Midseason AL Cy Young Award

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It was the easiest call of all of the awards when we looked back one-third of the way through the year, but things have tightened up a bit since, as Zack Greinke is no longer sporting a 1.10 ERA.

Here’s the top 10 in ERA:

1. Zack Greinke – 2.12 ERA in 127 1/3 IP
2. Edwin Jackson – 2.52 ERA in 121 2/3 IP
3. Felix Hernandez – 2.53 ERA in 124 2/3 IP
4. Roy Halladay – 2.85 ERA in 123 IP
5. Jarrod Washburn – 2.96 ERA in 112 1/3 IP
6. Nick Blackburn – 3.06 ERA in 123 1/3 IP
7. Dallas Braden – 3.12 ERA in 112 1/3 IP
8. Jered Weaver – 3.22 ERA in 120 1/3 IP
9. Josh Beckett – 3.35 ERA in 121 IP
10. Justin Verlander – 3.38 ERA in 122 1/3 IP

And the top 10 in VORP:

1. Zack Greinke – 45.5
2. Edwin Jackson – 39.9
3. Felix Hernandez – 39.3
4. Roy Halladay – 39.0
5. Cliff Lee – 34.3
6. Jered Weaver – 33.3
7. Jarrod Washburn – 32.8
8. Kevin Millwood – 31.7
9. Nick Blackburn – 29.9
10. Justin Verlander – 29.3

I think that VORP gives us a better list than ERA in this case,
particularly in the way that it separates the top four from the rest of
the pack.

Now let’s try to remove fielding from the equation with FIP:

1. Zack Greinke – 2.06
2. Justin Verlander – 2.69
3. Roy Halladay – 2.96
4. Felix Hernandez – 3.04
5. Jon Lester – 3.32
6. Cliff Lee – 3.34
7. Josh Beckett – 3.36
8. Dallas Braden – 3.44
9. Edwin Jackson – 3.52
10. Carl Pavano – 3.70

I don’t really trust FIP very much, but there’s a lot here that I
agree with. Verlander hasn’t been more valuable to the Tigers than
Jackson, but maybe he could have been under different circumstances.
Lester ran into a lot of tough luck early on, yet he’s pitching as well
as anyone in the league right now. Pavano… well, color me skeptical
about that one.

So, Greinke is still the clear No. 1, even though he has a 3.97 ERA
since the beginning of June. After that, it’s three pitchers for two
spots: Jackson, Hernandez and Halladay. Halladay has an advantage in
that he’s allowed just two unearned runs, compared to six apiece for
Jackson and King Felix. Halladay has also faced the tougher schedule:
his opposing batters have had a 761 OPS, compared to 756 for Jackson
and 749 for Hernandez. I think that gets him the second spot. The
remaining place on the ballot goes to Jackson. While FIP believes he’s
been helped a great deal by the players behind him, the Tigers aren’t
nearly as strong defensively as the Mariners or Blue Jays. He’s also
gotten less assistance from his bullpen.

AL Cy Young

1. Greinke
2. Halladay
3. Jackson

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.