Handicapping the Awards – AL Cy Young Edition

We are at the halfway point in the season, so it’s time to start looking forward to the end of season awards. Today features the AL Cy Young, as the title implies. In both the AL and the NL, I don’t think there has been as deep or as good a race as there is this year in a long time. There are a handful of pitchers right now who have legitimate cases to win the Cy Young, which means it will be tough for the BBWAA to mess things up this season.

The Dirty Swag favorite

Francisco Liriano – SP- Minnesota Twins (4.2 WAR)

The King of Filth is back. After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 2006 with a 2.55 FIP and 4.1 WAR in just over 100 innings, Liriano ended up missing all of 2007 with an injury, and pitched in just parts of 2008 and 2009 at the ML level. But he has returned in 2010, picking up where he left off in 2006. The man only has a 2.10 FIP, which leads baseball. The man only has a 2.88 xFIP, which leads baseball. The man only has a 2.42 tERA, which trails Cliff Lee. The man only has a 4.2 WAR, which leads baseball. He is striking out over a better an inning with a 9.88 K/9, which is the third best mark in the AL, and his 26.5% K% is second best in the AL to Jered Weaver. His walk rate is 2.38 BB/9 (same as in 2006) and he has given up just two home runs thus far. No typo. Only two home runs allowed thus far. How does his second half look? Well, his BABIP is high at .352, which one would expect to move down closer to his career average. So if anything, Liriano has not had luck on his side. Of course, his HR rate may not stay where it is, but his FB% is just 28.7%. His HR/FB% is well below his career average, but if he continues to get grounders while racking up the K’s, he may not give up many homers in the second half.

FG rest of season projection: 85 IP, 3.34 FIP, 8.68 K/9, 3.18 BB/89, and 0.74 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 190.7 IP, 2.59 FIP, 9.35 K/9, 2.74 BB/9, and 0.42 HR/9

The Field

Cliff Lee – SP – Seattle Mariners (4.0 WAR)

Cliff Lee is having a special season. Until recently, I had him pegged as my Cy Young, until I realized how dominant Liriano has been. But we might be witnessing an historic season with Cliff Lee, despite the fact he missed an entire month due to injury. The man doesn’t walk anybody. At all. In 2008 his BB/9 was 1.37. In 2009 that number skyrocketed all the way up to 1.67. This season it is 0.52. Okay, hold on, I just lost it looking at that stat. Simply amazing. But that is not the historic part. His K/BB is 14.83. That would be the best single season in the history of baseball. Who is in second? Brett Saberhagen with an 11.0 ratio. Yup. So not only is Lee making history, he is crushing history with a K/BB ratio 3.83 better than the next best mark. Holy shit.

Lee is second in baseball to Liriano with a 2.22 FIP and second to Liriano when it comes to x FIP with a 3.25 mark. He is second to Liriano in WAR with a 4.0 WAR and boasts Liriano in tERA, with a 2.16 figure. While I have Liriano as the Cy Young if the season ended today, Lee presents himself as the biggest challenger in my book and might just take the lead if he keeps up his historic season. I mean, it’s almost the ASG and the dood has allowed single digit walks. I know he missed April, but he still has pitched over 100 innings thanks to five complete games. Dood is boss. Dood will make bank soon.

FG rest of season projection: 107 IP, 3.06 FIP, 6.98 K/9, 1.51 BB/9, 0.67 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 210.7 IP, 2.65 FIP, 7.35 K/9, 1.03 BB/9, 0.56 HR/9

Jered Weaver – SP – Anaheim Angels (3.2 WAR)

While many people say that Shin-soo Choo is the most underrated player in baseball, my vote will go towards Jered Weaver. Despite being the ace on a winning club in a giant market like LA, Weaver isn’t quite a household name. In fact, he isn’t even on the AL All-Star team, even though the game will be played in Anaheim. Meanwhile, the man just K’s bitches- to the tune of a league leading 10.27 batters per nine innings. He doesn’t walk many people either as noted by his 2.15 BB/9. He has a 2.89 FIP, 3.26 xFIP, and 2.67 tERA. His HR rate is a little high at 0.91, which might be costing him the award. But his HR/9 is lower than his career average, so we shouldn’t expect him to lower it in the second half.

FG rest of season projection: 96 IP, 3.85 FIP, 8.06 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, 1.13 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 204.7 IP, 3.34 FIP, 9.23 K.9, 2.37 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9

Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox (3.5 WAR)

In the beginning of the season I thought Jon Lester would emerge as the best lefty in the league. Little did I know Cliff Lee and Francisco Liriano would turn into super pitchers, but Lester remains a Cy Young candidate nonetheless. In his first couple ML seasons, Lester wasn’t particular adept at striking people out, but in 2009 he struck out 9.96 batters per nine innings. He has kept that pace up this season, with a 9.32 K/9. Couple that with a 3.32 BB/9 and 0.47 HR/9, and it’s no surprise that he has cemented himself as one of the best aces in the game. His 2.93 FIP, 3.39 xFIP, and 3.06 tERA are among the leaders in the AL.

FG rest of season projection: 101 IP, 3.32 FIP, 8.38 K/9, 3.03 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 215 IP, 3.01 FIP, 8.87 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 0.54 HR/9

Coming up strong

Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners (2.9 WAR)

He started out slow, but has been ON FIRE his past several starts. His slow start may cost him in the long run, but if he can prolong his current hot streak, he will be in the thick of things come October. This young stud is having another career year with numbers that include an 8.58 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 0.67 HR/9, 3.25 FIP, 3.46 xFIP, and 3.00 tERA. Amazing Seattle has him AND Cliff Lee AND a good defense, but still aren’t a good team. That offense must be BAD.

FG rest of season projection: 118 IP, 3.26 FIP, 8.39 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 239.7 IP, 3.19 FIP, 8.49 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9

Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers (2.8 WAR)

If it wasn’t for arguably the best pitching season since Pedro back in 2000 by Zack Greinke, Verlander probably would have been the 2009 AL Cy Young winner. While he hasn’t been as stellar this season, Verlander has still been great enough to get attention for the Cy Young award. It’s going to take a dominant second half to move ahead of some pitchers already highlighted, but he can do it. He currently has a 3.21 FIP, 3.97 xFIP, and 2.99 tERA.

FG rest of season projection: 110 IP, 3.37 FIP, 8.92 K/9, 3.11 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 220 IP, 3.24 FIP, 8.67 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 0.70 HR/9

Dark horse

Zack Greinke – SP – Kansas City Royals (2.3 WAR)

No one expected Zack to repeat his 2009 performance, but his performance in 2010 have left fans wanting more. The main culprit has been a much lower K rate and much higher HR rate than in 2009. But he still has been very good. He has a 3.65 FIP, 3.81 xFIP, and 3.58 tERA this season, all of which are a tad below the numbers of the other candidates. But if Greinke can match his second half projections, he could move to the front of the pack, which is why he is my dark horse candidate to repeat as AL Cy Young.

FG rest of season projection: 110 IP, 3.07 FIP, 8.67 K/9, 2.05 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 222 IP, 3.31 FIP, 8.03 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, 0.93 HR/9


At the midway point, I would give the award to Liriano. I think he will keep it up and earn his first Cy Young Award. However, if Lee stays in the AL and continues his historic season, he can overcome Liriano. And as for the mainstream media- he would easily win if he pitches well for his new team and continues to throw complete games, something the average fan and writer loves.

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2 Comments on “Handicapping the Awards – AL Cy Young Edition”

  1. […] the Awards – NL Cy Young Edition Year of the Pitcher v 2.0. I already looked at how stacked the AL is, but the NL is even more loaded. There are two STUDS and after that, a list of pitchers (that […]

  2. […] A look at the 2010 Cy Young races With only a couple weeks left in the season, there are still some exciting races in baseball- the AL East division crown, the NL West division crown, and the NL Wild Card. But playoff races aren’t the only races heating up. Both the Cy Young and MVP awards in both leagues will be going down to the wire. So I thought I’d take a look at the Cy Young races today, since I really haven’t checked up on it since summer. […]

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