Handicapping the Awards – AL Cy Young Edition

We are just about at the halfway point of the MLB season, so it’s time to start handicapping the award races. Today we’ll look at the AL Cy Young race.

The favorite

Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers (3.6 WAR)

While Jered Weaver may have gotten off to the better start and have a higher WAR, Verlander is the favorite for the award. His K/9 and BB/9 are both better than Weaver’s, as well his K-BB (101 for Verlander; 78 for Weaver). Weaver does give up less home runs and his FIP is a little bit better, BUT, Verlander still has a good HR rate- it’s under 1.0- and his FIP is still an outstanding 2.88 while his xFIP is 2.98. The only thing to look to be wary of is a really low BABIP of .222. I don’t think it will be a problem the rest of the season in terms of correcting itself, but we’ll see.

In striking distance aka the rest of the field

Jered Weaver – SP – Los Angeles Angels (3.9 WAR)

Weaver got off to a blazing start and has only cooled down slightly. He has a 7.74 K/9, 2.04 BB/9, and 0.36 HR/9 to go with a 1.97 ERA, 2.45 FIP, and 3.47 xFIP. He’s looking at a 6+ WAR season and if his performance continues in the second half, then he could also be looking at the Cy Young award come November.

CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees (3.9 WAR)

For all the talk about his declining K rate and his end of season opt-out, CCs fine season has been lost in the shuffle. He is currently sporting a 2.66 FIP and 3.23 xFIP. Once again CC has been the Yankees horse, clocking in at 129 innings at the moment, tying him for second in the AL in IP.

Dan Haren – SP – Los Angeles Angels (3.3 WAR)

While his staff mate Jered Weaver gets all the attention, Haren has been just as special. Haren has a 7.56 K/9, 1.39 BB/9- which is best in the league- an 80 K-BB which is better than Weaver’s and a 2.69 FIP and 3.06 xFIP. It should be a fun second half watching these two compete with each other for a Cy Young.

David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays (3.3 WAR)

My boy David Price has once again been a dominant ace for the Rays and put himself in contention for the Cy Young award. He is among the league leaders in strikeouts with an 8.85 rate, but he also doesn’t put anyone on base, as shown by his a 1.68 BB rate. Price also does a good job preventing home runs and the result is a 2.67 FIP and 2.89 xFIP. In fact, of most of these contenders chasing down Verlander, I think Price probably has the best chance of doing so.

Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners (3.3 WAR)

While last season’s award winner has not been as dominant as he was in 2010, especially with teammate Michael Pineda stealing some attention, Felix has still been kingly. A 3.3 WAR, 2.81 FIP and 3.11 xFIP are nothing to scoff at. Along with Price and Verlander, Felix again is atop the K leader boards, and he has the best HR/9 of his career. In fact, a 2.81 FIP and 8.65 K/9 would also be the best marks of his career.

James Shields – SP – Tampa Bay Rays (2.9 WAR)

Finally putting everything together, James Shields has been awesome. He has an 8.88 K/9 to lead the league, along with a 2.10 BB/9, 3.07 FIP, and 2.80 xFIP. Home runs allowed are usually a problem for him, but he has kept his HR/9 below 1.0 at 0.91. If he can keep the home runs down, Shields should be a contender all season long.

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