Posted tagged ‘Justin Verlander’

KILL THE WIN

October 20, 2013

For those of you that follow Brian Kenny on twitter you know his mission this season has been to “#KILLTHEWIN”. This is a worthwhile mission and I’m here to voice my support. Granted if you are a follower of this blog (I probably lost them when I didn’t post for two years) you know the win is an expired stat, but this is for those who may have happened upon 4PARL by chance.

The win is an archaic stat that currently has no useful performance evaluation qualities. Despite that, too much stock is put into the win by coaches, players, fans, and the media. These parties need to progress in terms of its evaluative thought process and there are several easy to learn metrics available on the internet that are better indicators of a pitchers performance.

The box score dates back to the early 1860’s when writer Henry Chadwick devised a system to better track the game of baseball and keep tallies of individual stats. At the time, the win was a stat that made sense. Pitchers pitched all nine innings. If he won, the team won. Fast forward some 150 years and the win is no longer a relevant stat in baseball. This is what the stat does- it gives credit to the pitcher who leaves the game with his team winning, assuming the team does go on to win. It makes no distinction of how the pitcher performed during his time in the game. it does not matter if the pitcher threw a shutout or gave up ten runs. If he leaves with a lead and the team keeps that lead, the pitcher gets a win.

How ridiculous is that? You can get credit for helping a team win, even if your performance hurt the team. On September 17, Yusmeiro Petit went six innings for the San Francisco Giants against the New York Mets. He allowed seven hits and three walks for a total of ten base runners. He gave up four runs in those six innings and struck out just one batter. Yet he still got the win to go to 4-0 on the season. On the final game of the regular season, Justin Verlander threw six shutout innings against the Miami Marlins. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out ten batters. Yet his team was no-hit so he had nothing to show for it. Tell me how it makes sense that Petit can pitch pretty terrible and be credited with a win, while Justin Verlander can put up a much better performance and not get credit for it. You can’t.

Now let’s play everybody’s favorite game: Pitcher A and Pitcher B.

Pitcher A: 21-3, 214 IP, 10.08 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9, 2.74 FIP

Pitcher B: 12-10, 204 IP, 9.51 K/9, 2.03 BB/9, 0.66 HR/9, 2.61 FIP

Here we see two near identical, dominant pitchers. Both have K rates over 9, low BB and HR rates, and FIPs well under 3.0. Yet one pitcher is 21-3 and the other has a near .500 win/loss record. Well, pitcher A is Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer. The other is Felix Hernandez.

If wins had any value in evaluating performance, then Felix Hernandez should be much better than 12-10. The difference is that Felix Hernandez plays for the Mariners who scored 3.85 runs per game while Scherzer played for the Tigers who scored 4.91 runs per game. And that figure jumped up to 5.9 runs in games that Scherzer pitched! It’d be near impossible NOT to win 20 games with that kind of run support.

So as you can tell, so many outside factors other than a pitcher influence their win and loss record. Sure, most of the time the pitcher still has to be at least average in a game to get a win. But he needs help from the defense- a good defense can take away quite a few runs in a season. Moreover, the pitcher needs a lot of help from the offense. You can be dominant but still not get the win. You can be terrible but still get a win because the offense scored ten runs.

In the face of all this common sense, coaches, players, fans, and the media still put value in the win. When Max Scherzer won his 20th game, it was a huge news story. In fact, he will probably win the Cy Young this year on his 21 wins alone, and not because he did the three things a pitcher can control well (strikeouts, walks, home runs). Jack Morris is still a Hall of Fame contender because of his 254 career wins even though he was “only” a good pitcher. Tom Glavine is in the Hall of Fame for winning over 300 career games, even though he was simply a mediocre pitcher for most of his career- he just had the fortune of playing for a dominant Braves team in the 1990’s.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is one of the many coaches who still loves the win. In regards to Scherzer he said earlier this season, “I also like guys that win. I’d rather have a pitcher nobody is talking about who has won 15 games than somebody everyone is raving about who has won five”. That is a very stubborn point of view. Baseball is very much a team game. Mediocre pitchers can win 15 games and start pitchers can win very few. Chris Tillman won 16 games this year. He had a 4.42 FIP and did more to hurt his team than help with an atrocious 1.44 HR/9. Stephen Strasburg only won 8 games despite putting up some pretty fantastic numbers.

The win was created during the Civil War. Baseball thought needs to catch up with the 21st century. A stat that is 150 years old should not carry the weight that it does. It has no evaluative value and yet it still is one of the most popular statistics in the game. This should not be when there is a wealth of performance stats that are widely available a better indicator of pitcher performance.

Pitchers control three outcomes: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. They do not full control hits because the defense and their range plays a big part in whether a ball is caught for an out or not. A home run is a controllable skill because the defense has no impact on the result and because some pitchers are ground ball pitchers while others are fly ball pitchers. So you can look at K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 which is the rate per innings of those three categories. FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching takes those three outcomes into account and adjusts for the league and it is on the ERA scale so it’s easy for the casual fan to know what is a good FIP and a bad FIP. These basic indicators are simple to understand, easy to calculate and/or look up, and better for evaluating pitcher performance.

It’s the year 2013. KILL THE WIN.

Jered Weaver locked up long term

August 22, 2011

The LA Angels signed Weaver to a 5/$85mil extension. That means he’ll be an Angel until 2016 and until he’s 33 years old. So let me say: this was a great deal.

Jered Weaver is a stud. That simple. Since his debut in 2006, his fWAR has gone up every season and this season should top out around 6+ fWAR. He’s had a BB/9 in the 2’s every season. In all his seasons of 30+ starts, all but one he has had a K/9 in the 7’s; the exception? 2010 when it was 9.35. These past two seasons Weaver has been a top of the league ace and is consistent and dependable as hell.

Weaver would have had one more year of arbitration before signing the extension. So in all likelihood he would have made around $13mil in my estimation. Then he would have been a FA. Here’s how I believe that would have played, and payed, out:

WAR: 6, 5.5, 5, 4.5

Value ($): 30mil, 28.9, 27.5, 23

Excessive? Yeah, but that’s what his market projects to be if he achieves those WAR numbers, which is a very realistic figure in my opinion. If $ per WAR goes up 250K a year starting at $5mil in 2013, that’s how much he’d be worth. So I have his projected value at $122.4mil. Since he’ll be paid $85mil, that’s a saving of $37.4mil- enough to lock up Mike Trout!

Would he have gotten that much as a FA? It’s tough to say. I’m inclined to say yes if GMs see him in the same class as a CC Sabathia or Johan Santana when they were in contract negotiations.

So basically, great deal. It’s a deal that’s similar to the extensions Verlander and Felix Hernandez signed, and Weaver is in their class, so all around it’s a good deal for player and team.

Handicapping the Awards – AL Cy Young Edition

July 1, 2011

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.

Is Justin Verlander’s fastball the most overrated pitch in baseball?

July 22, 2010

You asked and I’ll answer. Okay, so I asked and I’ll answer. Let’s get a crackin’!

In a recent Sports Illustrated poll, Justin Verlander’s fastball was voted the best in the game. Verlander won with 30% of the vote, while Jon Broxton was a distant second at 11%. Not only do the players who face Verlander believe that Verlander has the best fastball in baseball, but they overwhelmingly believe its the best fastball in the game. The fact that so many players thought Verlander had the best fastball made me head on over to fangraphs to see if the numbers backed up the players belief.

In terms of pure speed, Verlander has a case. His fastball velocity is 95.8 mph, which is second best among all ML starters behind Ubaldo Jiminez. Verlander was second last year as well with a velocity of 95.6 mph, and before a poor 2008 where his velocity dipped to 93.6 mph, Verlander was third in baseball in 2007 with a fastball velocity of 94.8 mph. So if best fastball means fastest fastball to big leaguers, than they accurately put Verlander at the top.

But as we all know, there is more to a fastball than speed. There is speed and movement, and even then a hard fastball can be an ineffective pitch. So I looked at the pitch value of his fastball compared to all other qualified pitchers who has a positive wFB.


I highlighted Justin Verlander’s bar in orange. As it turns out, Verlander’s fastball has been far from the best in 2010. His wFB is 6.3, which is currently 35th best in baseball, tied with Broson Arroyo. Bronson Arroyo isn’t exactly known for his fastball. Maybe looking at wFB/C would give us a little different result. Lets see.

Verlander is highlighted in orange. Again, the numbers don’t back up the players. His wFB/C is 0.50. Not exactly “the best” worthy.

This is only 2010 though. Maybe the players voted his fastball the best based on a dominant pitch in the past.

In 2009 his wFB was fifth best at 25.4, but his wFB/C was just ninth best at 0.97. In 2008 his wFB was 46th best(!) and his wFB/C was completely average at 0.02. In 2007 his wFB with thirteenth best at 13.3 and his wFB/C once again was simply alright, at 0.64.

Conclusion

It may not be the most overrated pitch in baseball, but Verlander’s fastball is clearly the most overrated fastball in the majors. Yes it’s fast and yes it still is a good pitch, but it has been anything other than the best in baseball the past four seasons. It worked really well for him in 2009, but outside that year it’s simply been an above average pitch- nothing to write home about.

For all the players praise of Justin Verlander’s fastball, hitters have fared a lot better against it then they would make out to believe.

Handicapping the Awards – AL Cy Young Edition

July 6, 2010

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

Predictions

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.

Tigers lock up Justin Verlander

February 4, 2010

Supposedly the Tigers have signed Justin Verlander to a 5/$80mil deal. After handing out some sketchy and expensive contracts the past few years (what you talking ’bout Willis- yeah corny I know) the Tigers have made a financialy smart move. They bought out two arbitration years and three years of free agency at a slighty discounted price.

Verlander will be turning 27 in a couple weeks, and the Tigers will have locked him up to a decent price for his collective peak years. Through his age 23-25 seasons, Verlander was a solid 3-4 WAR who broke out last season to the tune of an 8.2 WAR (second best among AL pitchers in 2009). He increased his K/9 to over 10, while lowering his BB/9 to 2.36. He also does a good job keeping the ball in the park.

Going forward, one can project Verlander to be a 5+ WAR pitcher. In fact, the Fans have him pegged for a 5.8 WAR in 2010 and other projection systems have him projected in that range as well. A 5 WAR would mean Detroit will be underpaying him according to his market value, but that’s even more important to Detroit since they get to lock up a franchise player who draws fans to games and will help them compete in the weak AL Central.

Well done, Detroit.

Discussion question: What is your current top 5 in the AL MVP voting?

August 27, 2009

Here is an opinion i recently posted after glancin at a couple of stats…

Joe Mauer
Zack Greinke
Ben Zobrist
Justin Verlander
Derek Jeter

HM Evan Longoria, Marco Scutaro, Roy Halladay, Miguel Cabrera,

Also, Mark Teixera may, or may not be in my top 10, i’d need to look much more in depth.

Handicapping the Awards – AL Cy Young Edition

July 20, 2009

Presently the AL and NL MVP’s have clear favorites however as will be discussed the CY Young awards seem to have a much different feel. In the American League there is one pitcher who has stood above the rest but his team may ultimately let him down in his chase for the honors. Zack Greinke was oddly passed over for the starting job in the All-Star game this past week and I fear that even with a great second half the results may be the same in the Cy Young vote at year’s end because the field combating Greinke for the award are having some excellent seasons in their own right.

*/ stats provided are in the order of ERA/Whip/FIP

** Stats up to date through play on 7/18/09

Pedro Junior a.k.a. The Favorite

Zack Greinke – SP – Kansas City Royals (6.1 WAR)

By now everyone in the baseball world has heard the story of Greinke overcoming personal issues to take his place among the elite pitchers of the game. What I find most intriguing is that most individuals don’t realize just how truly special his season has been. In a 134.1 innings Greinke has recorded 136 strikeouts and only walked 24 batters for a K-BB ratio of 5.67 good for 2nd best in the AL behind Roy Halladay. Couple this dominance with Greinke’s continued ability to keep the ball in the park (4 HR allowed) a line of 2.08/1.11/1.97 becomes possible. The 1.97 FIP would be the lowest mark since Martinez went 1.39 in the greatest pitching season ever in 1999.

It would be near impossible for Greinke to match his first half output but ZIPS projections have him ending the season at 2.59/1.15/2.44 and 16 wins. If the Royals can provide Greinke with the run support and bullpen help every starter needs this award could be his in a run away.

The Field

Roy Halladay – SP – Toronto Blue Jays (4.2 WAR)

Presently the main story surrounding Halladay are trade rumors and not the dominance he has once again shown. With a 10-3 mark in a 123.0 innings pitch, Halladay leads the AL in K-BB ration at 6.24 while sporting a line of 2.85/1.10/2.85. If the former CY Young winner keeps his home in the American League a 2nd Cy Young season could be in the makings. With a ZIPS rest of season projection of 3.40/1.16/3.17 leading to a final line of 3.10/1.13/2.97 and a league best 5.24 K-BB another Cy Young is certainly within reach.

Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners (4.2 WAR)

The one they call King seems destined to finally put his name in the hat for best pitcher in the American League if not in baseball. The great season that Felix Hernandez is putting together seems to get lost in the shuffle at times but with a line of 2.51/1.12/2.84 in 132.2 innings it could soon be time for the whole country to recognize just how special this 23 year old could be. ZIPS projects only 6 more wins for Hernandez in 2009 which could lead to a lower then deserved spot on many voters’ ballots but with a projected final line of 2.98/1.20/2.92 and 213 strikeouts the King will deserve to have his name in the hat come the final day of the season.

Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers (4.5 WAR)

The 2009 league leader in strikeouts Verlander takes his spot on this ballot ahead of his teammate Edwin Jackson because of better projections, a much better K-BB ratio and a FIP over a half run better. Boasting a record of 10-5 in 129.1 innings Verlander unlike Halladay and Hernandez plays for a division leader who seem better equipped to give him the necessary support to pile up those precious wins (well in the voters eyes at least). Coming in with a line of 3.34/1.19/2.74 and a K/9 of 10.79, Verlander’s FIP actually suggests his numbers will improve in the 2nd half. ZIPS has a final line of 17-10 3.56/1.24/3.01 for Verlander and if he can perform to those levels, add a few wins and lead the league in strikeouts the CY Young coming to rest in Detroit is not so hard to imagine.

Josh Beckett – SP – Boston Red Sox (3.5 WAR)

Another starter with a teammate who could warrant discussion in this post, Beckett got off to a slow start in ’09 going 2-2 with a 7.22 ERA in April but since then he has been just as good as any pitcher in the American League. Boasting a league leading 11 wins and a line of 3.35/1.15/3.28 Beckett is back to his ’07 caliber when he finished second in the voting to C.C. Sabathia. With a ZIPS projected final line of 3.58/1.18/3.25 with 18-7 record strikeouts approaching 200, the Red Sox ace could find himself in line to take home his first award.

Do not sleep on this guy

Jered Weaver – SP – LAA Angels (2.6 WAR)

Weaver does not sport the FIP and WAR totals of the other candidates but in the eyes of the BBWAA he has a few things going for him. First he already has 10 wins and plays for a perennial contender that should aid him in pursuit of leading the AL in wins. Second he has 107 strikeouts in 124.0 IP, if he can maintain that strikeout rate and approach 210 IP his strikeout total will be large enough to attract voters’ attention. Regardless if Weaver will deserve the award with a ZIPS projected final line of 3.66/1.21/3.68 a strong second half in which he pushes close to 20 victories and out performs those projections just slightly will keep his name in the race as the Angels attempt to win another AL West crown.

Predictions

Zach Greinke will end up being the best pitcher in the American League in 2009. However because he plays in relative obscurity in Kansas City the baseball world as a whole will not realize just how good he has been. With that said one does not need to go out on much of a limb to select Roy Halladay as the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, but that is what I must do here, of course with the caveat that he actually finishes the season in the American League.