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
1) Danny Haren, RHP, D-backs
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
2) Tim Lincecum, RHP, Giants
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
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
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
Carpenter, RHP, Cardinals
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.
race will come down to Carpenter, Lincecum, and Haren.
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
- RHP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
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
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
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.