the honor of starting the All-Star Game for the National League. He is ranked third in the N.L. with a 2.59 ERA and is a proven workhorse, ranking fourth in innings pitched.
Although Wainwright has fewer strikeouts so far this season than anyone else on this list, his name certainly deserves to be here among the N.L.. pitching elite.
3. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
16-9, 2.97ERA, 191.0IP, 199K
Bumgarner is, at this point, one of only three pitchers who already has 16 wins on the year. He recently just missed a perfect game giving up one hit in nine full innings while not allowing a run or a walk. His ERA is higher than anyone on the list but it is still under 3.00 which is incredible considering the number of innings he has pitched.
His name appears in the top five N.L. pitchers in ERA, wins, strikeouts and innings pitched. His 2014 performance this season definitely warrants a place on this list.
2. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
16-8, 2.26ERA, 207.0IP, 205K
A first time All-Star in 2014, the Reds’ Johnny Cueto has had an outstanding year. He has as many wins as reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw yet more losses still he has the second best winning percentage in the National League. His ERA ranks second in the N.L. as well.
He’s also thrown more innings than any other N.L. pitcher. He’s thrown four complete games, with two of them shutouts. Cueto’s performance in 2014 is certainly Cy Young Award worthy.
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
16-3, 1.73ERA, 161.1IP, 194K
Clayton Kershaw is the reigning Cy Young Award winner. Not only did he win the award in 2013, he finished second in the voting in 2012 and won the award in 2011. He is arguably the best pitcher in the game today and for the past few years.
The four-time All-Star is tied with Bumgarner for the most wins but he has the fewest losses of any other starter who has started at least 20 games. With an ERA well under 2.00, he may have pitched few innings than some of the others on this list and his strikeout total is competitive.
Kershaw also threw a no-hitter this year — a feat that no one else who is on this list can claim during the 2014 season — with five other complete games, one of which was also a shutout. Kershaw is at the top of a group of elite pitchers in both the American and National Leagues. He definitely has the best chance to win the Cy Young Award for the 2014 season.