Handicapping 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 almost reaches double digits) that can make serious claims to be the Cy Young winner. That is insane. The pitching talent in baseball right now is extremely deep, which makes it a great time to be a fan. The best part? Of all the pitchers I will highlight in this thread, ten are under the age of thirty. Dayumn.

You know the drill. Let’s get the ball rolling…

The Unassuming favorite

Josh Johnson – SP – Florida Marlins (4.4 WAR)

While Ubaldo Jiminez has stolen headlines with a ferocious start to the season, Johnson has quietly dominated the National League. When I say dominated, I mean DOMINATED. He leads the NL in ERA (1.70), FIP (2.33), and tERA (2.41) and is second to Doc Halladay in xFIP (3.08). J-Johnson has a 9.07 K/9, 2.07 BB/9, and 0.30 HR/9. The result is a NL leading 4.4 WAR. He strikes people out, doesn’t walk many batters, and doesn’t give up home runs. That’s all you can ask for from a pitcher and right now he has been the best total package among NL pitchers. Oh yeah, he also leads all NL pitchers in WPA at 3.69. So yeah, he brings it during high leverage situations. If he keeps mowing down opponents, he should be taking home the Cy Young crown in November.

FG rest of season projection: 81 IP, 2.85 FIP, 8.56 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 0.56 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 203 IP, 2.48 FIP, 8.87 K/9, 2.22 BB/9, 0.40 HR/9

Breathing down his neck

Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (4.1 WAR)

During the off-season the Phillies brought the AL’s best pitcher to town via trade hoping he would wreck an inferior league. Well, they can’t be disappointed with his individual performance thus far. Halladay is having a career year- his 2.88 FIP is his best mark since 2002. Moreover, he is posting the third best xFIP (3.02) and second best tERA (3.39) of his career. As usual, Doc has been an innings eater, leading the NL in IP (139) and complete games (7). Even though we’re not even at the AS break yet, he is one shutout away from tying his career high of four. Halladay has a 7.71 K/9, one of the better marks of his career, and a 1.17 BB/9, which leads the NL. Halladay has posted a BB/9 below 2.0 in every season since 2004. WOW. Roy has a 4.1 WAR, and due to the value he brings via innings pitched, he is the strongest challenger to Johnson. In fact, one could make a very convincing case that Halladay should be the Cy Young winner if voting occurred today. Much like Johnson, he has been fantastic in pressure situations, with a 3.21 WPA, third best in the NL.

FG rest of season projection: 118 IP, 2.95 FIP, 7.86 K/9, 1.37 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 2.89 FIP, 7.77 K/9, 1.26 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9

The field

Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals (3.2 WAR)

If Josh Johnson isn’t the most unappreciated pitcher in the league, then that title most certainly goes to Adam Wainwright. Overshadowed in St. Louis by superstar Albert Pujols and fellow pitcher Chris Carpenter, Wainwright has emerged as a legitimate ace. Through 128 innings, he has a 3.07 FIP, 3.17 xFIP, 2.93 tERA, 8.63 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9. Dood has been filthy. He finished top three in Cy Young voting last season and has been ever better in 2010. He’s a strikeout pitcher, who still induces ground balls, and can eat up innings. He is among the top five when it comes to FIP, xFIP, and tERA. Sounds like a Cy Young candidate to me.

FG rest of season projection: 103 IP, 3.00 FIP, 8.39 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 231 IP, 2.98 FIP,8.52 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 0.66 K/9

Ubaldo Jiminez – SP – Colorado Rockies (3.3 WAR)*

Wait, what, you have Jiminez in the middle of the field? But, but, but he has 15 wins!

No, I’m not crazy. Jiminez has been really good, but so have several other pitchers in what has been dubbed the Year of the Pitcher. When looking at the stats, Ubaldo just has no claim as the favorite, although he certainly can emerge as the favorite because he has been excellent nonetheless. After a torrid start, he has cooled off, like many SABR-heads expected when looking at his periphs. He has a 3.20 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, 3.13 tERA, 8.09 K/9, 3.33 BB/9, and 0.45 HR/9. Great numbers, but right away you realize why he isn’t the favorite. My current favorite, Josh Johnson, strikes more people out, walks less people, and gives up less home runs. He does everything better than Jiminez. That is the plain old truth, in numbers. That also doesn’t mean Jiminez has no shot. He should have a great second half and Johnson could always struggle or get hurt.

FG rest of season projection: 101 IP, 3.58 FIP, 7.66 K/9, 3.74 BB/9, 0.62 K/9

FG updated final season numbers: 220 IP, 3.32 FIP, 7.90 K/9, 3.52 BB/9, 0.53 HR/9

Tim Lincecum – SP – San Francisco Giants (3.1 WAR)

Yes, it looks likely that Timmy will not be winning his third straight Cy Young award. He hasn’t been pitching great lately either. But make no mistake, Timmy still has been amazing. His FIP (3.04) and xFIP (3.26) are both in the top five in the NL and his 10.11 K/9 leads the NL. If Lincecum gets back in his groove, he could have the best second half of any pitcher in the league. And if he does that, there’s a good chance he passes many contenders in the field and knocks off the current favorite- don’t count Timmy out!

FG rest of season projection: 108 IP, 2.76 FIP, 10.33 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 224 IP, 2.89 FIP, 10.22 K/9, 3.49 BB/9, 0.60 HR/9

Yovanni Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers (2.9 WAR)

Hopefully Gallardo doesn’t spend too much time on the DL, because he has been having a Cy Young worthy season thus far. He is one of three NL pitchers with a sub 3.00 FIP (currently 2.99) and has a 3.48 xFIP and 3.42 tERA. The Brewers ace has a 9.83 K/9, 3.87 BB/9, and 0.48 HR/9. Looking at their current numbers, one could make the case he has been better than everyone’s favorite, Ubaldo Jiminez. Gallardo is lower in the pack though because of his recent injury, and he may be pitching just a little bit above his head at the moment. The Brewers should be glad they locked him up when they did though, because he is a fantastic, young pitcher.

FG rest of season projection: 80 IP, 3.44 FIP, 9.79 K/9, 4.05 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 191 IP, 3.15 FIP, 9.81 K/9, 3.94 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9

The Rocky underdog candidates

Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers (2.3 WAR)

What’s there to love about Kershaw? His 10.01 K/9, 3.24 FIP, and amazing 2.83 tERA. What’s  not to love about Kershaw? His not so nice 4.31 BB/9 and not so Cy Young worthy 4.01 xFIP. He is a young talent with amazing strikeout ability- but can also lose the zone as shown by his ugly BB rate. Kershaw is on the outskirts of the discussion, but if he can finish strong he is a deserving candidate. Either way, I think it’s safe to say the dood will win quite a few of these in his career.

FG rest of season projection: 88 IP, 3.23 FIP, 9.31 K/9, 4.30 BB/9, 0.51 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 192 IP, 3.16 FIP, 9.69 K/9, 4.31 BB/9, 0.51 HR/9

Roy Oswalt – SP – Houston Astros (2.3 WAR)*

While Oswalt may be the subject of trade talk, he should also be the subject of Cy Young talk, as he is having his best season since 2006. His 8.43 K/9 is the best mark of his career since his rookie season in 2001. Couple that with solid 2.51 BB/9 and 0.89 HR/9 and it’s no surprise as to why he’s having a fantastic year. His FIP is 3.41, his best since 2006. His xFIP is 3.49, his best since 2005. His tERA is 3.63, his best since 2007. Oswalt has been one of the best pitchers of our generation, but he has been overshadowed by Johan Santana and Doc Halladay. 2010 has been no different as the man just continues to pitch.

FG rest of season projection: 92 IP, 3.65 FIP, 7.53 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 203 IP, 3.51 FIP, 8.02 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 0.93 HR/9

Matt Latos – SP – San Diego Padres (1.8 WAR)

Matt Latos is good at pitching. Real good. He has an 8.22 K/9,  2.35 BB/9, and 0.81 HR/9 to go along with a 3.32 FIP, 3.59 xFIP, and 2.65 tERA. The tERA is what gets me. He is a rookie and sporting an amazingly low tERA that is better than every pitcher but Josh Johnson. However, he is a rookie who threw around 130 innings last season, so I doubt he pitches much over 170 innings this year. The lack of IP will hurt his Cy Young bid, but he makes an interesting choice for Rookie of the Year with Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg on the ballot. Also, while he has been great, he has been the beneficiary of a pitcher’s park and amazing defense. Expect a good, but not as great, second half.

FG rest of season projection: 53 IP, 3.70 FIP, 7.30 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, 0.85 HR/9

FG updated final season numbers: 152 IP, 3.41 FIP, 7.90 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, 0.81 HR/9

Hey, don’t count us out

Tommy Hanson – SP – Atlanta Braves (3.38 FIP, 4.09 xFIP, 3.40 tERA, 9.12 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9, 2.1 WAR)

Danny Haren – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks (3.84 FIP, 3.46 FIP, 4.13 tERA, 8.68 K/9, 1.75 BB/9, 1.39 HR/9, 2.3 WAR)

Chad Billingsley – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers (3.50 FIP, 3.88 xFIP, 3.52 tERA, 8.12 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9, 1.7 WAR)


Although I believe Ubaldo will win the award in real life he continues to pile up the wins (especially if Colorado makes the playoffs) I have the race coming down to Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay. Although it looks like Johnson has been slightly, Doc’s ability to eat innings and go a full nine on any given night give’s him some added value. It’s a toss-up between those two, but based off Johnson’s current dominance and second half projections, he is my bet to win the NL Cy Young.

*Ubaldo Jiminez and Roy Oswalt pitched today, so those stats are not updated on FG yet. I will update their numbers tomorrow.

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One Comment on “Handicapping the Awards – NL Cy Young Edition”

  1. […] I’d take a look at the Cy Young races today, since I really haven’t checked up on it since […]

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