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And the Cy Young Awards go to ...
November 15, 2012 - Andy Heintz
This year’s American League and National League Cy Young Awards were easily the toughest decision I have had to make during this whole series of ML awards. There is a reason why the AL Cy Young was the closer race ever. And the NL race wasn’t any easier to breakdown. If one man led in ERA, another pitcher had more wins and more strikeouts. You truly have to decide what you are going to value and go from there because any one of the top three or four could have won this award and I would have no issues with it. Here is my breakdown of both Cy Young Awards…
American League Cy Young Award
3. Fernando Rodney
I cannot get past what this closer accomplished this season. I know Jered Weaver and Chris Sale had big seasons and you could put either one of them in this spot and I wouldn’t complain. However, Rodney was second in the league in saves at 48 and had just two blown saves all season. His ERA is the best among any closer at 0.60 and it’s not even close. He had 76 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched and opponents batted just 0.167 against him. I know most baseball fans don’t like relief pitchers taking over this category, but it is hard to overlook what he did.
2. Justin Verlander
I think Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the game, but this season he did not have the best season. He only won 17 games and lost eight, which are the fewest amount of wins and most losses among other Cy Young contenders. He was second in ERA at 2.64, but he also led the league with 239 strikeouts, 238 innings pitched and six complete games. He also had a better WHIP and a better opponent’s batting average than my Cy Young pick. But I think in the grand scheme of things, he had a better team around him and should have won much more games, especially since he won six more games last season with an inferior team behind him.
1. David Price
The Tampa Bay Rays have always had something special in Price, and this year he was the best pitcher in the regular season. His 2.56 ERA led the league and he was 20-5 on the season. He was only one of two pitchers who won 20 games this season with the other one being Weaver. He had four less complete games than Verlander but complete games can be a product of a manager’s preference to keep starters in longer. The innings pitched and strikeouts for Price were not that far behind Verlander and neither was WHIP or opponent’s batting average. It came down to me putting more emphasis on wins and ERA and nobody was better than Price in those two categories.
NL Cy Young Award
3. Clayton Kershaw
Last night when I had heard Kershaw was third in the Cy Young voting over guys like Johnny Cueto and Matt Cain and Craig Kimbrel I was stunned. I just didn’t think he had that strong of a year. Chalk this one up as a mistake on my part. Kershaw only had 14 wins – mainly because his team’s offense stunk most of the year – but he led the ML in ERA at 2.53 and was third in the ML in strikeouts with 229. He also had the top WHIP in the NL at 1.02 and opponent’s hit just .226 off him. The 14-9 record was the main reason he did not win another Cy Young, but he still had a great season. Cueto and Gonzalez were great but their numbers don’t stack up to the other three contenders.
2. Craig Kimbrel
I am going to do it again. I cannot get past what the ML’s best closer did this season. Kimbrel was straight up nasty and the most consistent thing about an inconsistent Braves team. His 42 saves led the NL and he only had 3 blown saves, which was three less than the other closer who had 42 saves (Jason Motte). The ERA is right where you like to see dominant closers at 1.01 and he had 116 strikeouts in 62-plus innings pitched. And no that is not a typo – nearly two per inning. He also kept opponents to an ice cold .126 batting average.
1. R.A. Dickey
The most impressive things about Dickey’s season is how he did it – with a knuckleball. Who wins 20 games with a knuckleball? It’s just not supposed to happen, just ask Tim Wakefield. The 20-6 record was the best win percentage in the NL and his 230 strikeouts also were tops in the National League. His WHIP was just a shade behind Kershaw but opponents hit only .210 against him, which only trailed Gonzalez’s .206 among other starters in contention for the award. Another impressive stat that often gets overlooked is the fact that he won 20 games for a team that finished in fourth place in the division and 24 games out of first place. We may never see this kind of season out of him again, which is the biggest reason why he has to be rewarded for his accomplishments.
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