Time for the fourth of our six awards at the OC, the AL Cy Young award. This one went down to the wire between a pair of players who are both very much deserving of the award. But only one can win. Who was it, you ask?
AL Cy Young
1) Justin Verlander (31 points, seven first place votes)
2) Jered Weaver (31 points, six first place votes)
3) CC Sabathia (12 points)
4) Dan Haren (4 points)
5) Felix Hernandez (1 point)
Verlander ends up getting the nod in our voting, despite not pitching in the All-Star Game tonight due to him pitching on Monday. The competition between him and Weaver was fierce, but Verlander ended up pulling it out, despite not being put on one writer’s ballot (which I assume was just an oversight). Verlander is third in the AL in fWAR behind Sabathia and Weaver, third in FIP behind those two, second in ERA behind Weaver, first in xFIP, and is the league leader in strikeouts. There really isn’t a wrong answer between Weaver and Verlander, but the Tigers ace gets the nod on the strength of his no hitter earlier this season.
Jered Weaver is having a fantastic season, and has already eclipsed the career of his brother Jeff. He’s got a sub-2.00 to lead the league, a sub-2.00 walk rate, and he leads the league in FIP. Weaver is really doing it all this year, and there isn’t really a definitive winner between him and Verlander. Either one would be a good choice, but our writers barely favored Verlander. That’s not a slight on Weaver, because he has been excellent this season. 4.7 WAR in the 19 starts is astounding, and that’s where Weaver is right now.
CC Sabathia was an All-Star snub (before being selected as an injury replacement, and then not being able to pitch because he threw on Sunday), and I’m not really sure why. If you’re into wins, he leads the league there. Only Verlander has thrown more innings than Sabathia’s 145 2/3. He plays for a playoff team. I guess the major knock on Sabathia is his 2.72 ERA, which pales in comparison to the microscopic marks posted by Verlander and Weaver. It’s a lot like Cliff Lee in the NL: he’s having a great year, but is getting overshadowed. Like Lee, in any other year, he’d be a great candidate. But there are two better candidates this year.
Dan Haren is getting overlooked because of Weaver’s dominance on his own team. Haren is fourth in the league in WAR, sixth in ERA, and third in FIP. He’s also second in the league in walk rate, which is one of those things that tends to get lost in the shuffle. But the thing about Haren is the same as with all of the Philly pitchers. No matter how we’ll you’re pitching, if a teammate is pitching better, he’ll get the most attention. Weaver was on every one of our ballots. Haren was only on one third of them. It’s not a slight on Haren, he’s just got a teammate pitching lights out right now.
Finally, the reigning winner, Felix Hernandez, got a vote. He’s fifth in the league in WAR, third in innings pitched, and second in strikeouts. But at this point in the season, he’s got an ERA above three, and a FIP and xFIP in the same general area. When you’ve got guys putting up just silly numbers, your great numbers aren’t going to look as good. This isn’t like last year, when Hernandez had an awful record for a terrible team, but had the underlying stats to back it up. This year, he’s got a mediocre record for a mediocre team, and the underlying stats are there….but there are also better candidates. No one would campaign for Hernandez to win the award for an average Mariners team as long as the guys ahead of him in our voting keep hanging zeroes on the board.
All we have left are the MVP votes, and those will be unveiled tomorrow: 10 AM for the NL, noon for the AL. We did five player ballots for the MVP, so more players are going to get some love on this one.