First-quarter awards: AL Cy Young

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doug fister throwing.jpgNo Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander or Jon Lester here.
We’ll turn to VORP again here to give us a top 10 list:
1. Doug Fister – 21.4 – 3-2, 1.96 ERA, 25/10 K/BB in 55 IP
2. Shaun Marcum – 20.0 – 3-1, 2.61 ERA, 45/14 K/BB in 62 IP
3. David Price – 19.4 – 6-1, 1.81 ERA, 44/20 K/BB in 54 2/3 IP
4. Andy Pettitte – 18.7 – 5-0, 1.79 ERA, 29/16 K/BB in 45 1/3 IP
5. Matt Garza – 18.7 – 5-1, 2.38 ERA, 48/17 K/BB in 56 2/3 IP
6. John Danks – 18.4 – 3-3, 2.26 ERA, 45/16 K/BB in 55 2/3 IP
7. Jeff Niemann – 16.4 – 3-0, 2.54 ERA, 31/16 K/BB in 49 2/3 IP
8. Ricky Romero – 16.4 – 4-1, 2.88 ERA, 59/21 K/BB in 56 1/3 IP
9. Phil Hughes – 16.0 – 5-0, 2.25 ERA, 42/15 K/BB in 44 IP
10. C.J. Wilson – 15.7 – 3-1, 2.55 ERA, 39/19 K/BB in 53 IP
Yeah, matches my preseason rankings exactly.
Relievers worth adding to the mix include Jose Valverde (0.51 ERA, 10 saves in 11 chances) and Rafael Soriano (1.59 ERA, 10 saves in 10 chances).
By ERA, Pettitte has been the AL’s top pitcher. However, he’s made just seven starts and he ranks 15th in WHIP.
The league WHIP leaders are Fister at 0.91 and Marcum at 0.97, with Hughes, Jason Vargas and Dallas Braden right behind at 0.98.
Unlike in the NL, strength of schedule isn’t much of a factor here:
Fister – 720 OPS against
Marcum – 730
Price – 731
Pettitte – 715
Garza – 717
Danks – 731
Niemann – 730
Romero – 698
Hughes – 741
Wilson – 733
I think Hughes has been the American League’s best pitcher so far, but like Pettitte, he’s made seven starts, while the competition has made eight or nine. And he’s not far enough out in front to make up for the gap in innings.
Fister has miraculously limited hitters to a .203 average despite striking out just 25 batters in 55 innings. He’s getting a ton of help from a top-notch defense. Safeco Field is playing a part as well; 70 percent of Fister’s innings have come at home.
Marcum is getting less help from his defense and his ballpark. Plus, like Fister, he’s yet to allow an unearned run. Still, while I’m not big on win-loss records, it is disappointing that he’s won just one-third of his starts despite decent run support.
Price is the only AL starter with six wins. He’s yet to allow more than three runs in a start. The Rays scored a total of three runs in his loss and no-decision. He has allowed three unearned runs, but they all came in wins.
This just isn’t an easy call. And none of the pitchers under consideration now are close to sure things to be in the mix at season’s end. I’m going with Price, in large part because of his innings advantage over Hughes. I wouldn’t argue against Fister, though. While his defense has shouldered much of the load, he’s been ridiculously effective.
First-quarter AL Cy Young Award
1. Price
2. Hughes
3. Fister

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: