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.

American League favorite

In my book, Francisco Liriano still is the favorite to win the award. As of today, the award is between him, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez. Honestly, you could pick one of their names out of a hat and I’d be cool with that person being the winner. But I like Liriano based on several things. First, there are three outcomes a pitcher has control of- strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Liriano is third in the league in K/9 at 9.38, and his K rate is better than that of King Felix and Cliff Lee. BB/9 is where Liriano “falters” as Hernandez and Lee have better marks (Lee has an ungodly 0.72 BB/9). But when it comes to homers allowed, Liriano blows the field away. He leads the league with a 0.25 HR/9. Talk about preventing runs. Liriano strikes guys out and doesn’t allow homers. You can cite Target Field, but Felix pitches in Safeco, and Lee pitched in Safeco for a couple months.

Delving further, Liriano has the best FIP, xFIP, and tERA in the AL. A clean sweep. The triple crown of DIPS. When I throw that into the fact of the three things a pitcher can control, Liriano is better than Lee and Felix at two of them, I have to give Liriano the award.

American League candidates

2) Cliff Lee- As I mentioned, I wouldn’t care if he won the award. His fWAR leads all pitchers in baseball at 6.5. He doesn’t walk anybody. He throws a lot of innings which is real valuable. If he hadn’t missed April, he very well could be the clear leading candidate.

3) Felix Hernandez- Again, I’d be cool if he won the award. He is in this spot because of an AMAZING second half. But when I did the dirty work, I just liked Liriano better, and then put Lee second partly because of IP. I know Felix has thrown more innings, but that’s because Lee missed a month and then some. On a per start basis, Lee eats up more innings.

4) Jon Lester- As the Red Sox fortunes took a turn for the worse, people seemed to tune Jon Lester out. But he’s been his amazing self, leading the AL in K/9 and racking a 5.6 fWAR.

5) Jered Weaver- He fell off a little bit, but he is second in the AL with a 9.40 K/9, and has a 5.6 fWAR. Not too shabby. He should get some votes.

Who will win

I think CC Sabathia will win. Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee could give him a serious run for his money. Unfortunately, that small streak of “poor” pitching by Lee a few weeks ago will be taken into consideration by the voters. Despite the W/L record, I believe Felix will get a ton of support, since he has been getting a good deal of attention lately by people trying to show that W/L is crap. Attention is always good for winning awards. But CC has 20 wins, pitches for the team with the best record, and has been good- if not Felix good. The worst part is that Carl Pavano will get more votes than Liriano.

National League favorite

Right now, its gotta be Roy Halladay. I was really hoping Josh Johnson would win the award, but his season ending injury has done him in. But he’s been so good that despite missing September, I still think he gives Halladay a run for his money. However, Doc is just a horse. He’s tossed 241 innings. He’s thrown eight complete games. He has three shutouts. He leads in the NL by far with a 1.12 BB/9. His K/9 is 7.10 which is the best mark of his career. His 6.4 fWAR leads the NL. He has a 3.07 FIP, leads the NL with a 2.95 xFIP, and has a 3.43 tERA. ‘Nuff said. He has been brilliant.

National League candidates

2) Josh Johnson- Until his injury, Johnson was almost literally unstoppable. His 2.43 FIP did lead the NL, and by a fair margin. He was third in xFIP at 3.17. His tERA is 2.78. Yeah. His 0.34 HR/9 led the NL and his 9.11 K/9 is better than the strongest candidates for the award. It’s a shame he got hurt, because the award was all his. I mean, Doc has tossed 241 innings and has a 6.4 fWAR. Johnson threw 183 innings and has a 6.2 WAR. Yeah.

3) Adam Wainwright- I don’t know how or why, but Wainwright gets overlooked a lot. But he has a 2.86 FIP, 3.15 xFIP, a 2.92 tERA, and logged an impressive 224 innings. His fWAR is 6.0 and he is a strong challenger to Doc for the Cy Young.

4) Ubaldo Jiminez- He may have had that fantastic come to a screeching halt sometime in June, but he has kept up the dominance. His fWAR is 5.9 and he continues to strike people out at a fantastic rate. Considering he pitches at Coors, it’s amazing his HR/9 is second in the league at 0.36 HR/9. It’s also amazing that considering his best pitch is the fastball, he can still succeed at Coors. I’ve mentioned before how the altitude lessens the movement of the fastball, which is key for Ubaldo along with his velocity. But he is a freak and should get some votes.

Who will win

Doc Halladay. He won twenty games. He has pitched well by average standards. The award is his. Ubaldo still might challenge him, but his campaign trail has been losing steam for sometime now.

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