Tagged: early awards candidates

Early NL Cy Young Candidates: Edition 2

This is the second installment in the Early Cy Young
Candidates NL Series.  For the
first installment, click here

 

The NL Cy Young race is shaping up to be extremly
close.  All five of the contenders
here have a legitimate chance to win the award.  They’re all great, but there’s no pitcher blowing away the
field.

 

1) Danny Haren, RHP, D-backs

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Dan Haren has cooled off a little bit in the second half,
but his peripherals are still amazing. 
Haren’s 2.74 ERA ranks 6th in the league, his 167 strikeouts
are 4th in the NL, he’s tied for second in complete games, and his
0.93 WHIP leads the league.  Haren
has been helped by a low .248 BABIP, but he’s managed to maintain his gaudy
numbers even with his BABIP rising. 
Haren is not only a strikeout pitcher, but a control specialist, he
walks just 1.3 batter per 9
innings.  That, and a
8.6
SO/9 rate, contribute to his
league-leading
6.42 SO/BB
rate.  As I covered in the first
installment, Haren has superb peripherals, but his meaningless 12-8 record,
he’s receiving just 4.5 runs per game in support.  Haren’s record over a full season projects to be 16-11, not
representative of his ability, and unfortunatly, Cy voters won’t care about the
meaningful stats.

 

2) Tim Lincecum, RHP, Giants

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Tiny Tim has set his eyes on back-to-back Cy Youngs.  His numbers will appeal to any
voter.  Lincecum is 12-3 this year,
not that it matters, and has a 2.37 ERA, good for 2nd place in the
NL, and a 1.04 WHIP, good for 3rd in the league.  Lincecum is excellent in all other
categories too.  Look at these
stats, 207 SO, 46 BB, 2.3  BB/9,
10.4 SO/9, 4.50 K/BB ratio.  Oh
yeah, he also leads the league in complete games, and shutouts.  Tim Lincecum dominated in 2008,  he’s even better in 2009.

 

3) Matt Cain, RHP, Giants

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In 2008, Lincecums’s teammate Matt Cain was arguably the
unluckiest pitcher in baseball. 
His numbers were solid, but the Giants scored just 3.12 runs per game in
support of him.  It’s safe to say
his luck has changed in 2009.  Not
only has Cain upgraded hs performance, he’s 12-4, with a 2.43 ERA, and  a 1.15 WHIP, he’s benefited from a low
.258 BABIP, and the Giants have scored a full run more in support of him.  His peripherals aren’t amazing, but he
deserves to be considered along with his teammate.

 

4) Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, Astros

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You can’t say Wandy Rodriguez came out of nowhere, because
this small-market late-bloomer always had talent.  But you can say that he’s put it all together this
year.  Rodriguez has stayed
healthy, and has been more durable than in previous years.  He’s ramped up his strikeouts, and has
pulled down both his ERA, which is a sparkling 2.89, and his WHIP, which is a
servicable 1.25.  Like Cain, Rodriguez,
doesn’t have great peripherals, but he’s a fringe candidate who deserves a
mention.

 

5)  Chris
Carpenter, RHP, Cardinals

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Chris Carpenter has returned to his 2005 form better than
anyone could of dreamed.  Carpenter
is pitching even better than he did in ’05, with a 13-3 record, a 2.27 ERA,
tops in the league, a 0.97 WHIP, 2nd only to Haren, and incredible
durability, averaging a round 7 innings per start.  Carpenter also only gives up 0.5 HR/9 innings, and walks
just 1.3 batters per 9.  Carpenter
has gotten his job done this year and is a main reason why the Cardinals lead
the Cubs by 7 games in the central. 
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  This
race will come down to Carpenter, Lincecum, and Haren.

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Early AL MVP Candidates

1. Jason Bay, LF, Red Sox

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Bay has cooled off somewhat as of late, but still is one of the top hitters in the AL.  He’s among the league leaders in .OBP, Total Bases, .SLG, .OPS, Homeruns, Runs, RBI, and Walks.  Bay is a pure hitter, he supports his team in every category, but generally doesn’t stick out in one particular category.  Bay is similar to Baltimore’s Nick Markakis, in many aspects, as a decent power hitter, with a high .OBP, and who leads, (or previously led, in the case of Bay), an underrated team.  However Bay is a better power hitter than Markakis, and now plays for a big market team.  If Bay sticks out in so called “important categories”, such as homers, and RBI’s, he will enthrall voters, if he doesn’t…, then, well he won’t…
2. Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins

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Morneau was somewhat of a suprise MVP winner in 2006, beating out Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz in a close vote.  Morneau then came in second in 2008 to Dustin Pedroia, even though he had a sub-par season.  Morneau is the kind of gritty ballplayer that is always on the field, and is a perennial MVP candidate.  Morneau is at the top of his league in Total Bases, and .SLG, and also is near the top in .OBP, RBI’s, Homeruns, every major hitting category.  This could be the year that he reaches 40 homeruns.  If he keeps this up, he wins the MVP.
3. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays

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A No. 3 draft pick, and a top prospect, Longoria burst onto the scene in 2008, making the All-Star Game, and winning the rookie of the year.  Longoria leads the AL in doubles, and RBI’s, and is among the leaders in .SLG, Hits, Runs, Total Bases, .OPS, and Homeruns.  I see this MVP race coming down to the underrated Morneau, and Longoria.  The one concern that I see about Longoria, is that he is striking out more than he did last year, almost once a game. He’ll get some bonus publicity if he leads the Rays back for The Miracle Rays 2.
4. Why I am not including Kevin Youkilis

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Youkilis is an on-base +slugging monster, who pounds the ball, but hadn’t discovered power until last season.  While he definetly be in the top 5 on my ballot, his power numbers sadly won’t appeal to the actual voters.

Early NL Cy Young Candidates

Sorry, I didn’t have internet access yesterday, so no post.  On to the NL’s top pitchers…

1. LHP Johan Santana, Mets

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Santana had some bad run support at the start of the season, but has put up stellar numbers none the less.  He leads the NL in Strikeouts (86), and Wins (7), he is second in ERA (1.77), and fourth in WHIP (1.09).  He should maintain these rates, as is BABIP is average.  Santana is one of the best pitchers in baseball, yet he manages to be underrated; maybe fans are just taking this production for normal.  They certainly have a right to, Santana is the frontrunner for the NL Cy Young.
2. RHP Josh Johnson, Marlins

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Josh Johnson is one of many pitchers who have Cy Young talent, but just can’t stay healthy.  He’s among the league leaders in ERA (2.67), WHIP (1.10), Strikeouts (59), and Innings Pitched (67.1).  He has an average BABIP.  Durability will be the number one concern for Johnson, he just can’t seem to stay healthy.
3. RHP Dan Haren, D-backs

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I’ll start this off by saying that Dan Haren won’t win the Cy Young.  Then why am I including him?  Simply this, Dan Haren has excellent peripherals, a 2.57 ERA, a league-leading 0.91 WHIP, he averages 7 IP per start, he strikes out a batter an inning, hardly ever gives up a walk, and leads the NL in SO/BB rate.  His BABIP is on the low side, so his ERA and WHIP will go up, but he will still dominate.  If I could choose one pitcher to build a team around, Haren would be a top possibility.  Than what’s his problem?  The D-backs have a poor offense.  What’s that got to do with anything?  Haren has received no run support, in fact, he has a losing record.  He won’t win the Cy Young, because he won’t put up a flashy, (and meaningless), win total on the D-backs.  Danny Haren deserves much better.
4. RHP Chad Billingsley, Dodgers

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I consider Chad Billingsley a darkhorse candidate for the Cy Young, he will catch voters’ attentions with gaudy win totals, produced not by Billingsley, but by the Dodgers offense.  Billingsley has received an average of almost 6 runs per game in support, he’s not a Dan Haren.  Billingsley has a good 2.67 ERA, and a solid 1.19 WHIP, he also has a BABIP a sliver on the high side.  Billingsley rarely gives up homeruns, but his glaring weakness, not illustrated by his WHIP, is walks, he walks 4 batters per 9 innings, he offsets this somewhat, by striking out a batter an inning.

Haren has the best peripherals, Billingsley has undeserved win totals, Santana has the “dominate” numbers that voters will look for.

Early AL Cy Young Candidates

Today, I am going to examine the three leading candidates for the AL Cy Young Award, but first…

  • Another Day, Another Mets Injury

This was the Mets’ lineup last night, Angel Pagan CF, Luis Castillo 2B, David Wright 3B, Gary Sheffield LF, Fernando Tatis 1B, , Fernando Martinez RF, Omir Santos C, Ramon Martinez SS, Livan Hernandez P.  Besides Daniel Murphy getting the night off, starters Brian Schneider (C), Carlos Delgado (1B), Jose Reyes (SS), Ryan Church (RF), and the newest starter to go down, Carlos Beltran, (CF).



  • Early American League Cy Young Candidates
  1. RHP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays

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Halladay matches up almost completely with another Cy Young candidate, the Royals’ Zack Greinke.  Halladay is tied with Greinke in Wins (8), Winning Percentage (.889), and Innings Pitched (75.0).  However, Halladay is second in ERA, WHIP, Complete Games, and Shutouts, in all of which he is second to Greinke.  Halladay has Cy Young caliber numbers, and if Greinke fell over the edge of the Earth, Halladay would win easily.

2. RHP Justin Verlander, Tigers

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Just one year after leading the league in losses, Verlander has seemingly rediscovered his strikeout power that enabled him to be the 2006 AL Rookie Of The Year, and one of the top 5 pitchers in the AL in 2007.  Verlander even has a flukily high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) working against him, and has surely contributed to his 3.55 ERA.  Verlander’s strikeout numbers will appeal to the average awards voter, but right now, this race is between Halladay, and Greinke.

3. RHP Zack Greinke, Royals

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What is there to say about Greinke?  Through 10 starts he has an ERA under 1, he leads the majors in every major statistical category; if voting was today, he’d win the Cy Young easily, and maybe the MVP award as well.