Red Sox: Chris Sale deserved the 2017 AL Cy Young
“Big game” pitcher
The Indians finished the 2017 season ranked second in the majors in terms of OPS (.788), while the Red Sox finished just 22nd (.736).
Why does this matter? Well, it’s a whole lot easier to pitch when you’re staked with a four-run lead.
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Sale faced a total of 930 batters when the game was either tied or within one run and held them to a .539 OPS. Kluber, on the other hand, only faced 704 batters in such a situation and held them to a .581 OPS.
Sale threw to 135 hitters in situations described as high leverage and held them to a .581 OPS; Kluber only threw to 86 and held them to a .666 OPS.
There’s more to what makes up a “big game” pitcher than what they do in the last two months of the season. The notion that a late-season game is more important than an early-season one is flawed; if an early-season loss was turned into a win, that late-season pressure gets alleviated.
A true “big game” pitcher shows up when the individual situation calls for it. A close game in April and a close game in September are both close games and both equally important to the ending win-loss record.
The argument that Kluber was more “clutch” because of his otherworldly final surge is presumptuous, especially given the differing playoff pictures as mentioned earlier.