Unlike many years, there really isn’t much debate over who should win the AL Cy Young this year. There weren’t very many dominant pitching performances in the AL this year. There were a lot of good pitchers, but very few stand out as dominant: only one 20-game winner, only 6 pitchers eclipsed the 200 K’s mark, only 5 starters had an ERA under 3.00, etc. As a result of this, in my top 5 for the Cy Young this year, there are two relievers. And, neither of them led the league in saves! An interesting aside: not one of my top 5 is a lefty. In fact, the last pitcher to be eliminated from my top 5 (Darvish) isn’t even a lefty.
#5 – Koji Uehara (BOS). Uehara was nearly unhittable coming out of the Red Sox bullpen. Batters hit .129 against him this season, leading to an ERA of just 1.09, a 0.57 WHIP, and 101 K’s in just 74.1 innings, leading to an impressive 11.22 K/BB ratio. He wasn’t always used as a closer, leading to just 21 saves, but he also accumulated 13 holds, and just 3 blown saves. He did have a little luck on his side, as evidenced by a .188 BABIP (batting avg. on balls in play), which is why his FIP (fielding independent pitching) is a little higher at 1.61 – but, he still had an amazing year.
#4 – Bartolo Colon (OAK). Second in the league in wins (18 – and, yes, I’m one of the few that still thinks this stat should be considered when differentiating between performances), second in ERA (2.65), 6th in FIP (3.23), and shared the league lead in shutouts (3). His WHIP wasn’t quite as impressive as some (1.17 – 12th in the AL), and he only struck out 117. But, he isn’t a strikeout pitcher, and he had the 4th highest LOB% (80%) in the league. And, since he walked the second fewest in the league (29!!), what that tells me is that he gave up his fair share of hits, but was able to buckle down and get guys out to keep baserunners from scoring.
#3 – Greg Holland (KC). Holland quietly had a very impressive year with the Royals. He was second in the league with 47 saves. Had a miniscule 1.21 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. Led the league with a 1.36 FIP. He struck out 103 in just 67 IP, leading to a very impressive 13.84 K/9 rate. The league only bat .169 against him, despite an unfortunate .282 BABIP. And, in spite of being called upon to finish 50 games (the main reason I give him the slightest edge over Uehara – he pitched the harder innings), he only blew 3 saves.
#2 – Anibal Sanchez (DET). Sanchez led the AL in ERA (2.57), struck out 202, led the league in FIP (2.36), was 6th in BAA (.226), and 9th in WHIP (1.15). And, what did he get for it? A 14-8 record. He was one of the most unlucky pitchers in the AL, as his BABIP was a massive .307. A little better luck, and he likely would have been battling his own teammate for this award.
#1 – Max Scherzer (DET). You can’t ignore the league-leading 21 wins. You definitely can’t ignore the fact that he only had 3 losses. A 2.90 ERA (5th), 240 K’s (2nd), 0.97 WHIP (1st), .196 BAA (2nd), and 2.74 FIP (3rd). No other pitcher in the AL really comes close to that combination of stats. Scherzer is the obvious choice.