The race for AL Cy Young is down to three pitchers. Detroit Tiger Max Scherzer, Texas Ranger Yu Darvish and Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez all have their cases for the top pitching award but only one can take home the hardware. Scherzer boasts a 19-1 record, a surefire winner in 1992. Darvish is the only man who currently has over 200 strikeouts and Felix Hernandez has led the league in ERA for the better part of the season. All three could take home the award but only one will and I’ll explain why each of them should and why each should be snubbed.
Max Scherzer: The 19-1 record speaks for itself. The man knows how to lead his team to victory…or does he? The “Win” statistic is quickly losing its credibility as statisticians, writers and even fans are starting to realize that it doesn’t mean much in terms of how well the man plays his position. You can go out and give up six runs in five innings, a terrible start, and get the victory because your team scored 10 runs in the same span. On the contrast, you can pitch a complete game and lose 1-0. Your record will be 0-1 but you had a significantly better start than the first pitcher. Scherzer bucks this idea pretty hard. He’s only given up five runs twice and four runs three times. Take those games away and he still has 15 wins, more than both Darvish and Hernandez who have 12 each. His string of strong starts since July 13 have lowered his ERA from 3.19 to 2.73 and opposing hitters are only batting .190 against him on the season. Barring an incredible collapse, Scherzer should take home the Cy Young, especially if he’s the only one with 20 wins, a mark that any voter over 40 sees as the trump card, and though I wholeheartedly disagree, I don’t have a vote. I snub Scherzer because Darvish has way more strikeouts and Felix has a lower ERA.
Felix Hernandez: The previous winner of the three, taking home the award in 2010 with a 12-10 record. That should tell you how much the “Win” doesn’t matter anymore. King Felix has been unbelievably consistent during his major league career and although that doesn’t matter when looking at the course of 2013, a strong track record helps his cause. Not only does he boast a league-leading 2.63 ERA, he’s also the AL leader in innings pitched, pacing for yet another 200+ inning campaign. His durability and consistency will make Mariners fans cry for him to receive the award but he’s had a rough August which may seriously hurt his chances if he can’t clean it up in September. Since August 1 his ERA has climbed from 2.30 to 2.63 and although that doesn’t look like much of a change, it’s over five starts totaling 14 earned runs in 31 innings. A strong finish to the season could earn Felix the Cy but he’ll need to be his sharpest in the coming weeks to solidify himself as the winner. I snub King Felix because his ERA has been seriously slipping and he trails both Scherzer and Darvish in WHIP and batting average against.
Yu Darvish: The Japanese phenom has seemingly struck out every batter he’s faced at least once. His K’s are pushing the level of Randy Johnson and with a strong September could reach 275. His batting average against hasn’t been higher than .191 at any point in the season and he’s only give up five runs once…to the Astros of course. He’s nearly had two no-hitters and his ERA has gone higher than 3.00 only twice, on May 27 and July 6. He’s been very consistent during his time with the Rangers and has a shocking 8.9 K’s per start. Darvish is all strikeouts and power, a true second-coming of Randy Johnson and much like the Big Unit, he deserves to have some hardware on his shelves. Since he doesn’t have as many innings as Scherzer or Felix, he’s given up less hits and has less earned runs but more home runs and more walks. I snub Darvish because Felix has a better ERA in three more starts and Scherzer has a much lower WHIP.
The Call: The Mariners fan in me wants to pick Felix but he’s clearly the number three behind these two. He’s a top notch start but unless he has a stellar September, the Cy Young should come down to Scherzer and Darvish. With that, I’m picking Yu Darvish because of his insanely high strikeout rate to go with a very strong 2.68 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and miniscule .189 batting average against.
Fun Facts I Learned Writing This Piece: None of these three starters has pitched a complete game this season while Bartolo Colon and Justin Masterson each have three complete game shutouts. Also, Masterson has hit a league-leading 15 batters and Colon has hit zero.