Handicapping the Awards – NL Cy Young Edition

Last week I put up my field for the AL Cy Young award, so it’s time for my take on the senior circuit race.

The favorite

Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (4.8 WAR)

Not only has Doc Halladay been the best pitch in baseball, he is arguably the MVP of the NL. Right now his 4.8 WAR blows away the field, But so does his league leading BB/9 (1.12), FIP (2.21) and xFIP (2.42). Halladay also is posting the highest K rate of his career, at 8.65, the first time it’s ever been north of 8.0. With six complete games already, Halladay is also looking to best his career highs in CG, IP, and WAR. I’ll put the odds in his favor.

Best of the rest

Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers (3.9 WAR)

Clayton Kershaw is a beast. That’s all there is to  it. The dood has a 10.13 K/9 which is just insane and blows away other NL pitchers. But Kershaw has always had fantastic K rates. What’s made this such a special season for him is the lowered BB rate. It’s under 3.0 for the first time at 2.41 BB/9. Kershaw is going to top his best seasons of K/9, BB/9, and WAR. If not for Halladay, he’d be bringing home some hardware come November.

Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (3.9 WAR)

Many figured Cole Hamels would be the fourth best SP of the Four Aces in Philly, but Hamels has emerged as being just as deserving of the spotlight as the other aces. In just half a season, Hamels has already accumulated the second best WAR total in a single season. Right now it’s at 3.9, with his career high being 4.4 in 2008. The key to his success has been an increase in ground balls, which has resulted in far few home runs allowed. In every season until now, his HR/9 has been 1.0+. Currently it sits at 0.51. If this change is for real, Hamels will be a Cy Young contender for a LONG TIME.

Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (3.5 WAR)

Not to be outdone by teammates Doc Halladay and Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee has established himself (again) as a candidate for a Cy Young award. His control has been pinpoint once again, he has a career high 8.91 K/9, and sub-3.00 ERA, FIP, and xFIP. The man has become a model of consistency. And the thing is- he could pitch even better and even challenge Halladay for the crown.

Don’t count them out

Tim Lincecum – SP – San Francisco Giants (3.2 WAR)

Timmy started out the season red hot and his since cooled off. But even during slumps Timmy remains one of the best arms in the game. He has a 2.70 FIP and 2.87 xFIP, meaning he is still just one of six NL starters to have their FIP and xFIP both below 3.00. Once he gets back in the groove, he can easily rise to the top of the field of contenders chasing Halladay.

Dan Hudson – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks (3.2 WAR)

Daniel Hudson is a great young pitcher and should be a reliable arm in the desert for a long time. My only concern with him is the long ball. Sure, between this season and last season in Arizona, a hitters ballpark, he hasn’t allowed many homers. But he IS a fly ball heavy pitcher and I don’t know if he will be able to limit home runs. If he can, he’ll stay in the race through September.

Honorable mentions

Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants (3.1 WAR)

He is too far behind Halladay, but I want to highlight him. He was my favorite prospect in the minors when he was in development because of how young he was, but also because his dominance was all the more awesome considering the age. He will win a Cy Young or two in the future. Boy, the NL has a lot of young, lefty aces- Kershaw, Hamels, Bumgarner.

Jordan Zimmerman – SP – Washington Nationals (3.0)

Who thought the most valuable National this season would be Jordan? He may not have gaudy K numbers, but he doesn’t walk anybody (1.74 BB/9). Nationals have a real bright future ahead of them…

Stayed tuned for when I handicap the AL and NL MVP races.

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