Max Scherzer

HBT First-Half Awards: National League Cy Young


With no baseball on Wednesday or Thursday, we’re taking stock of the best performances of the first half of the season by handing out midseason awards. Maybe someday we’ll have the budget for an actual Midseason Award Trophy, but for now they merely get our kind and admiring words. Next up: National League Cy Young Award.

Craig Calcaterra‘s ballot:

1. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
2. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Zack Greinke is making some ERA history at the moment, what with his microscopic 1.39 ERA. In terms of ERA+ — which adjusts for park and era and compares him with other pitchers in the league — Greinke is at an astounding 265. To put that in perspective, the year Bob Gibson set the modern ERA record for starters with a 1.12 mark, his ERA+ was 258. Greinke also leads the NL in pitching WAR, by a wide margin pursuant to the folks at and a smaller margin by the guys at FanGraphs.

Still, ERA ain’t perfect, even if Greinke’s margin in that category is pushing a full run over A.J. Burnett and Max Scherzer. And, quibble with me if you want as I am not a hardcore stats guy, but pitching WAR always gets a bit of the side eye from me.

That’s why I’m going with Max Scherzer. A guy who while “only” posting an ERA of 2.11 has a better WHIP, better strikeout ratios, better fielding independent pitching numbers and a lower opponent’s batting average than Greinke and just about everyone else. He has an astounding strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10.71 which, if it holds, will be one of the best marks in that category in history. Scherzer leads the NL in innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and batters faced as well. To me he’s the clear choice, even with that microscopic Greinke ERA.

Kershaw? Well, I feel like it’s a two-horse race here and I figured the third horse may as well be the guy leading the league in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He also leads the league in xFIP while coming in second in FIP. The guy has pitched in some bad luck, especially dingers-wise. If that’s not good enough, I have him here so you deadenders who insist that he doesn’t “have what it takes” in the playoffs or some such can get mad.

Aaron Gleeman‘s ballot:

1. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
3. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

There are definitely other compelling arguments to be made–for Max Scherzer leading the league in innings pitched and having the best all-around numbers, or for Clayton Kershaw being the best pitcher on the planet and leading the league in strikeouts. Ultimately, though, I’m a simple man and when someone goes into the All-Star break with the best first-half ERA by any starting pitcher since 1968 they get my vote.

Zack Greinke’s secondary numbers aren’t as good as his historic ERA, but they’re pretty damn good and his ERA is 1.39. One-thirty-nine. Greinke also ranks second to Scherzer in innings pitched and opponents’ batting average, is currently riding a 35.2-inning scoreless streak, and blows away the competition in Win Probability Added. I think there’s a strong chance Scherzer will wind up being the most deserving pitcher at the end of the season, but in the meantime I’ll ride with Greinke.

Alex Gordon and Yadier Molina win Platinum Glove Awards

platinum glove award

The fourth-annual Rawlings Platinum Glove Awards were announced last night, recognizing the best defensive player in each league. Royals left fielder Alex Gordon took home the honors for the American League while Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina won the award for the National League.

Only those won the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were eligible for the Platinum Glove Award. The winners were determined by a combination of a fan vote and SABR’s Defensive Index metric.

Mark Newman of writes that Gordon finished with 21.6 percent of the vote in the AL, topping teammate Salvador Perez (15.9 percent) and Dustin Pedroia (13.2 percent). Things were a bit closer in the National League, as Molina got 20.6 percent vote, just ahead of Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (17.7 percent), and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (15.5).

This is Molina’s third Platinum Glove Award in the four-year history of the award. Simmons won for the National League last year.

Casey McGehee, Chris Young win Comeback Player of the Year Awards

casey mcgehee getty

The Comeback Player of the Year Award: the one award you never want to have to be a candidate for and, if you are, the award you never want to win twice.

Major League Baseball has announced its Comeback Players of the year: Casey McGehee of the Marlins and Chris Young of the Mariners.

McGehee took the go-away-and-then-return route to winning the award, spending last year with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. This year he was excellent, hitting .287 with 29 doubles, four home runs, 76 RBI and 56 runs scored. Young didn’t pitch at all in the majors in 2013 but came back to go 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA over 30 games.

Good job guys. Here’s hoping you’re never serious candidates for the award again.