It’s only April, but it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2017 AL and NL Cy Young Award races.
The month of April is winding down, and though the major league season has just begun, it’s time to take a look at the American League and National League Cy Young races.
Recapping last year’s votes, Max Scherzer won the honor for the second time in his career, and joined an exclusive group of pitchers to win the Cy Young in both the American League (he won with the Tigers in 2013) and in the National League. Scherzer, who posted a 20-7 record with a 2.96 ERA and 284 strikeouts in 228.1 innings, beat out Cubs starters Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks.
Scherzer’s former teammate Rick Porcello beat out Scherzer’s other former teammate, Justin Verlander, for the AL Cy Young — much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Though Verlander actually received more first place votes, Porcello, who went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 223 innings, narrowly won the honor for the first time.
Awarded each year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the Cy Young Award still largely honors traditional baseball metrics, including ERA and wins, as well as strikeouts and saves. Nevertheless, as baseball writers and thinkers have evolved, newer and more advanced metrics have come into play. As a result, we will break down each candidate from every angle in order to try and give the best representation of the voters.
Note: All references to WAR use Fangraphs (fWAR) calculations
5. Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles
He’s spent the majority of his adult life as a top pitching prospect, but 24-year-old Dylan Bundy now appears to be simply a top pitcher. Bundy started the 2016 season in the bullpen before graduating to the starting rotation. He has become one of the top starters in the AL during the first month of the season.
Entering Wednesday, Bundy ranked fourth in the majors and third in the American League in WAR (1.2), according to Fangraphs. Bundy leads the majors with three wins in four starts, and has posted a 1.37 ERA, which ranks fourth in the AL, in 26.1 innings. With just 22 hits allowed and four walks, good for a tiny 4.0 percent walk rate, Bundy has a solid 0.987 WHIP, and he has yet to surrender a home run. He ranks fifth in the majors (and fourth in the AL) in FIP (1.85).
Though his strikeout numbers haven’t been great so far, Bundy has swing-and-miss stuff. He has fanned 20 hitters, and has just a 20.4 percent strikeout rate, but Bundy has thrown his nasty slider 25.5 percent of the time this season after not using the pitch at all in his first full big league season. He also ranks second in baseball and best in the AL in limiting hard contact, with only 16.2 percent of batted balls being hit hard.
Bundy has been great so far, but the concern for the right-hander isn’t talent, it’s whether or not he can stay healthy. Last season, Bundy was healthy enough to pitch 109.2 innings in the big leagues, which is a great sign. Nevertheless, he’s yet to pitch a full season out of the rotation, as he hopes to do this year.