Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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MLB Midseason Award Winners: Cy Young

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There was no baseball yesterday. There is no baseball today. There will be baseball tomorrow, but not until 7:05 PM, so it’s basically three days without anyone throwing a pitch in anger. Let’s kill the time, then, by arguing about who, if the season ended today, would be your award winners. Next up: the Cy Young Award

AL CY Young Award

Chris Sale is the best answer in my book. And probably everyone else’s. He leads the AL in strikeouts and innings pitched. He’s second in ERA, but not by much. He has the best WHIP. He’s second in wins if you’re into that sort of thing, and and he’s allowed only two earned runs in 22 innings in his three no-decisions. He’s allowing fewer hits per nine innings than any other qualified starter in the AL. If you wanna go with the narrative, he’s doing it in Boston which has historically not been kind to big name newcomers. People will credit him for toughness for that, even though that whole Boston thing makes me roll my eyes.

Jason Vargas is has made a lot of headlines in the first half. He leads in ERA, ERA+ and wins. He also trails Sale by a full 100 strikeouts. Smoke and mirrors. Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers have been good, though all have missed time. Really, though, Sale has been the best pitcher in the American League and that’s what this is all about.

NL Cy Young Award

What kind of crazy is it that people can, reasonably, say that Clayton Kershaw is having a “down” year when he’s on pace to go 25-4 with a 2.18 ERA and 286 strikeouts? We’re spoiled, frankly. We don’t deserve him. He’s the best pitcher since Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens roamed the Earth in their primes. Before he’s done he’ll be among the best to ever play the game. He’s already there, really.

Still, Max Scherzer has had a better half. He’s been damn nigh historic, in fact, leading Kershaw by a full win in WAR, which is almost hard to get your mind around. He’s on pace for 318 strikeouts in 236 innings. His rate stats are astounding, as he’s allowing only 5.1 hits per nine innings and is striking out 12.1 batters per nine. Opponents are batting just .163 with a .514 OPS against him. He leads the NL in FIP, ERA, ERA+ complete games, strikeouts, WHIP, hit rate and K rate, all while being a total workhorse, trailing only Kershaw in innings pitched.