With the announcement of the two league Cy Young Award winners scheduled for later today, we asked our writers: who would you choose to win the award?
AL: Corey Kluber of Cleveland. The sexy choice is Felix Hernandez, but the numbers are very favorable for Kluber in a “King Felix” matchup, as they almost mirror each other right down to win probability and WAR. To me the Mariners staff was slightly better than the Indians and the M’s had the best bullpen in the league and that can be a tad bit of an advantage to a starter. That might also be why Hernandez notched 15 wins to Kluber’s 18. If Chris Sale had 34 starts he might have sneaked in above Kluber and Hernandez.
NL: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Is there any doubt? The comparison to Sandy Koufax are real and justifiable. Right across the board Kershaw stands out. This should be unanimous. Now if they included the playoff performance it could be a different story.
Conor Duffy: Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw
AL: The 28 year old Hernandez has had a phenomenal career thus far as he has a career 3.07 ERA and 125-92 record in his ten-year career, including the 2010 Cy Young Award. Even considering his prior success though, it’s very easy to make the argument that 2014 was his strongest season yet. In 34 starts for the Mariners, King Felix posted a microscopic 2.14 ERA, the lowest of his career, to go with 9.46 K/9 and 1.75 BB/9 and generally excellent peripheral stats. Even after such an excellent season, Hernandez still barely edges the Indians’ Corey Kluber, but the rightful winner of the 2014 Cy Young should be King Felix.
NL: There shouldn’t be any debate here. Much like Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw has had an incredible career that has been marked by two Cy Young Awards and four consecutive ERA titles at the prime age of 26, but Kershaw still managed to turn in the strongest season of his career to date. Kershaw complemented his 21-3 record and 1.77 ERA with the strongest peripherals of his career, highlighted by the highest K/9 (10.8) and the lowest BB/9 (1.4) of his career. There’s really no contest with anybody else in the National League as, despite missing five starts, Kershaw’s 7.2 WAR was two full points above Jordan Zimmermann‘s second-place total of 5.2.
Drew Peabody: Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw
AL: Felix Hernandez might have been the first pitcher to win a Cy Young based on his peripherals, such as hits per nine innings and strikeouts rather than number of wins (only 13 on one occasion). Though Hernandez has a better ERA, Corey Kluber should win the award based on the same kind of analysis that benefitted Felix before. Though Kluber’s 2.44 ERA exceeds Felix’ 2.14, Kluber has the advantage 2.35 to 2.56 in FIP which takes into account park factors, BABIP (avg. balls in play) and fielding, making it potentially a more accurate measure of effectiveness. Kluber also leads in wins (old-school) and strikeouts by 21 in the same number of innings. Neither pitcher will have an argument if the other one wins the award though.
NL: Clayton Kershaw is likely going to win the NL Cy Young unanimously. Kershaw led the NL in wins with 21 (despite missing five starts), strikeouts per nine innings, strikeouts per walk, ERA, FIP and WHIP. Johnny Cueto won 20 and led the NL in hits allowed per nine innings, but his FIP was 3.30, which is remarkable considering his 2.25 ERA. Kershaw’s FIP was 1.81 compared to a 1.77 ERA. Aside from that one peripheral stat, Kershaw was superior in every way, meaning he will win the award.
Joe Meehan: Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw
AL: I wanted to go Kluber here, but my gut tells me it’s going to be Hernandez. Sometimes the sexy pick is too hard to resist. And at least in this case it’s not like a Gold Glove award, where they’d just give Hernandez the Cy Young because he’s the bigger name. He actually put up one of the best seasons of his career and almost helped the Mariners get into the playoffs. He’s a workhorse and this certainly won’t be the last Cy Young he brings home.
NL: Kershaw is bringing this award home. Because of his poor postseason performance, many people seem to be forgetting just how dominant he was all season. He went 18-1 to finish the season, which includes a 0.82 ERA in six June starts. He compiled 239 strikeouts compared to only 31 walks. Without him, the Dodgers probably don’t make the playoffs. Not only is he my Cy Young winner, he’s also my MVP (hint, hint for tomorrow’s post).