Yesterday I tackled the NL Cy Young Race, so for the purpose of symmetry it only made sense that I would address the AL situation. Being someone who likes a completed circle as much as the next guy, here is my take on the Junior Circuit’s race for the top pitcher of the year award.
While there were three men up for the award in the NL, I see a field of five men vying for the award this season in the AL. I’ll give each guys numbers and then add a few thoughts why the are deserving, and not deserving, of the award.
16-8, 2.16 ERA, 242 K 1.07 WHIP in 229.1 IP
Reasons for: Led the AL In ERA and WHIP while finishing second in Ks, fifth in IP and second in batting average against (.230). Also posted a tremendous 4.75 K/BB mark. He also showed an amazing ability to remain consistent posting virtually identical numbers before (2.12 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) and after (2.21 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) the All-Star game.
Reasons against: He won only 16 games for a team that won only 65 contests.
17-10, 2.79 ERA, 208 K, 1.13 WHIP in 239 IP
Reasons for: Third in the league in ERA and second in WHIP. Halladay was also second in innings (one behind Verlander), though he still led the circuit in complete games (nine) and shutouts (four). That total of CGs is more than the total of seven posted by Verlander, Sabathia and Hernandez. He had a hiccup in August (2-4, 4.71 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) but was great in September (4-2, 1.47 ERA, 1.04 WHIP).
Reasons against: His team wasn’t as bad as Greinke’s Royals, but the Jays won just 75 games. Plus, as good as his numbers were, there were others who were better in almost all categories except for CGs.
19-5, 2.49 ERA, 217 K, 1.14 WHIP in 238.2 IP
Reasons for: Tied for the league lead with 19 victories and finished third in innings pitched. Pretty quietly he also came in second in ERA, third in WHIP and fourth in strikeouts while leading the league with a .227 BAA. Was also fantastic in both the first (9-3, 2.53 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) and second (10-2, 2.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) half.
Reasons against: No one ever sees him pitch since he is on the Mariners. Will he be punished because his team was barely better than average (85 victories) and because people on the east coast rarely stay up late enough to watch him pitch?
19-8, 3.37 ERA, 197 K, 1.15 WHIP in 230 IP
Reasons for: Pitches for the Yankees and lead the league with 19 victories. Third in the league in BAA (.232), fourth in ERA, fourth in WHIP and seventh in strikeouts.
Reasons against: Sure he led the league in victories and gave the Yankees all they hoped for when they back up the money truck, but his numbers, other than the wins, just don’t measure up to the others.
19-9, 3.45 ERA, 269 K, 1.18 WHIP in 240 IP
Reasons for: Led the majors with 269 Ks while his innings pitched total also paced all of baseball. He was also very effective in both the first (10 wins, 3.39 ERA, 1.19 WHP) and second half (nine wins, 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) showing season long dominance.
Reasons against: Had a great bounce back season and no one was more dominating, but at the same time his ratios were a bit behind the others.
So how do I rank these guys? Just like in the NL, I think the choice is obvious.
5. Sabathia – Too much attention given to wins and being a Yankee.
4. Verlander – Ks and innings are great, but not good enough.
3. Halladay – He was a lot better than most give him credit for.
2. Hernandez – In many other years he would be the choice.
1. Greinke – The most dominating hurler in the league, period.
By Ray Flowers