The Different Kind Cy Young Winners- And Who Fits Each Mold This Year
Not all Cy Young candidates are created equally. Baseknock MLB’s Max Rosenfeld breaks down the different kinds of candidates.
Last week, I wrote about how every MVP fits a different mold, a narrative that is drawn up based on past performances and team success. Cy Young award winners are made similarly, with each recipient coming at it from a different angle. So, what are the different types of Cy Young winners and who fits those particular molds this season?
The Guy Who Got Off to a Hot Start
Chris Sale — 17-8, 2.90 ERA, 308 SO, 0.97 WHIP
In the first half the season, Sale was the game’s most impressive pitcher. Sale went on a stretch in which he struck out double digit batters for eight consecutive games, an absolutely dominant display. Sale thrives off a quirky delivery and a series of plus pitches. When he is on, he’s nearly unhittable.
But Sale is known to struggle in the second half of seasons. Before the All-Star break, Sale has a career ERA of 2.73. That mark rises to 3.22 after the break. This is likely due to the fact that Sale’s delivery requires so much effort and precision that it is easier for something to go wrong, be it fatigue or with mechanics, as the season progresses. Still, Sale has been fantastic for the Red Sox and is a main reason for their success. Should Sale win the award, he is certainly deserving.
Max Scherzer — 16-6, 2.51 ERA, 268 SO, .902 WHIP
Let’s not get confused- Mad Max has been awesome since Opening Day. He quickly reaffirmed his place as one of the game’s best as the season began and has carried that momentum into the postseason as the leader for the NL Cy Young.
Scherzer is one of baseball’s great joys. He is aggressive, he is emotional, and his pitching style reflects just that. The Nationals will go as far as Scherzer takes them.
The Second Half Stud
Corey Kluber — 18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 SO, 0.87 WHIP
Right now, Kluber is the most effective pitcher on the planet. He’ll lead an Indians team into the postseason that has World Series aspirations, and with Kluber on the mound they definitely have a chance to win it all.
Kluber won AL Pitcher of the Month for three of the five months he pitched this season. He has been fantastic over the course of the entire year and has been especially good since the All-Star break. He’s Major League Baseball’s ERA King for 2017 and is the favorite to win this season’s AL Cy Young.
Clayton Kershaw — 18-4, 2.31 ERA, 202 SO, 0.95 WHIP
Kershaw is the most dominant pitcher of his era. This is not for debate.
He is so incredible that 2017 was the ninth straight season in which the southpaw lowered his ERA, proof that there is no sign of decline. And although Kershaw demonstrated this trademark success while he was on the field, he missed some time due to an injury he sustained in July. This slowed down the momentum of Kershaw’s Cy Young campaign, which would have been very strong had he remained healthy.
The Sneaky Good Guy
Luis Severino — 14-6, 2.98 ERA, 230 SO, 1.04 WHIP
Severino likely had the best regular season of any American League starter not named Kluber or Sale. For some reason, however, Severino does not seem to be getting the praise that he deserves.
Much of the attention on the Yankees roster is given to their bullpen, but Severino is deserving of a lot of credit as well. His shaky Wild Card start is not indicative of the performance he turned in this season. As the postseason progresses, the Yankees will need him to return to regular season form in order to advance.
Gio Gonzalez — 15-9, 2.96 ERA, 188 SO, 1.18 WHIP
Gonzalez is one of the most underappreciated players in baseball. Most casual baseball fans recognize Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg as the workhorses in the Nationals rotation, yet Gonzalez is often just as good as both. Gonzalez has excelled under the radar this season and has put together a legitimate Cy Young case. In any other year, Gonzalez’s statistics might be good enough to win the award.
The Relief Pitcher
Andrew Miller — 4-3, 1.44 ERA, 95 SO, 62.2 IP
Miller is the best bullpen weapon in baseball- this is no secret. He has simply had more of the same success this season, securing games for Cleveland regularly. Miller has come a long way from his time as a lousy starter and has etched himself as a pioneer in the game. His willingness to enter a game at any inning despite being the best relief pitcher in baseball has begun a movement in the way we view bullpens today.
Kenley Jansen — 5-0, 1.32 ERA, 109 SO, 68.1 IP
Jansen is every bit as valuable to the Dodgers as anyone on the roster. He solidifies the back end of the bullpen for the best team in the National League, a job that requires considerable talent. Jansen has come a long way since his days as a catcher for the Netherlands World Baseball Classic team.