Tag: Cy Young Award

Rick Porcello Is Worthy of Cy Young, but How Did Justin Verlander Lose?

Justin Verlander won the popular vote, which is worth about as much this week as it was last week.

There’s a system for these elections, and we all have to come together and accept Rick Porcello as our 2016 American League Cy Young winner. Hey, it’s not that bad.

Porcello had a Cy-worthy season, especially if you’re one of those who still believe a starting pitcher’s goal every time out is to try to win the game. Porcello had 22 of those much-derided but oh-so-valuable wins, and in his 20 starts from June 18 to the end of the season, his Boston Red Sox went 17-3.

If you’re looking for reasons the Red Sox won the AL East after two years finishing in last place, their ability to win nearly every game Porcello started for three-plus months figures prominently on the list.

And if you’re looking for reasons Porcello came out on top when the Cy Young Award was handed out Wednesday night, well, it’s hard not to look at the voting process. It’s hard to explain that while nearly half the voters put Verlander atop their ballot (14 of 30, as opposed to just eight for Porcello), most of the other half had him well down the list or out of the top five altogether.

If you’re going to take this year’s voting as a sign more voters believe in wins—Porcello and National League winner Max Scherzer led the two leagues in that much-maligned category—you have to acknowledge Porcello won mostly because a large majority of voters had him as their second choice.

Porcello won because he received 18 second-place votes, to only two for Verlander. With seven points for every first-place vote and four points for each second-place vote, Porcello had a commanding lead even before we get to the fact two writers both left Verlander off their five-pitcher ballot.

It’s a little curious the two who didn’t vote for Verlander (Fred Goodall of the Associated Press and Bill Chastain of MLB.com) both cover the Tampa Bay Rays, especially since in his only 2016 start against the Rays, Verlander allowed one earned run in seven innings. Maybe they were expecting a no-hitter, or maybe they were just impressed by Porcello going 5-0 in six starts against the Rays this year.

For the record, if Goodall and Chastain had put Verlander fourth or fifth, he still would have lost.

But hey, what’s a contested election without a bit of controversy in Florida?

And what’s a contested election in 2016 without celebrity involvement, with a little salty language mixed in? Kate Upton, Verlander’s fiancee, reacted to the vote with this tweet (Warning: NSFW language):

Verlander’s younger brother Ben, a minor league outfielder with the Detroit Tigers, tweeted the same chart Justin used before the results came out:

Justin himself is vacationing in Italy, which may be the reason he didn’t tweet a reaction himself. Besides that, he and Porcello were teammates for six seasons with the Tigers; don’t expect angry words between these two top candidates.

“Justin had a great year,” Porcello said on a conference call. “I learned a lot from him.”

They’re not alike as pitchers, with Verlander’s power showing in his big edge in strikeouts (254-189). Porcello relies more on his sinker and getting ground balls.

There are differences off the field, too, and not just because Verlander has become more of a celebrity himself. While Verlander can discuss his numbers and the relative merits of all the Cy Young candidates, Porcello said he barely thought about the award until the finalists were announced last week.

“I just figured whatever’s going to happen is going to happen,” Porcello said.

What happened was all those wins helped Porcello get a few first-place votes and a ton of second-place votes, and it ultimately helped him win an award Verlander took going away in 2011.

“I do believe there are a lot of things [about wins and losses] you can’t control, but I also believe there are a lot of things you can control,” Porcello said. “There’s a way to go out and pitch to win a game, and there’s a way to go out and pitch not to lose a game.”

He went on to talk about pitching aggressively, and how that can help a team play better defense and perhaps even get off the field and get back to scoring runs. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s clear Porcello (only 32 walks in 223 innings) pitched aggressively this season.

He pitched confidently, and he pitched like a winner. He pitched like a Cy Young winner, and regardless of whether you like the election process or agree with the result, he is a worthy winner.

As for anyone who wants to say Verlander was even more worthy, fine. But in this race, finishing second isn’t all that bad.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Dannyon Twitterand talk baseball.

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10 Pitchers Most Likely To Be in the Cy Young Race This Season

What does a pitcher need to win the Cy Young Award?

This list will undoubtedly feature some of the top arms in the game. Several of the pitchers here have won the award before, while others have come close—but not close enough. 

The top pitchers in baseball also have that certain pitch that they throw as well as anyone in the gamea true go-to pitch to get that elusive third strike. Clayton Kershaw has arguably the best curveball in the game, while Felix Hernandez’s changeup has fooled many a hitter. Chris Sale’s slider is as dominant as either of the former two pitches.

Cy Young contenders not only have a go-to pitch but also have the consistency and situational awareness to win games. This gives them the ability to win those 1-0 and 2-1 games that simply “good” pitchers can’t always win.

The criteria for this list are mostly comprised of those elements, in addition to how well they can command those pitches and truly dominate their starts. Previously winning the award (or coming close) is a big help as well.

You’ll notice that each slide is accompanied by a video of the pitcher, showing him dominate or complete some sort of amazing feat. These are crucial elements in the making of a Cy Young-caliber pitcher.

For the sake of this list, there is no league bias. Obviously, there is a separate Cy Young Award for the American and National Leagues, and typically one emerges as the more competitive race. However, this list is simply about individual abilities and will stand independent of league affiliation, although I will give my prediction for the Cy Young Award winner in each league when the corresponding player’s slide appears.

Now, let’s take a look at the most likely candidates to win the Cy Young this season.

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The Next MLB Starting Pitchers Who Will Ascend to ‘Ace’ Status

Defining an “ace” pitcher in Major League Baseball is difficult because it’s subjective. What’s more, just about everyone has a different opinion on how many actual “aces” there are and whether specific pitchers qualify or come up just short.

In some ways, however, it’s simple: You know an ace when you see one.

But in the interest of trying to make this exercise of identifying the sport’s next aces-in-the-making a bit more objective, there needs to be some criteria.

To qualify for this endeavor, a pitcher…

  1. Must have a legitimate chance to become a full-blown ace in 2015, as in this upcoming season
  2. Must never have placed in the top 10 in Cy Young Award voting to this point in his career
  3. Must not have more than five years of MLB service time

Take careful note of these three standards, because the first requires a pitcher who is not only in relatively good health but also ready for the majors right now.

That goes a long way toward answering why, say, Lucas Giolito or Noah Syndergaard, widely considered two of the best pitching prospects in the game right now, don’t make the cut. While the Washington Nationals right-hander is too far away for 2015, the New York Mets righty might need a season or two before he really takes off, as most on-the-cusp prospects do (i.e. Carlos Rodon, Archie Bradley, Daniel Norris, etc.).

The second criterion explains why you won’t see, for instance, the San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner or the Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg or even the Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, one of 2014’s breakout arms. Those three have finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting, so they are considered aces already, to varying degrees.

As for the service time requirement, well, let’s just say that if it ain’t happened after five seasons in the big leagues, chances are, it ain’t happenin‘. Although, there’s a case to be made for an arm like Jeff Samardzija, who just misses the cut with five years and 28 days of service time.

One last thing to keep in mind here: Pitching is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious deep these days, so there was no shortage of candidates, even with the above specifications. But because the aim here—it needs to be reinforced—is to find the next true front-of-the-rotation starting pitchers, don’t be dismayed if [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE PITCHER HERE] didn’t quite make the cut.

All that considered, here are the top 10 candidates to ascend to “ace-dom” this year.

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Bleacher Report’s Full 2014 MLB Awards Preview, Predictions

As the baseball industry awaits the first big transaction of the offseason—sorry, Adam Lind for Marco Estrada doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing—the focus shifts temporarily to another matter, the individual awards.

Until there’s a major move either in the free-agent market or on the trade front, the chases and races for MVP, Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year hold our attention.

Starting Monday, Nov. 10, and continuing every evening through Thursday, Nov. 13, the winner of each honor in either league will be announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

With all of the finalists—three per for all four awards—having been determined earlier this week, here’s a preview of the choices and a rundown of the predicted winners.

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Felix Hernandez vs Corey Kluber: The AL Cy Young Race Is Closer Than You Think

For most of the 2014 season, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners has been the undisputed choice to win his second AL Cy Young award. 

But Corey Kluber has produced an incredible second half for the Cleveland Indians, making the decision for voters much more difficult than anticipated.

Both pitchers are deserving of the award.

Felix leads the AL in ERA (2.07), WHIP (0.91), quality starts (27) and batting average against (.200). In a 16-start stretch from May 18 to August 11, Felix pitched no less than seven innings and allowed no more than two runs.

At the All-Star break no other candidate could touch Felix, especially not Kluber.

Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs compared first-half WAR for both players in a recent article. Felix’s 5.0 WAR in the first half was almost an entire two wins higher than Kluber’s 3.3 WAR. The Mariners’ ace was running away with the Cy Young while Kluber was barely on the radar.

Yet Kluber has managed to produce an equally remarkable second half.

The Indians’ right-hander posted a 3.7 WAR after the All-Star break, over two wins better than Felix’s 1.2 WAR. While Felix failed to maintain his record-breaking form, Kluber posted a 1.88 second-half ERA to emerge as a dark horse candidate to challenge King Felix.

As the season enters its final weekend, Kluber has actually surpassed Felix in FanGraphs WAR (7.0 to 6.1). Kluber actually leads all MLB pitchers in WAR, even than the great Clayton Kershaw.

Kluber has made his case with prodigious strikeout numbers. With his devastating curveball, he leads the MLB in strikeouts. Opposing hitters are hitting just .094 against his curve while striking out 118 times. Although Felix leads Kluber in ERA by almost half a run, Kluber has been able to bridge the gap due to these strikeout numbers. 

Voters love to use ERA when making their decisions on the Cy Young. But Fielding Independent Pitching has become a more reliable statistic when evaluating a pitcher’s performance. FIP takes into just those elements a pitcher can directly control (strikeouts, walks and home runs) while assuming league averages for elements more influenced by chance (hits, sequencing of those hits, etc.).

Felix has benefited from playing in a pitcher0friendly ballpark at Safeco Field while Kluber has needed to be much sharper at the more-volatile Progressive Field. 

Then there is the defense.

Kluber has posted an incredible pitching season while playing with the very worst defense in MLB, while Seattle has been the third-best defensive team in baseball. Felix has been a recipient of stellar defense, making all the difference in the Seattle ace’s lower ERA. Due to these differences, it is no surprise to find Kluber as the AL leader in FIP.

Not to take anything away from Felix, but to view the AL Cy Young race as a foregone conclusion would be a mistake. Felix started fast, but Kluber has caught up to him down the stretch. Others are noticing Kluber’s momentum. 

But how will the voters cast their ballots?

It really should come down to a very slim margin for whomever wins the award. But I expect Felix to take home the honors. But why? Yes, he has produced a fantastic season filled with jaw-dropping stats, but so has Kluber. So what will be the difference?

Ultimately voters gravitate towards lower ERA numbers, which Hernandez has. He also is the more recognizable star so his season has been a bigger blip on the national radar than Kluber’s has.

Felix Hernandez deserves the AL Cy Young. But so does Corey Kluber. There should be no problem with either winning the award. Hopefully, the voters acknowledge the equally fantastic season of the less-known Kluber, allowing the best man to win the coveted award. 

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Sal "The Barber" Maglie Finished Just a Little off the Top in 1956

Ninth in an 11-part series examining the vagaries of awards voting.

Sal Maglie’s 1956 season combines the “Elston Howard factor” of collecting more MVP votes than worthier candidates largely because his team inched out theirs at the finish line with the “‘Indian Bob’ Johnson factor” of a hot stretch drive that stayed fresh in the memory of writers come ballot time.

Maglie enjoyed the double-whammy of earning lots of votes this way in two award races: the National League MVP and the very first Cy Young honor.

Not to paint a picture that Maglie reaped undue reward for a marginal season. On the contrary, he was a key starter who contributed mightily to a pennant winner—but in my opinion, his runner-up finishes for the MVP and Cy Young Award came at the expense of more-deserving candidates.

Sal Maglie’s story is well known: Struggling for several pre-war years in the mid-minors, he went home to work in a defense plant as America mobilized, until finally making his debut with the New York Giants just as the war drew to an end. Three of his five wins came by shutout, including one against the World Series–bound Chicago Cubs.

But nearing his 29th birthday as Opening Day of 1946 approached, Maglie, along with Max Lanier, Mickey Owen, Giants teammate Danny Gardella and more than a dozen other major leaguers, jumped to the Pasquale Brothers’ outlaw Mexican League, nearly aborting his career before it started.

Maglie pitched in Mexico for two seasons under the tutelage of hotheaded Cuban fireballer Dolf Luque, who had enjoyed a successful 20-year NL career, including a 27-win season in 1923.

Luque taught Maglie to be a more aggressive pitcher, soon transforming Maglie into one of the most feared moundsmen in the National League for his eagerness to throw high and inside, resulting in his sobriquet, “The Barber.” (Despite his nasty reputation, however, Maglie hit only 44 batters in his 10-year major league career.)

Temporarily banned from the majors for his outlaw days, Maglie pitched in Canada before returning to the Giants in 1950. Now a well-traveled 33-year-old, he unleashed his talent and temper on National League batters to the tune of an 18-4 record, pacing the NL in ERA, shutouts and winning percentage.

In the Giants’ legendary 1951 campaign, Maglie reached his apex, tying with teammate Larry Jansen for the major league lead in victories, with 23.

His 2.93 ERA claimed second best, and he finished third in strikeouts. In the Shot Heard ‘Round the World game, Maglie surrendered four runs in eight innings but took a no-decision when Ralph Branca spared him the goat’s horns.

Maglie followed 1951 with several more strong seasons, helping New York to a World Series championship in 1954 and remaining one of the hated nemeses of the Brooklyn Dodgers—and their fans—during his tenure in the Polo Grounds. While donning a Giants jersey, Maglie tortured the powerful Bums by taking 23 of 34 decisions.

In 1955, despite ringing up nine victories through July, the defending champs put Maglie on waivers. Quickly claimed by the Cleveland Indians, he hurled a mere 25.2 innings the rest of the season and looked to be near the end of the line.

Five innings into the 1956 campaign, the borough of Brooklyn did a collective double take as their defending champions, slow out of the gate, purchased the reviled Maglie from the Tribe.

During his first two months in Dodger blue, Maglie, used as both a spot starter and a reliever, did little to help Brooklyn’s fortunes, going 2-3 and carrying an ERA above 4.00.

Then, on July 28, The Barber found his groove. (He won his start previous to July 28 but did not pitch well and claimed victory thanks to Brooklyn’s 10-run assault.) Through the end of August, Maglie won four of five decisions, pitched three no-decisions in which he surrendered a total of two earned runs and dropped his ERA from 4.20 to 3.34

As Brooklyn slowly cut into the Milwaukee Braves’ summer-long lead—simultaneously rumbling with the revived Cincinnati Redlegs—Maglie maintained his magic.

On September 11, he went the distance to beat Milwaukee, 4-2, bringing Brooklyn into a tie for first. And in his next start, Maglie gutted out a narrow victory at Crosley Field to raise the Dodgers into the lead for the first time since April.

As Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Cincinnati played tug-of-war for the pennant, Maglie no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on September 25. Although Milwaukee’s easy victory in Cincinnati that day kept Brooklyn from gaining ground, Maglie’s headline-making feat so close to the end of the season surely carried a lot of weight come awards time.

Four days later, his complete-game victory in the opener of a double-header against the Pittsburgh Pirates put Brooklyn one game in the lead for good. (After winning the back end of the double-header, Brooklyn clinched the pennant with a series sweep of Pittsburgh the next afternoon, despite Milwaukee also winning its final game.)

At season’s end, Maglie stood at 13-5, with a 2.87 ERA for Brooklyn—a fantastic ERA while hurling two-thirds of his innings in a home park among the toughest in which to pitch.

There is no doubt that Brooklyn—which edged Milwaukee by a single game and Cincinnati by two—won the pennant largely on the arm of Sal Maglie. From late July onward, Maglie was money—especially during the three-team race of September, when he went 6-1, with a 1.77 ERA.

For his heroics, Maglie finished second to teammate Don Newcombe in both the MVP race and the brand-new Cy Young Award, as Newcombe authored one of the monster seasons of the post-war era: 27-7, 3.06 ERA and a 0.989 WHIP—by far, baseball’s best.

Not to minimize in any way Maglie’s huge contribution to a pennant winner, but of the 11 NL pitchers who received MVP votes, only reliever Clem Labine collected fewer wins. Maglie also pitched the fewest innings of any vote-getting starter.

Especially considering that Don Newcombe and his 27 victories were the true anchor of Brooklyn’s staff—and rightfully rewarded as such—a Dodger who played every day deserved more recognition than Maglie for keeping the Bums churning through a daily dogfight.

How Duke Snider finished a distant tenth in the MVP is a real head-scratcher. Garnering a single first-place vote, the Duke’s vote share lagged well behind not only Maglie, but teammates Jim Gilliam and Pee Wee Reese—a part-time keystone combo having an excellent fielding season, with Gilliam cracking an even .300 and drawing 95 walks.

But Duke carried the biggest stick on an aging team suddenly replaced by Cincinnati as the most potent offense in the league.

Snider paced the Senior Circuit in home runs, walks and OPS, tying with Junior Gilliam for the lead in on-base percentage, all while chasing down fly balls to center field at his usual reliable rate. He also crossed the plate 112 times, second most in the league.

And as Newcombe struggled to clinch the pennant on the schedule’s final day—surrendering six earned runs on 11 Pirates’ hits—it was the Duke who saved Brooklyn’s season, slamming a pair of home runs and driving in four RBI.

Sandy Amoros also clubbed two homers, but Duke’s three-run blast in the bottom of the first set the tone and put Pittsburgh in a hole from which it could not fully emerge before Don Bessent relieved the fatigued Newcome and sealed the pennant.

Of course, no one knew from WAR at the time, but the Duke tied Willie Mays for the NL lead at 7.6. Having topped 130 RBI in the previous two seasons yet driving home “only” 101 in 1956, perhaps voters turned their pens elsewhere based on Duke’s “drop-off” in that coveted stat.

Already a potent lineup, the long-lost Redlegs—who hadn’t seen .500 since 1944—slugged their way from 75 to 91 wins largely on the addition of Frank Robinson.

Enjoying one of the greatest freshman campaigns ever—and copping a unanimous Rookie of the Year honor for it—the gritty Robinson smashed 38 home runs, a record that would stand for 31 seasons.

In doing so, Robinson also helped Cincinnati clout a record-tying 221 home runs. Exhibiting impressive bat discipline for a 20-year-old slugger, Robinson drew 64 walks to go with his solid .290 batting average, which, combined with a league-high 20 hit-by-pitches for the rookie who defiantly dug in against veteran hurlers, led to an NL-best 122 runs scored.

Robinson also tied teammate Ed Bailey for second in OPS, with .936. Considering Cincinnati’s dearth of starting pitching—only Brooks Lawrence chalked up more than 13 victories, and only Joe Nuxhall logged an ERA better than league average—Robinson, in my opinion, had more to do with Cincinnati’s sudden resurgence than any other Redleg.

One can argue that a seventh-place finish on the MVP ballot was amply complemented by the Rookie of the Year honor, but Robinson, a natural-born leader and the highest-scoring player on the highest-scoring team, should have finished higher in the vote.

Interestingly, both Snider and Robinson batted their best against each other as Brooklyn and Cincinnati jockeyed all summer for the inside track. Duke lit up Redlegs hurlers for an even .400 and slugged a monstrous .787, while driving in 18 runs and scoring 23 times in 22 contests.

Nearly matching Duke’s mastery of Cincinnati pitching, the rookie Robinson still bruised Brooklyn for nine homers and .716 slugging, resulting in 13 RBI and 20 runs scored in the same 22 games.

Neither fared well against Milwaukee’s deep and stingy rotation.

Warren Spahn also probably should have ranked higher than Maglie. Arguably the best pitcher on what was, far and away, the best pitching staff in the NL (team ERA of 3.11nearly half a run better than runner-up Brooklyn), Spahn enjoyed a typical Warren Spahn season: 20-11, 2.78 ERA. He led the league in nothing but hurled 90 more innings than Maglie.

Over the course of an entire season, during which Spahn’s Braves spent 83 percent of its schedule within two games, either way, of first place, 90 high-quality innings is a huge difference to overlook.

Milwaukee’s strength on the mound may have actually worked against Spahn at voting time. Lew Burdette spun a season very similar to Spahn statistically (19-10, 2.70 ERA, in 256.1 innings), yet although voters barely took notice of Burdette or 18-game winner Bob Buhl at awards time, Spahn’s 20 wins might have lost some impact among his big-winning teammates.

Of course, had Milwaukee finished a game ahead of Brooklyn, Spahn likely would have received many of the votes that instead went to Maglie.

Unfortunately for Spahn, who went 7-1 and saved one game in September (including a 12-inning complete-game victory on September 13), he took a truly hard-luck loss in Milwaukee’s penultimate game of the season, which dropped the Braves a game behind Brooklyn and allowed the Dodgers to claim the pennant the following afternoon despite Burdette’s 4-2 win in St. Louis.

Tied with Brooklyn with two games to play, Spahn spun a masterful 11 innings, yielding only three hits and one earned run. But Cardinal Herm Wehmeier, an oft-wild thrower with a career mark of 80-100 going into the game, matched Spahn inning for inning.

With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 12th, Spahn yielded a double to Stan Musial. Intentionally walking Ken Boyer to get to Rip Repulski, Repulski ripped a double to left, scoring Musial and giving Brooklyn—busy winning the second game of a double-header against Pittsburgh after Maglie won the opener—a one-game edge going into the season’s final day.

As for the Cy Young Award—which, in 1956, was issued to a single pitcher selected from both leagues—Maglie again placed second to Newcombe. The same argument for Spahn (and Burdette) in the MVP race becomes stronger for this vote. With Newcombe deservedly running away with the inaugural award, Maglie earned four of the remaining six votes, outpacing both Spahn and Whitey Ford.

The ace of the eventual world-champion New York Yankees, Ford went 19-6, with a Major League–topping 2.47 ERA. But the Bronx Bombers peeled away from the rest of the AL in July and coasted to the pennant, so Ford enjoyed none of the hero-making drama of a close race, as did Maglie.

Yet a pitcher superior that season both to Spahn and Ford, let alone Maglie, was completely ignored. Herb Score, coming off a Rookie of the Year effort in 1955, took another step toward the superstardom he’d sadly never reach (see his entry, No. 2, in my series for a fuller explanation).

Flame throwing his way to a 20-9 season, garnished with an AL-high five shutouts and 263 strikeouts—best in the Majors and 71 more than anyone else—Score unfairly went missing at ballot time thanks to an 88-win Cleveland Indians squad made irrelevant by the machine-like Yankees.

As good as was Maglie down Brooklyn’s stretch drive, Score, with his adjusted ERA of 166, pitched at the highest caliber virtually all season.

Pitching in his third—and final—World Series, in 1956, Maglie went the distance in the opener, whiffing 10 Yankees in a 6-3 victory at Ebbets Field. In Game 5, he had the misfortune of pitching against history, as his gutsy eight innings were no match for Don Larsen’s perfection. (Along with the Shot Heard ‘Round the World game, this made Maglie a starting pitcher in perhaps the two most famous contests in baseball annals.)

New York, of course, went on to reclaim the crown Brooklyn had usurped the previous year.

Maglie pitched one more season in Brooklyn, but now 40 years old, the Barber’s days were numbered. He bounced to the Yankees—becoming one of only 14 players who made the stop at all three New York boroughs—before concluding his short but eventful career with the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1958.

Etching a most impressive 119-62 record, with a career ERA 27 percent better than league average, Sal Maglie enjoyed one helluva ride for a guy who didn’t stick in the Majors until age 33.

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Biggest Snubs from 2013 MLB End-Year Award Finalists

It wouldn’t be award season without controversy. After MLB Network unveiled the finalists for baseball’s four prestigious individual honors, the names left off the list are even more compelling.

Next week, the winners of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards, Managers of the Year, Most Valuable Players and Cy Young Awards will be announced. Starting on Monday, Nov. 10, the opportunity to banter about which players ultimately took home the honors, respectively, can be debated all winter long.

For now, though, we take a glance at the players left off the list of finalists, as voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

When the final tally is released, it’s quite possible that all of our biggest snubs will have received at least a vote or two from the BBWAA, but the inability to garner enough votes to be a finalist is egregious for each of the following 2013 stars.

*All statisticians courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

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Will the Tigers Pull off 2013 MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Sweep?

The 2013 Detroit Tigers are a month away from postseason baseball, an excellent bet to repeat as American League champions and a marquee attraction for Major League Baseball’s broadcasting plan down the stretch of the season.

Part of that allure: Star power.

From Justin Verlander to Prince Fielder to Torii Hunter, the current version of the Detroit Tigers are one of the most recognizable groups in recent memory.

When the 2013 season awards are rolled out in early November, they might add some hardware, along with a possible World Series title, to their showcase.

For the first time in the history of the sport, a team could house the league MVP, Cy Young winner and Rookie of the Year. Before you scoff at the notion of the trifecta, consider the claims to the awards by Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and Jose Iglesias, respectively.

First, of course, resides Miguel Cabrera atop the sport and the American League. While a very, very good argument can be made that Mike Trout is baseball’s best all-around player, Cabrera is a virtual lock for the league MVP.

Despite the unlikelihood of a Triple Crown repeat, Cabrera has been significantly better in 2013 than 2012. His OPS, OPS-plus, home run, RBI, and strikeout-to-walk numbers are all either superior or in line to surpass the MVP campaign of 2012. Despite the greatness of Mike Trout, it’s hard to imagine the same writers who voted Cabrera last season having a change of heart when he’s improved.

Furthermore, the notion of giving the award to a player on a winning team fits Cabrera again. While Mike Trout’s team is headed for another season without October baseball, Cabrera’s Tigers are on the path to the postseason.

On the mound, Scherzer has surpassed 2011 MVP/Cy Young winner Justin Verlander as the current ace of Jim Leyland’s staff. While his 19-1 record may hearken back to old-school Cy Young voting and archaic thinking, his peripheral numbers, or, in other words, the numbers that actually matter when valuing individual players, work in his favor as well.

With apologies to Yu Darvish and Chris Sale, the AL Cy Young battle looks to be a two-horse battle between Seattle‘s Felix Hernandez and Scherzer.

If Scherzer‘s gaudy win total (19 to 12) was all that separated him from the former Cy Young winner, the possibility of all three awards in the Motor City would be far-fetched. A quick look at the numbers shows a very close battle, with Detroit’s star earning the upper hand.

While Felix now leads in Fangraphs‘ WAR (5.8-5.4) and innings pitched (194.1-183.1), Scherzer is sporting a lower ERA (2.90-3.01) and a higher K/9 rate (9.87-9.26).

With Scherzer two starts behind (29-27), pitching Tuesday and Hernandez leaving Monday’s start with back cramps, according to MLB.com, there’s an excellent chance that Hernandez’s lead in total WAR and innings thrown won’t be there by the end of September.

Although wins and losses aren’t the deciding factor in Cy Young voting any longer, it’s hard to believe the voters won’t side with Scherzer if he leads or is tied in WAR, innings, ERA and K/9 along with a seven win advantage on their personal ledgers.

Lastly, the American League Rookie of the Year race is, well, dull.

Using Fangraphs‘ WAR, the top five this season pale in comparison to their famous National League counterparts: Cleveland‘s Yan Gomes, Kansas City‘s David Lough, Iglesias, Seattle’s Danny Farquhar and Tampa Bay‘s Wil Myers.

Meanwhile, the NL features this top five: Miami’s Jose Fernandez, Los Angeles’ Yasiel Puig, Colorado‘s Nolan Arenado, New York’s Juan Lagares and Los Angeles’ Hyun-jin Ryu.

When the Tigers traded for Igesias in July, they were proactively filling a hole left by the impending Jhonny Peralta suspension. Now, through the merits of outstanding defense, an above-average OPS-plus and a lackluster rookie class, they might have the American League Rookie of the Year on their hands.

The 2013 Detroit Tigers are on the path to becoming the most decorated team in baseball history.

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2013 NL Cy Young Award: Power Ranking the Candidates Going into the Stretch

While baseball award predictions are usually thwarted by hot Septembers, cold Septembers and injuries, one cannot deny the fun of it.

The 2013 NL Cy Young race is a particularly interesting debate, since they are a few very good hurlers taking the mound every fifth day, but no clear-cut favorite.

There are so many good NL pitchers this season that I knew I would insult a couple candidates by narrowing the field down down to five contestants.

Jordan Zimmerman, Jason Grilli, and Cliff Lee were my final cuts.

So, without further adieu, the 2013 NL Cy Young race, according to Phil…

Begin Slideshow

2013 MLB Cy Young Award Stock Watch Entering June

In a sport dominated by pitching, it’s hard to remember a better time to be invested in the respective Cy Young races.

This a great season if you’re a fan of stellar pitching, as there are a number of frontline starters who have routinely left us in awe. Having to decide on just one Cy Young candidate in each league will be an unenviable task for voters later this year.

Odds are, you don’t have an American or National League Cy Young vote, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy in or sell on several candidates throughout the season.

Here is a stock watch for the AL and NL Cy Young candidates as we enter June.

All statistics are valid through the beginning of play on May 31, and of courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs and MLB.com



1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: 12 GS, 83.1 IP, 87 K, 16 BB, 2.38 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 2.6 WAR

The combination of durability and dominance of the Seattle ace is unique, setting him apart from other pitchers in the majors.

After Thursday afternoon’s gem in San Diego, Hernandez leads all of baseball in innings pitched thus far this season. If he can maintain his workload—along with his sterling ERA—he’ll capture a second Cy Young.

Stock: Up


2. Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers: 11 GS, 71 IP, 89 K, 18 BB, 2.79 ERA, 1.87 FIP, 3.1 WAR

Always known as a good, but not great, pitcher, Sanchez has taken a leap, justifying the five-year, $80 million deal given to him by the Tigers last winter.

While his ERA since 2009 is in the top 25 of all qualified starters, he’s never done it over a 200-inning season.

If Sanchez can stay healthy, he’ll have the chance to do that in 2013 and improve his chances for winning a Cy Young.

Stock: Up


3. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers: 11 GS, 74.1 IP, 105 K, 22 BB, 3.03 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 2.2 WAR

Pitching in Texas may always keep Darvish‘s ERA than his Cy Young competition, but that won’t stop fans and observers from recognizing his dominance.

With a ridiculous combination of pitches, arm angles and speeds, Darvish might be the most athletically pleasing pitcher to watch since Pedro Martinez in his prime.

If he continues on his blistering pace toward upwards of 300 K’s for the season, the Pedro comparisons will just intensify.

Stock: Even


4. Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox: 10 GS, 72.2 IP, 73 K, 27 BB, 1.73 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 2.5 WAR

If this column was written in the 1980s, Buchholz would clearly take the top spot. After all, he’s 8-0 with the best ERA in the AL!

Of course, it’s 2013 and baseball scribes, fans and analysts have come up with more thorough ways to evaluate pitchers than just W-L records and ERA.

That being said, Buchholz‘s peripherals, including a strong 2.53 FIP, spell good things for his season and Cy Young potential.

His stock has fell due to a missed start from the inflammation experienced in his AC joint. If he stays healthy and pitches well this Sunday, this stock will rise. If not, he could fall off the watch by early July. 

Stock: Down


5. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers: 10 GS, 68.1 IP, 81 K, 16 BB, 3.42 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 2.5 WAR

It might seem to some observers that Scherzer is just now putting it all together, finally fulfilling in Detroit the potential he flashed as a rising prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization.

If that’s the narrative surrounding the Tigers’ righty, then the folks promoting it somehow missed out on his dominance over the last calender year.

Since mid-May of 2012, Scherzer ranks among the Top 10 in baseball in ERA, WAR and K/9. In short, he’s been dominant for a while.

If he continues that production for another few months, he could have an award to prove it.

Stock: Up


Just missed the cut: James Shields, Chris Sale, Hiroki Kuroda




1. Matt Harvey, New York Mets: 11 GS, 78 IP, 84 K, 17 BB, 1.85 ERA, 2.27 FIP, 2.5 WAR

It would be easy to say that Harvey is a New York media creation, more hyperbole than substance and the product of a porous Mets team that make his outings look better in theory than reality.

Easy, but far from the truth.

Harvey is the real deal, dominating on the mound since his call up last July on a Monday night in Arizona.

While he’s clearly been more fired up for big games against Stephen Strasburg and the New York Yankees, his dominance over lesser competition—the Marlins, White Sox and Twins—shows his laser like focus from start to start.

Stock: Up


2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals: 11 GS, 80 IP, 74 K, 6 BB, 2.48 ERA, 1.88 FIP, 3.0 WAR

Through the first two months of the 2013 season, Wainwright has posted a 12.33 K/BB ratio. In other words, he’s striking out 12 opposing batters for every one he walks.

If that ratio seems outrageous, it is. In fact, it’s the best mark baseball has seen in the last 20 years. Some names directly below Wainwright on that single-season list for K/BB (since 1994): Saberhagen, Lee, Schilling, Martinez and Maddux.

In case you were wondering, all of them posted pretty decent seasons in those particular years.

Something tells me Wainwright is about to join that group.

Stock: Even


3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: 11 GS, 80.1 IP, 77 K, 21 BB, 1.68 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 2.2 WAR

Full disclosure: Clayton Kershaw has spoiled baseball fans with his young career.

While watching Kershaw throw this season, I’ve found myself expecting more, surprised when he allows a run and wondering when he’s going to turn it up a notch this season.

Then I’m reminded of his 1.68 ERA and WHIP under .90.

We’re watching the start of a very, very special career, folks.

Stock: Even


4. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies: 11 GS, 80.2 IP, 63 K, 13 BB, 2.34 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 2.0 WAR

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has made many questionable decisions during his tenure in Philadelphia.

Reacquiring Lee, after shipping him to Seattle in one of those strange moves, profiles as one of his best achievements.

The strike-throwing left-hander may compete for another Cy Young this year—unless Amaro reverses course, begins an overdue rebuilding process and moves Lee for young talent.

If that move happens, perhaps to an AL contender, Lee’s name would be removed from the list.

Stock: Down


5. A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates: 12 GS, 76 IP, 89 K, 29 BB, 2.72 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.7 WAR

Who? What?!

Yes, that same Alan James Burnett is a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate this season.

If that surprises, this may shock you: He’s not just thriving, but doing it by putting on a 2012 David Price impersonation.

Last year, on his way to the AL Cy Young, David Price finished sixth in ground-ball (GB) percentage and eighth in K/9.

Remarkably, A.J. is bettering that pitching production in 2013. Currently, Burnett leads the NL in K/9 and ranks third in GB percentage.

Stock: Up

Just missed the cut: Patrick Corbin, Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Minor

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