Who Should Win the Cy Young Awards? Who Will?

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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Cy Young Awards. 

The Cy Young races are easily the least clear-cut of them all. Neither league has a perfect candidate. Or for that matter, imperfect candidates who nonetheless look like Cy Young winners past of present. As such, the Cy Young Awards will likely be the least predictable honor handed out in November. Not that we won’t guess now.

Who should win the AL Cy Young Award?

There were so few overwhelmingly obvious candidates during the bulk of the season that people started entertaining the notion of giving the award to a closer, Zach Britton. Maybe even giving him the MVP Award. The world wouldn’t end if that happened, but that’s all a bit too much for us. Since that discussion peaked, three starting pitchers have emerged as favorites, at least to the extent there is anything close to a favorite in this race: Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander.

Porcello’s basic line looks the most like a Cy Young winner’s: he’s 22-4 with a 3.11 ERA. Kluber has fewer wins — he’s 18-9 — but his ERA is about the same. More importantly, he has struck out 44 more batters in two fewer innings and has given up fewer hits and has an edge in Fielding Independent Pitching stats. Verlander’s case has, somehow, flown under the radar, but the former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner has put up an outstanding campaign as well, pitching more innings and striking out more batters than either Porcello or Kluber. WAR is sort of all over the place, with Baseball-Reference.com’s WAR putting Kluber ahead of Verlander at the top with Porcello a distant sixth, while Fangraphs’ version of it has Chris Sale in the top spot with Porcello at two, Kluber at three and Verlander fourth. So, eh.

Ultimately, we tend to favor guys who strike batters out, even if that’s fascist, so the three of us are leaning this way:

Craig: Kluber
Bill: Kluber
Ashley: Verlander

 

Who will win the AL Cy Young Award? 

I feel like it’ll go to Porcello. As explained above, he won’t be some empty, wins-heavy candidate — his walk rate, a fantastic 1.24 per nine innings, is the second lowest in the AL and his FIP is second best in the league — but the wins will help. As will his story, having put together his best season ever in a year when the Red Sox had all kinds of questions about their rotation heading into the season. He’s a fine choice and, if he wins, no one should get bent out of shape about it.

 

Who should win the NL Cy Young Award?

For the first half of the season there was no suspense to this whatsoever. It was Clayton Kershaw‘s award to lose and he was on his way to winning it unanimously. Then he got hurt and missed a couple of months and will finish the season with only 21 starts and fewer than 150 innings. They’ve been fantastic innings — he’s got a 1.65 ERA and one of the lowest walk rates you’ll ever see — but to win a Cy Young award with only 2/3 of a season is a tough trick even if your rate stats are two or three times better than the next guy’s. Half of life is showing up, as they say, and Kershaw was physically unable to show up for a good chunk of the year.

That leaves two or three others. Kyle Hendricks has gotten the most heat of late, having pushed his ERA below the magical 2.00 level, which awards voters tend to think of as some sort of reverse Mendoza line for pitchers. A Maddux line? Sure, why not. He’s pitched far fewer innings than some of the other leaders — 185, with one more start scheduled — and much lower than your typical Cy Young winner, even in this modern age.

Max Scherzer has a big edge in bWAR, but is only third over at Fangraphs. He has a commanding lead in total strikeouts. He doesn’t lead in strikeout rate, however, as the late Jose Fernandez was more dominant in that regard (Fernandez, incidentally, is second in FIP and second in fWAR, and will likely get a good number of Cy Young votes based on both merit and sentiment). Jon Lester‘s 19 wins, matching Scherzer’s, will get him some consideration. Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner will get some votes too, as the aces for a couple of teams that should be in the playoffs, though the Giants’ second half slide will hurt MadBum’s chances.

Another split decision:

Craig: Scherzer
Bill: Hendricks
Ashley: Scherzer

 

Who will win the NL Cy Young Award? 

Hendricks, we suspect. As long as he doesn’t get blown up in his final start, I suppose. If he keeps the ERA under 2.00, I figure he’ll win it by a comfortable margin. The voters are better than they used to be, but sometimes it’s hard to avert one’s gaze from shiny things.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.